Victoria Coren Mitchell on Jeremy Vine, Peppa Pig and driving her “pimped ride”

The Only Connect quiz queen has a Radio 4 show called Women Talking About Cars

victoria coren mitchell

What is the view from your sofa?

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The TV, with bookshelves behind it as a sort of rebuke. The piles of DVDs in front of it are sometimes so high they obscure the bit of the TV that the remote control talks to. On days like that, you’ve got to hope you’re watching a good channel.

As a working mum, how much TV do you actually get to watch?

The phrase “working mum” makes me nervous. I’m at home a lot more now, and do a lot less professionally – it just takes a lot longer! And I still watch TV, though a new programme can feel exhausting. When I’m tired it’s nice just to see another episode of a box set. I think we’re moving towards a future where there’ll be one programme, but with thousands of episodes.

Last drama you enjoyed?

I loved Happy Valley, but then, who didn’t? I was almost angry with it for refusing me the opportunity to form an unusual opinion. Sometimes, the only reason to watch anything acclaimed is on the off-chance you really hate it.

Do you let your daughter, Barbara, watch much television?

She has only ever seen Peppa Pig and Bagpuss, which has hugely skewed her world view. At some point we’re going to have to explain to her how stupid animals really are. I’ll get offended letters for saying that, but let’s be reasonable: in Peppa’s world, pigs can be architects.

How do you start your day?

I read a newspaper – one that’s actually been printed on pieces of paper. So I always know absolutely everything that’s happened – up until the end of yesterday. I’ve always loved newspapers as objects and I’m determined to enjoy them for the last few years before they become extinct.

Do you have to stay on top of the news to present Only Connect?

Not really. It’s more useful to be on top of obscure general knowledge such as: which catering chains operate the largest number of motorway service stations? That was one of our producer’s all-time favourite questions.

On the whole, do you know the answers?

Only because I’ve looked at the questions in advance. I don’t suppose it would be workable otherwise. Though maybe, in a post-truth, post-expert world, we should have more democratic quizzes where the quizmaster and the contestants argue about what the right answer is and whoever can get the largest media conglomerate onside gets the point.

You have a Radio 4 show about women and their cars. What do you drive, and what do you listen to when you’re driving?

A blue one. It came grey, but I got a “wrap” put on it to make it blue, which I suppose means it qualifies as a “pimped ride”. I listen to nursery rhymes, interspersed with Radio 2. I’m a big fan of Jeremy Vine, but my daughter isn’t.

How do you switch off?

There’s a button on the remote but, as I say, sometimes the DVD boxes get in the way so you have to actually get up and go over to it.

Interview by Alexia Skinitis

Women Talking about Cars is on Thursdays at 6.30pm on Radio 4 

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Only Connect is on Fridays on BBC2