1. Name the frozen cities in all of the four pictures on the left

2. “The ice was here, the ice was there,/The ice was all around”: is the doomed ship in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” blown towards the North or the South Pole? 

3. Which bad habit connects Samuel Taylor Coleridge with counter-terrorist superhero Jack Bauer in the third season of the television series 24

4. This snowy scene (left) was donated to the National Gallery in London in a bequest this year by a member of the Sainsbury family – name the artist.

5. Which novelist incurred the wrath of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council this year when he confessed to taking several pebbles from an English west country beach and was threatened with a £2,000 fine? 

6. Which American photographer was inadvertently caught up in a furore this summer when the BBC aired a doctored trailer for a documentary that falsely portrayed Queen Elizabeth II storming out of a photo shoot?

7. The photographer did, however, receive a sharp rebuke from the Queen after daring to suggest the monarch might remove a vital item of royal apparel in order to look “less dressy”. What was it? 

8. In June, the American Film Institute revealed its list of the 100 greatest American films of all time, chosen by 1,500 movie industry insiders. Which film came top? 

9. Which director featured most, with five films in the list? (He’s still working, so there may be more to come.)

10. Each of the acts pictured right cancelled a concert this year. Match them to the reason given:

a) Fractured finger

b) Acute anxiety

c) Intense emotional strain

d) Not allowed UK visa

11. Name the characters in the stills below from two films released this year and the link they share.

12. The FT’s critics bade farewell to some great names this year. To whom was Clement Crisp referring when he wrote of a production of Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth at the Royal Opera House in London: “It is the best of farewells, because the truest to XXXX’s gifts, and we shall remember XXXX like this: beautiful, expressive, a generous artist”?

13. Who was Nigel Andrews commemorating when he wrote that: “Critics and filmgoers have overstated the tormented aspects of XXXX’s work while undervaluing its elements of joy or comedy …XXXX created what may prove the most lasting body of dramatic work to emerge from the 20th century”?

14. According to Andrew Clark, “XXXX’s greatness depended not so much on his popularity as on the power of a well-produced voice to touch the heart. People who would never have gone to a classical performance were thrilled by his sound, an incisive timbre of unmistakeable personality that remained bright, lyrical and poised all the way up to a high D.” Can you name him?

15. Forbes magazine published a survey in August revealing Hollywood’s best value-for-money actors, with the leading star earning $29 for each dollar of his or her salary. Rank the stars pictured on the right according to their place in the list, from best to worst value.

16. Who became the world’s most expensive living artist at auction last month when the art dealer Larry Gagosian brought an enormous shiny hanging heart in New York for $23.6m?

17. Which artist claimed to have privately sold a dazzlingly morbid artwork for £50m to an investment group, which, if true, would be the most for a work by a living artist?

18. Which axe-hero is Eric Clapton describing in his autobiography? “What I found refreshing about him was his intensely self-critical attitude towards his music. He had this enormous gift and a fantastic technique, like that of someone who spent all day playing and practising, yet he didn’t seem that aware of it. There was something of the playboy in him. He loved to spend all night hanging out, getting drunk or stoned, and when he did pick up the guitar, it was very throwaway to him, as if he didn’t take himself too seriously.”

19. Name the dancer (below), who published his autobiography this year, and the pose he’s holding.

© Financial Times

20. Following Doris Lessing’s victory this year, how many living Nobel laureates for literature are British citizens? 

21. Thanks to Samuel Beckett, one nation boasts 13 writers who have been awarded Nobels for literature since the prize began in 1901, one more than the US. Which country is it? 

22. In 1935 Henri Matisse was commissioned to illustrate a novel by a writer who never won the Nobel prize. Matisse accepted the commission but didn’t read the novel. Instead, he reread Homer’s Odyssey and used that as inspiration. What was the novel? 

23. Match the mooted City of London buildings below to their nicknames

a) “Darth Vader’s Helmet”

b) “Cheese Grater”

c) “Walkie Talkie”

d) “Helter Skelter”

24. The South American television programme pictured below has been remade in many other countries. Can you name the US version?

25. The 26-year-old conducting Wunderkind Gustavo Dudamel stunned the Proms this year when he and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra discarded their sober black suits to reveal brightly coloured jackets in their national colours. Name the nation. 

26. For his debut conducting the New York Philharmonic last month, Dudamel used a baton from the Phil’s archive that once belonged to whom? 

27. “But now he was a man again!” Which macho author was posthumously given an award for the year’s worst sex scene in fiction for a scene in his final novel, an imaginary account of Adolf Hitler’s childhood?

28, “I’m sure the Beatles were copying what we were doing. Just as we were copying what we were hearing down the corridor,” remembered the manager of a band that recorded their debut album in Abbey Road Studios at the same time as the Beatles were making Sgt Pepper, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. Name the band. 

29. Which pop prince was Prince Charming in an animated film about a lumbering ogre and his donkey sidekick? 

30. Which British knight of the realm impersonated a brave polar bear on cinema screens this year? 

31. “I know you all, and will awhile uphold/The unyok’d humour of your idleness.” Which character has the most lines in all of Shakespeare’s plays? 

32. What shut down Broadway in November?

33. What led to the Democrats cancelling a television debate between presidential candidates and saw Sean Penn, Holly Hunter and Jay Leno appear in a series of dialogue-free short films? 

34. One day, Sophie Calle received an e-mail from a man with whom she was romantically involved “telling me it was over. I didn’t know how to answer. It was as if it wasn’t meant for me. It ended with the words: ‘Take care of yourself.’ I took this recommendation literally.” What did the artist do?

35. In his memoir, which caused outrage in Germany for its revelation of his membership of the Hitler Youth and service in the Waffen-SS, Günter Grass likens memory to a vegetable “that wishes to be peeled so we can read what is laid bare letter by letter”. Which vegetable is he referring to?

36. A poet’s letters were published posthumously this year. “This Laureateship has been very peculiar,” one letter declared. “I really thought I’d walked into a pit trap. I saw at once that refusing invoked as many demons as accepting.” Name the poet.

37. The 19th-century Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall was notorious for his doggerel. In “The Little Match Girl”, he writes: “In that mighty city of London, wherein is plenty of gold/But alas! Their charity towards street waifs is rather …” Supply the missing adjective that ends the couplet. 

a) bold

b) cold

c) annulled

d) unfulfilled 

38. Which film musical finds a tearful Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”?

39. Name the seasonal tune below.

Photos: image.net; Paramount; Reuters; AFP; AP; Getty; Bridgeman Art Library

Answers – how did you fare with our Christmas cultural challenge?

1. a) St Petersburg: “View of the Monument to Peter the Great in Senate Square” (1870) by Vasilij Ivanovich Surikov

b) Moscow: “Loubyanska Square” (1830) by Paul Marie Roussel

c) New York: “Skating in Central Park” (1865) by Johann Mengels Culverhouse

d) London: “The Fair on the Thames” (1814) by Luke Clennell

2. The South Pole

3. Opiate addiction (season three of 24 for Jack Bauer, a lifetime for Coleridge)

4. Monet, “Snow Scene at Argenteuil” (1875), donated by Simon Sainsbury in October

5. Ian McEwan

6. Annie Leibovitz from the documentary Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work (BBC1)

7. The crown

8. Citizen Kane

9. Steven Spielberg

10. a) Led Zeppelin, fractured finger; b) White Stripes, acute anxiety; c) Amy Winehouse, intense emotional strain; d) Snoop Dogg, UK visa trouble

11. Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: the Golden Age, Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, both played by Cate Blanchett

12. Darcey Bussell

13. Ingmar Bergman

14. Luciano Pavarotti

15. Best to worst value: Matt Damon, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise

16. Jeff Koons, “Hanging Heart”

17. Damien Hirst claimed to have sold “For the Love of God” in August

18. Jimi Hendrix

19. Carlos Acosta, the Arabesque

20. Three – Lessing, Harold Pinter in 2005 and VS Naipaul in 2001

21. France. Samuel Beckett became a French citizen

22. Joyce’s Ulysses

23. a) Darth Vader’s Helmet is: iv) Walbrook Square

b) Cheese Grater is: iii) The Leadenhall Building

c) Walkie Talkie is: ii) 20 Fenchurch Street

d) Helter Skelter is: i) The Bishopsgate Tower

24. Ugly Betty. Ten other countries have remade the Colombian original

25. Venezuela

26. Leonard Bernstein

27. Norman Mailer’s The Castle in the Forest (2007) won the Bad Sex in Fiction award

28. Pink Floyd. The quotation comes from Saucerful of Secrets by band manager Peter Jenner

29. Justin Timberlake, Shrek the Third

30. Sir Ian McKellen voices Iorek Byrnison in The Golden Compass (2007)

31. Henry V (including his roles in Henry IV parts I and II)

32. Stagehands’ strike

33. Writers’ strike

34. Made an artwork, “Take Care of Yourself”, involving 102 women commenting on the letter. It was exhibited at the French pavilion in this year’s Venice Biennale

35. The onion. Grass’s memoir Peeling the Onion was published in English this year

36. Ted Hughes

37. b) Cold

38. Meet Me in St Louis (1944)

39. “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from the Nutcracker Suite

Get alerts on Life & Arts when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Comments have not been enabled for this article.

Follow the topics in this article