Q – Following last week’s enquiry about the podiums on the Pointless quiz show, can you please tell me the size of the Pointless trophy and what it is made of, or indeed do they exist at all as we never see one presented to the winners.
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Renee Huby, by email
A- The Pointless trophy is made of glass and is 12cm high, 5.5cm wide and 5.5cm deep (that’s about 5in x 2in x 2in).
I am told that if you move it in the light the centre Pointless part appears to count down.
These trophies are not only real and genuinely presented off camera but they have been known to be sold online by winners for more than £300 each.
The Pointless trophy is presented off camera
Q – In the late 1950s or early 60s was there ever a big glass box at Chester Town Hall outside the old market with a dead whale in it? I’m sure I saw it but I can’t verify it.
TD Topping, Chester
A – I can’t be certain but you are very probably correct. During those years the bodies of three whales called Hercules, Goliath and Jonah were taken on touring exhibitions around various venues in Britain and Europe.
Amazing as it may sound today this was seen as good publicity for the whaling industry.
The whales had been hollowed out and festooned inside with lanterns allowing people to walk through them, starting at the head and coming out the other end.
Jonah certainly visited York, Coventry, Worcester, Oxford, Bristol and Plymouth, transported on a huge lorry, so could have stopped off in Chester.
Audie Murphy played himself in the film To Hell And Back
Q – In the old film To Hell And Back I know that Audie Murphy, one of the most decorated American soldiers in the Second World War, played himself but my mate claims that he did not use his real name. Is it true that he was born with another name? Can you tell us what it was?
P Pope, Isle of Wight
A – His birth name really was Audie Leon Murphy and his father was Emmett Berry Murphy.
His name was real but he fibbed about his age in order to enlist in the US army after the attack on Pearl Harbor when he was only just 17.
Some say he was the most decorated US soldier of the Second World War but it depends on how you count honorary and non-combat medals.
After the war he made more than 40 films despite suffering from what would now be called post-traumatic stress disorder. For that reason he always slept with a loaded gun under his pillow.
Sixty Famous Trials was published by the Daily Express in 1938
Q – Can you tell me how old is the book Sixty Famous Trials by Daily Express crime reporter Percy Hoskins?
Jak Wilson, by email
A – The book was published by the Daily Express in 1938 and was edited by Richard Huson. Percy Hoskins, the Daily Express crime investigator, wrote the introduction.
By all accounts it’s a great book with trials including those of Mary Stuart, Captain Kidd and the Bounty mutineers.
It was 876 pages long and cost three shillings and sixpence. It still crops up occasionally in second-hand bookshops.
Around one in 16 of all drivers has a Blue Badge
Q – Can you tell me how many blue disabled badges are issued to drivers in Sheffield? Also how many are there in the country as a whole?
J Crabtree, Sheffield
A – In June 2016 Sheffield City Council reported that there were more than 24,000 Blue Badges in circulation within the city, of which 225 had been issued to organisations (the rest having gone to individuals).
They reminded people that improper use of a Blue Badge can lead to a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £1,000 plus any costs awarded by the court and said they were taking further steps to prosecute those using the badges fraudulently.
In the whole of England there were 2.38 million Blue Badges held in 2016, which was 0.7 per cent down on the previous year.
The number of badges held has declined every year since reforms of the Blue Badge application process in 2011/12.
Since there are more than 45 million active drivers in the UK, and England accounts for about 85 per cent of the UK population, by my calculations that means that around one in 16 of all drivers has a Blue Badge.
TV detective Columbo played by Peter Falk
Q – In last week’s Saturday briefing you wrote about the middle name of Quincy and the first name of Ironside, both of which were never revealed. While on the subject of TV detectives’ names, my question is about Columbo played by Peter Falk. Did he have a first name?
P Rhodes, Leeds
A – Again the first name of Columbo is never uttered in the series but there have been occasional shots of his ID card which clearly identify him as “Frank Columbo” and a signature seen on his badge gives the same name.
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