Don Manley reveals the tricks that compilers use to bamboozle and entertain cryptic crossword solvers, while fans including Prunella Scales explain why they enjoy them.
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# My heart is taking lessons
# And I notice too
# It began to la-la-la-la-ta-ta-ta
# When I looked at you. #
I've seen people buy the newspaper, fill in the crossword and then chuck it away without even reading it.
It's one of the most important parts of the paper.
A slightly difficult cryptic crossword every day just keeps you going.
What do other people say about their addiction to crosswords?
I got the bug when I was at school and I just lived for Sundays.
I think it's the pleasure of recognition.
Wow, I should have got that.
It does test the mind and a really good clue is a work of art.
Presbyterians is an anagram of Britney Spears.
Now that is cause for rejoicing.
The important thing is to get rid of the idea that it somehow needs
a special type of brain, because that's nonsense.
No. Useless. Can't do a single one. Can't do a single one.
Inside every single cryptic clue is a simple clue trying to get out.
Oh, yes, look, I've done it.
Hotelier, is that right?
I sit in this study, quite a lot of the hours of the week
making up crosswords for a lot of national newspapers...
five different dailies and Sundays and a few others besides.
It's Don Manley.
Don Manley's code names all have Don in it...
He compiles as Duck as in Donald Duck, Pasquale, Giovanni...
There's the puzzle that we set for this programme.
I was asked to put in a lot of words for different types of clue,
and to put in some words for specific people appearing in this programme.
I think you've got to understand how a clue is made up in a cryptic crossword.
I mean, for a start, you will always have a definition in a clue.
You either make the definition a little bit more veiled,
so you would have instead of "River in Paris" you might have "Parisian flower,"
Parisian flow-er, something that flows for Seine, you see,
so there's a little bit of sort of cryptic definition.
The rest of the clue is something to do with messing around with the letters.
Some people call this word-play, and at the same time when you read the clue as a whole
it may make a very nice sentence but the sentence has nothing whatever
to do with the actual working out of the clue.
# You can get it if you really want
# You can get it if you really want
# You can get it if you really want
# But you must try, try and try
# Try and try
# You'll succeed at last. #
I think crosswords are for everybody at any time.
Many people here don't appreciate
the joys of a cryptic crossword.
They think that they're not clever enough,
but that is completely wrong thinking.
It's not about cleverness...
it's about the English language, it's about love of words,
it's about manipulating words and it's about enjoying double meanings...
puns and so on. If you can do those, you can do a crossword.
# You'll succeed at last. #
You would probably have a go at this easy one here, wouldn't you,
-in the Evening Standard.
-I'd have a go at the easy one, yeah.
Definitions, but if you transfer a little bit to the left hand side
you'll see some cryptic clues where the answers are to some extent easy.
You've got two ways of getting to one, so have a look at that 19 for example,
"A snack at Chelsea perhaps".
-exactly, which is also a snack.
-So that's a cake.
So you've got two ways of getting at it whereas with these you've only got one way.
-Any other one that comes to mind?
-"They've been very successful..."
"They've been very successful with spice",
-so that's probably about pop music.
-And how many letters?
-Girls is five letters, and you've got another one.
In double definition we bolt together two separate definitions.
"Puzzles accounting for angry things said", well, "angry things said"
are cross words.
This is really an old joke, isn't it?
Cross words, angry things said, and puzzles are crosswords
so one definition accounts for another definition
so this is what we call a "double definition" clue.
The first thing that we call a crossword
was written by a Liverpudlian who emigrated to America, Arthur Wynne,
and he produced very straight definition puzzles.
And they came over here and within three or four years they'd started
being cryptic, because people were bored with the simple one.
There used to be just a simple one word meaning another word,
like state and condition, but we had a history of acrostics and riddles
and conundrums so we brought that to the concept of the square grid
with the words in and the clues so the two came together
and we created the cryptic crossword.
A man who is very much in the news at present is Dr Fisher, chosen as the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
He likes nothing better than to relax with a crossword.
The harder they are, the more he enjoys them.
He never has to use any reference books... He calls that cheating.
We started introducing our own culture into them...
language about cricket and you have to sort of learn different abbreviations,
army abbreviations and so on,
so although the crossword originated in America,
we took hold of it and put it into something a little bit different.
# At breakfast each day in our house Battles rage
# For I pick up The Times And turn to the back page
# Ignoring the eggs that She scrambled for me
# Hunt for words of six letters Which end Q blank V. #
One of the reasons the British took in such a great way to crosswords
was because of our English language.
There is only one other language, which is French,
that lends itself to double entendres, which is what we get from the French,
so you can have words that sound the same that are spelt differently and mean different things.
# "Tea, darling?" she asks And I say "doesn't fit"
# No wonder the poor woman's Fed up with it
# Until Friday when our Marriage blossomed anew
# The reason is simple I haven't a clue... #
English seems to be peculiarly susceptible to word fracture.
You can take words apart,
words that can be seen as from two words side by side
or one word placed inside another one like a box,
or another word with a bit chopped off either end or somewhere in the middle.
# I never attended When buttering toast
# Ignored her requests When she asked for the post
# "How many letters today?" She would say
# I'd say "four hyphen five And the second one's A". #
If you take a word like "carpenter",
you can have carer outside pent,
you can have pen in carter.
You can play with the word and a lot of English words are capable of doing that.
# Now there's never a Cross word between us
# And we smile at each other Once more
# No more does she frown She's no longer one down
# She's the one across The table I adore. #
This sort of clue, we stick something inside something.
"Cunning, getting round the market quickly".
"Cunning" is sly...
"getting round the market", a market is a mart;
and if you put "sly" around "mart", you get smartly
and if you do something smartly, you do it quickly.
"Innovator - individual needing external support".
12 across, "individual" is one, in the middle of the clue.
The "external support" is a pier...
"Pier end" or something like that.
Oh, pioneer, of course.
A newspaper is a ravenous organism
that feeds on every single one of the 24 hours of the day.
One of my grandfather's friends was Barrington-Ward, the Editor of The Times.
Now The Times was losing circulation, hand over fist,
to The Telegraph because The Telegraph had
the new-fangled American fashion, the crossword,
so The Times had to get one pretty sharpish
and I know so many people who were really disapproving that The Times
had really stooped lower than they ever thought possible
and Barrington-Ward asked my grandfather, Robert Bell,
if he knew anyone who could do it, and, "Yes, my son can," he said,
and then he went down and talked to my dad and persuaded him to do it.
So then my father came to me. We were sitting in the country,
trying to farm with a pair of horses,
and he said, "Look, my boy, you're going to make up crossword puzzles for The Times."
"But Father," I said, "I haven't even solved a crossword puzzle".
"Well," he said, "you've got just ten days to learn!"
He knew absolutely nothing about it. He'd hardly seen one,
but he had a lively mind and a vast amount of knowledge and so he wrote the first one in 1930
and something like 3,000 of his crossword puzzles later -
he wrote the 10,000th shortly before his death.
What's this, "holiday"?
"Holiday," oh, Lord, if we haven't had that word a hundred times.
I think he did most of his best work in the morning.
A glass of sherry or something would be brought into him at about half past 12.
I do remember a lot of moaning and groaning from his study.
He used to take a whole day to do one of these things
and when he stopped farming, it was easier but he did thousands and thousands and thousands.
His study was something into which we children would never venture, uninvited.
He's not like one of these hands-on, modern, touchy-feely dads at all,
but over the years, all the spines fell off the dictionaries because he used them so extensively.
I think it helped him that he'd never been to a university.
That is, he had a totally free, unchannelled mind with a lot of stuff in it
and a lot of stuff is what he put in his puzzles.
We had half the cabinet ministers writing to The Times
and who was it? Josiah Stamp, he was very proud of his record
of doing the crossword puzzle in 50 minutes
whereupon Sir Austen Chamberlain wrote and said
he could knock nine minutes off that himself
and then he added that for real expertise,
The Provost of Eton, M R James, he'd heard that he timed his breakfast egg
by the time it took him to do the Times crossword puzzle
and he did not like a hard boiled egg!
What a lovely man, what a lovely man!
I'd forgotten all those stories, you know.
He got paid five guineas each for these crosswords,
and it helped make ends meet and I sometimes wonder
if he could have been paid a fraction of the gross national product
wasted by people who were doing these crossword puzzles
when they should have been working, we'd be extremely wealthy now!
It made you wonder what they did in their cabinet meetings, to tell you the truth.
"Advice telling someone not to waste bread and be common-sensical".
Use your loaf.
We're all trying to do proper crosswords here.
Proper crosswords? What do you mean by that, proper crosswords?
I'm trying to do the Mephistopheles in The Financial Times,
a crossword which you wouldn't know where to start.
As it happens, I can do any crossword put in front of me,
There's The Times. Now The Times is pretty smart.
It's fairly uniform in standard, it's quite difficult.
You might have a job starting off with this one.
Start with The Independent On Sunday, or The Daily Telegraph.
I recommend The Guardian as well, of course, because I set for The Guardian as Pasquale.
It just happens that I prefer the Sun Junior Coffee Time easy clues, that's all!
It's just a matter of taste.
If you like rude crosswords, you know, you can go out and buy Private Eye
and you've got to learn a little bit of different vocabulary if you buy the Private Eye.
You know that Brenda is the Queen, which is ER.
Some of the clues are a bit near the bone.
The Sun... People only buy that for one thing...
or rather a couple of things.
-There you are. See what I mean!
Most of the dailies tend to be on the polite side
with perhaps some of them edging a little bit more into rudeness and impropriety than others.
"Often found in the bottom of a bird cage".
Something, something, I-T.
For me, doing crosswords is the most serene and satisfying
and civilised way I have yet discovered of wasting my time in life.
19 down, "Put off when tackling Times? He wouldn't be!"
Well, my first thoughts would be that "tackling" probably means
going round the outside of, all right?
And "Times" very often is going to be in crosswords,
a very common abbreviation would be "X".
So I would say that you've got a six-letter word
and in the middle somewhere is an "X".
Oh, I see, yeah. And "deter" is put off, isn't it,
so I rather think that this for me is not a terribly difficult one.
It is the word "deter" around an "X"
and I think that adds up to my name, doesn't it? Dexter, yes.
When I started writing fiction,
I knew that Morse was going to be besotted with crosswords.
I think unfortunately he was very fond of doing the crossword when he got in first thing in the morning,
before he started wondering how many corpses
he was going to try to investigate.
-You all right, sir?
He would say, "No, no, no, no.
"Leave me alone for a couple of minutes, and don't interrupt me again.
"I'm timing myself!"
12 minutes. Not bad, not the record, but not bad.
I think the whole idea of spotting clues and understanding clues
which other people can't is at the heart, isn't it, of the whodunit crossword.
I set crosswords.
Do you! Which paper?
Different papers, but always the same name.
Daedalus. He built the Great Maze of Greek legend, you know.
You're Daedalus! I've been wrestling with you for years!
You know when someone like Morse or Poirot gets everybody in the library at the end of a case
and he, the author, has been dangling half a dozen suspects in front of everybody
in such a way that you're invariably going to guess the wrong person
and then you say, "Aaagh, but you didn't follow this particular clue".
I wanted to see who you were, if you were up to the job.
Now that I know you do my crosswords, of course...
Morse was doing The Times crossword, and he said, "Oh, that's a nice clue. Listen to this, Lewis."
And he said, "The clue is...
" 'Take in bachelor? This may do.' "
Well, in this abbreviation business in crosswords,
the letter "R" is very often used for recipe, recipe...
Take two ounces of sugar, so "R" equals "take", all right?
And a "bachelor", of course, is Bachelor of Arts, BA,
so you stick "R" in the middle of B-A
and you get an item of women's underclothing, do you not?
I always try to make five down just a little tricky.
And Morse tried very hard to interest Sergeant Lewis in this clue,
but I'm afraid with little success.
Now this is interesting.
If you've ever played charades at Christmas parties,
you know you introduce a word in act one which is "black", don't you,
and then in act two you introduce "smith",
and in the final denouement you introduce the word "blacksmith",
so you have "black", plus "smith" equals "blacksmith", right,
and charade clues work like that.
"Sharp weapon wounded girl".
A sharp weapon wounded a girl.
Well, it "cut a lass," so, wounded girl, cutlass, sharp weapon, cutlass.
18 down, "Commotion created by enthusiast taking someone in taxi".
An "enthusiast" is a fan.
Someone in a taxi is hopefully a fare, so the answer is "fanfare".
Especially for me, wasn't that?
I've been driving a taxi in the Borough of Trafford on the south side of Manchester now since 1994.
Previously I was in IT for 25 years.
I've managed to finish on one occasion third in the finals in the Times Crossword competition.
I think maybe I was a little lucky on the day.
It was a bit like an intellectual bingo session, actually.
"Eyes down for seven across, five letters beginning with X," that sort of thing.
To the uninitiated, a strange ritual, this puzzling of the champions,
to the crossword buffs, the first chance of glory.
If you simply look at the people who do The Times Crossword,
I would say I'm regularly in the first ten of those people, which is, for me, a good place to be.
Generally speaking, because I do a lot of crosswords in my working environment in the cab,
it tends to be a ten-minute chunk where I fill half a puzzle in
and then I'm picking at the rest in between jobs as the day goes on.
I have a couple of colleagues who have seen me doing the crosswords and said,
"I'd never be good enough to do that," and I said, "Well, you can if you start gently".
Some of the tabloid papers in the morning will publish a crossword
where you've got quick clues and cryptic clues leading to the same answer,
and I say to the lads that do these, "Do the quick clues, fill it in,
"then come back and look at the cryptic clues with your answers and see if you can translate it,"
and I've got one of the lads already he's trying to do it as a cryptic, and only reverts to the quick clues
when he gets stuck, and he says it's given him a lot of pleasure and I feel very good about that.
But in the end, the puzzler who did it quicker and better emerged as a foreign office official,
Roy Dean from Bromley in Kent.
Isn't it very tiring, you know, you've been working hard today, you've had four crosswords to do?
Yesterday was even worse because yesterday we had eight and one of those was a real stinker.
I always try to start in the top left-hand corner, which is logical.
I read an article some years ago by a guy called Dr John Sykes,
the legendary guy who was so good in The Times Crossword Championships
that he eventually only entered in alternate years
to give other people a chance of winning it
and his theory was that when a compiler fills a grid in,
most of the clever words they thought of are across clues,
and the down clues tend to be fillers which are easier,
and I thought, "I don't know if I believe this,"
until I tried it and found that nine times out of ten it worked.
Very occasionally I'll be stuck with a couple of clues
and one of my colleagues will say, "Let me have a quick look,"
and they'll take it on the basis that while I'm sat trying to break the clue down,
they sometimes can see a word that will fit in the space in among the letters
and say, "Could it be 'vehicle'?"
and I'll look at it and say, "Yes, it is, because..."
and it doesn't happen very often, but they go away with quite a sense of satisfaction because they feel
that, like I've tried to beat the compiler, they've beaten me.
# Anything you can do I can do better
# I can do anything better than you
-# No you can't
-Yes I can
-# No you can't
-Yes I can
-# No you can't
-Yes I can, yes I can... #
The whole business of solving crosswords,
setting and solving crosswords, is it's a battle of minds.
It is one-to-one combat.
A tussle of wits... between the setter and the solver.
Apart from anything else, if you manage to complete a fiendish crossword
you'll feel quite pleased with yourself.
Frankly, if ever I finish a crossword, that's an amazing achievement.
You should win, but not without a bit of a struggle.
Suddenly, five or six clues fall into place.
-Yes, it is.
Gosh, I enjoyed that!
One of the features of crosswords is what we call "bits and pieces",
and among these are the abbreviations...
Roman numerals, "V" equals 5, "L" equals 50.
Little foreign words like "the French" for "le", or "la", or "les".
All sorts of little bits and pieces, things that aren't quite English words.
Here's a clue that uses two abbreviations...
"Story that is beginning with short line".
Now "that is" is "i.e.", id est,
we're all familiar with that.
"Short line" is telling us that this is an abbreviation for a line.
If you look at learned work, we'll say "p.64, l.3", meaning line 3.
Put the "L" at the front because it begins with a short line...
L-I-E gives you "lie"...
and a lie is a story in the sense that stories are false, so it is a lie.
"Expert starts to give us real understanding".
Well, it says "starts to" and it probably means
it's the initial letters of the words that follow, and in this case it is...
"expert" is "guru", which is the initial letters of "gives us real understanding".
Oh, I've got it. G-U-R-U.
I am Roger Squires.
I'm known in most papers as Rufus.
I'm not known for being difficult, in fact all the papers I seem to go for
use me on Monday to get an easy start to the week.
I'm used on Mondays in the Glasgow Herald, The Telegraph,
The Guardian and The FT, most weeks
and whenever I put a difficult word in, I get complaints!
I was doing at one stage 40 a week and I've cut it down, actually.
I've been in the Guinness Book of Records since 1978.
Today's Monday crossword contains that record-breaking two millionth clue.
The man who set it, 75-year-old Roger Squires, Crossword Editor of the Birmingham Post for 22 years,
he's had his puzzles in 565 different publications and the answer to that two millionth clue,
the girls on the knees,
Pat and Ella make patella - a knee cap.
I want to try and bring fun. As an ex-magician,
I like to think it's the same thing...
misleading to cause entertainment,
but if I can have a bit of fun at the same time, I like to.
The one I seem to be most known for is "a bar of soap"
for the Rovers Return. Once you've realised "soap"
is a soap opera, and the "bar" is a pub...
a "bar of soap" is just a pub in a soap opera.
It could have been in EastEnders, actually, The Victoria just as well.
In fact, I might try that next week!
I set crosswords for The Observer under the pseudonym Azed.
I inherited the job from a setter who had the pseudonym of Ximines,
and he in turn inherited it from a setter who had the pseudonym of Torquemada.
Both Ximines and Torquemada were grand inquisitors in the Spanish Inquisition.
When I got the job
back in 1971,
I looked around for something to continue the tradition
and I couldn't find another inquisitor
with a suitably impressive name
but I did find one called Don Diego De Deza...
D-E-Z-A, so I just reversed him,
which also had a nice alphabetical ring to it,
and that's how Azed came about.
There are broadly speaking two main types of crossword.
There are those with which most people are probably most familiar...
my own use black bars instead of black squares to indicate where words end.
It doesn't take too long making the pattern.
Filling it with words takes somewhat longer, as you might imagine,
but not until I've done that and the grid is complete do I start
on the business of compiling the clues,
and I always write the clues in the order in which they appear in the puzzle.
I don't deliberately, I don't take what looked to me
the most interesting words and clue those first,
and get left with a sump of rather sort of drab four-letter words at the end
because if you approach a clue saying this is a drab word, you'll probably end up with a drab clue.
Any one of my puzzles may take me four or five hours,
which might sound like a long time, but spread over a week, it's not too excessive.
There's another type of clue called the "homophone",
and this relies on the fact
that words which are spelt differently sound the same,
so F-A-R-E and F-A-I-R sound the same, "fare" and "fair",
and there's an example in this puzzle,
"Regret sneer being heard? Nonsense!"
Now, "being heard" or "we hear"
or "by the sound of it"
or "in the auditorium" -
all these things can tell the solver I want to say the answer
and it will sound like something else.
This is what I call the "sounds like" clue -
there's probably a more technical word for it.
Regret - rue,
sneer - barb...
And what does rhubarb mean?
Apart from noises of actors and so on, it means "nonsense"... rhubarb!
Line given audibly, three letters.
With a "C"...would be "cue",
although I'm not sure whether that's quite correct, that clue.
It's a theatrical clue.
For some bizarre reason, a lot of actors do crosswords.
It seems to be a particularly 'actory' thing to do.
You know, in our job, there is a lot of hanging around.
You can just let your mind half-drift onto the crossword.
All the dressing rooms at the National look in on each other, which is lovely.
This particular dressing room has a history behind it
because I think this is where the sort of bosses used to...
the boss actors used to be, ever since the National started.
I don't know whether Olivier was here, I hope he was.
To go to a theatre and shut myself up in a dressing room
and come out as somebody else and live a mimicked life
does give me pleasure, and I suppose always has done.
Gielgud, apparently, was a crossworder,
but I've heard this story that he used to just fill in the grid
with any words he could make fit.
I'm a terrible escapist in life.
I can't believe he always did that. Perhaps in desperation he would.
There's this story of him putting down a completed crossword and
then saying, "That's absolute nonsense..."
But I could be doing the man down.
"The Loire is fantastic - I can offer you accommodation".
Oh, yes, of course, I've done it.
It's an anagram of The Loire and it's hotelier, is that right?
Oh, it's a lovely part of the world, isn't it,
all those beautiful trees and fields and variety of birds.
I don't know what the anagrammatic misprints came from or what that was about.
John and Connie, I don't think either of them were especially
crossword freaks, you know.
There was never anytime, anywhere on Fawlty Towers to do crosswords, no way, no way.
Timothy, my husband, and I more or less met through crosswords, really.
We were in television together, we both had quite small parts
and we had what I can only describe as sort of polo mints
and crosswords flirtation, if you know what I mean.
He's a crossword freak, too.
I get the Guardian and The Telegraph delivered
because I like the range of opinion,
but I move fairly quickly to The Guardian crossword
with my cup of coffee and my bowl of muesli
and I can sit there for a good hour and a half,
cos I'm quite an early riser.
I'm addicted to Araucaria - the setter in The Guardian.
At last we have an opportunity to put faces to the names that
have graced the pages of many broad sheets and periodicals.
John Graham, Araucaria of the Guardian,
and of the Financial Times,
the "Doyen" of compilers and the inspiration
to everyone who ever wanted to be or is a compiler.
I wrote him a fan letter once saying, "you drive me madder than
"any other person in the world I don't know and I love you".
And he wrote back this very sweet letter saying he loved me too
because he had seen me on the box, you see.
I met Araucaria once,
which was a thrill.
I hope he'll forgive me for saying this but he was exactly what I hoped he would be.
He had a bit of a wry smile the whole time.
-British Library, Hogg.
Nope. Anyone want to buzz from the Crossword Compilers?
Why Araucaria is the best? I think it's his wit, really.
He makes me laugh more than anyone else.
He's cheeky, and occasionally,
I think, he probably bends the rules a little bit.
I'm quoted at the beginning of his book.
"My constant bedtime companion, Prunella Scales."
An anagram is a jumble of letters.
"'Fatty is a dope' - that's cruel!"
The clue will make you think of some Billy-Bunter-type figure
being ragged and bullied by
his thin colleagues in class and you'll start,
you'll build up a little picture, almost a little cartoon picture.
The cartoon picture is actually quite irrelevant to the clue.
It's there to amuse you, to divert you,
but when you analyse the clue, you find "fatty" for the definition.
Something is cruel, something is being mangled in some way,
and it happens to be "is a dope", and an anagram of "is a dope"
is adipose, which means "fatty" - adipose tissue, fatty tissue.
Ten across, "Those who have to put papers to bed can become so tired".
Well, those who put papers to bed must be editors,
because that's what they do and that is an anagram of "so tired",
so that's "editors".
I was working at The Telegraph and the editor
called me and said, "Well, we like you,
"we like the fact that you work,
"which is not what everybody does,
"and just keep coming in and we'll keep paying you, we'll
"find something for you".
Well, that's an offer you can't refuse, isn't it? You know,
do nothing and we'll pay you...
So I kept coming in and then about a month later he called me and
he said, "Do you do crosswords?"
and I said "Yes",
and he said, "Would you like to be Crossword Editor?"
and I said, "Yes", and he said, "Well, that's that, then".
You are responsible for the crossword. You have a team of compilers who compile it.
They send it into you and you endeavour to turn it round
so it appears in the paper with the right pattern, the right clues and the right solution.
Now that sounds incredibly easy.
The Crossword Editor checks everything and says,
"No, you can't have that,
"because we don't allow this or that", you know,
or, "It's obscene" or, "It's too obscure", blah, blah, blah.
You know what the crossword ethos is of that paper,
and you've got to make sure that your compilers stick with that,
and sometimes they want to do the pyrotechnics and the clever stuff
and you know what's gonna happen is the solvers are gonna phone in
and say, "This is far too clever, this chap thinks he's too clever,
"too much of himself, so sharp he'll cut himself",
that's a phrase that is often used,
so you just have to say whoa, no, no, no, just gently here.
They are supposed to solve these things.
"She may hope to succeed".
Mainly it's male crossword editors, but on The Telegraph,
it's always been a female Crossword Editor.
Heiress, heiress. I never know how to pronounce that.
When I got this job, I was absolutely delighted
and my sister looked at me askance and said, "What!"
She said, "That's the squarest job I've ever heard of",
she said, "and all you'll be doing all day is looking at squares!"
But now I'm very fond of squares.
Basically I have evil geniuses dotted around the world
who send me their puzzles.
I've got one in Oregon, one in France,
one in the West Country, one in Oxford, so I rarely see my setters.
They send me a text file, basically,
with the number of the grid and then the clues, and with this
clever bit of software, I build it into what you see in the paper.
Now isn't that magic!
And then I will take it into the kitchen with my cup of tea
and have a go at it as if it had just arrived on my doorstep.
Yes, of course I've got the answers,
if I need them, and sometimes I do need them, you know.
We don't all get every clue,
but I try and do it first without them, so that's fair, I think.
So you solve the crossword and make sure it
gets into the paper the right way and you answer the letters.
And there's a lot of letters.
'Dear Editor, your clues are deteriorating...'
'Recently it has not given either of us any pleasure...'
-'And later I am still gazing at...'
'The clue has no bearing on the answer!'
There was one reader who I do really remember because
she complained about a clue.
The clue was wrong and she was incandescent on the phone,
and I said, "I'm very sorry, I do apologise, it was a mistake".
She said, "That's not good enough!" and you think, well,
what can I do? You can't undo the past, so I said,
"Madam, I will get back to you."
So I rang off and I thought what on earth am I going to do?
I phoned her back and I said, "I have fired the compiler"
and there was this deadly hush at the end of the phone,
because she suddenly realised she had over-reacted.
I hadn't actually fired the compiler but I thought this was a way...
and she said, "Oh. Well...well, maybe I was a little hasty".
I said "Well, we do take notice of our readers.
"Thank you very much, madam."
and I put down the phone and I gave her the fright of her life!
'Twenty two across, answer "amateur". Please explain...'
'I was politely told to buy myself a new Oxford dictionary...'
If there has been a mistake, there will be lots of shouting and, "What are you? Dyslexic?"
So I write back to everybody and if I've got something
wrong, you can do nothing but put your hands up and say I'm sorry.
But there was one... My favourite was something that actually wasn't my fault.
The advert was printed on top of the grid, so people couldn't see
the grid and they couldn't fill it in properly
and I just had a letter in from someone,
and it said on the top, "You made an arse of this!"
Which is my favourite!
People do take it very, very seriously and really over-seriously.
I have a friend who is a pilot, and I used to get very agitated
about this because people were quite abusive sometimes,
and he'd say, "Don't worry, Val".
He said, "Nobody dies, nobody dies.
"I make a mistake, people die.
"You make a mistake, it's a crossword puzzle!".
Let's talk about reversals.
This is a question of giving you the answer the wrong way round
and telling you that we're giving it you the wrong way round.
So, we all know that "pets"
is "step" backwards...
..and "reed" - R-E-E-D, is "deer" backwards,
and that is something that I've used in one of my clues here...
"Animal in grass rolling over".
"Animal in grass rolling over".
Actually, what's 'rolling over' isn't the animal,
it's the grass that's 'rolling over' and the grass happens to be reed...
R-E-E-D and if we roll that over, turn it around,
in a cross clue, we've got deer, D-E-E-R.
Paul, how often do you do the crossword?
Friday I treat myself to some mind games.
-And is it always The Telegraph?
-That's a very good choice.
It's just about my level.
That's a good choice on Friday, because that's composed by the same man every Friday.
-I'd rather gathered that, over the last four weeks.
He's called Don Manley on Friday.
And you will get to read his mind, won't you, and work out his tricks and so on?
-Work out his likes and dislikes.
What interests me is two down.
-On two down we've got "At last, restricting new spies in terms of resources".
"At last" is likely to be finally,
and in the crossword world, "spies" is nearly always CIA.
OK. Well, that's a new one for me, you know.
Spies are always CIA, right.
So if you put "CIA" inside "finally", you'll get financially.
-And that means "in terms of resources".
Very good. It's easy when you know.
But of course you had to know the code that spies
equals CIA, didn't you?
I did, but that's something I can keep with me.
It is difficult. You do get coincidences in crosswords.
I very nearly got fired,
because there was a clue which was "outcry at Tory assassination"
and the solution was "blue murder".
Perfect clue, nothing wrong with it,
except it appeared on the day that a Tory was assassinated.
'The Conservative MP, Ian Gow, is murdered at his home in East Sussex,
killed by a bomb placed underneath his car.
It looks as though it's deliberate...
it's not deliberate.
One day, a few weeks ago there were two Picasso paintings found,
and the compiler of that day
had a Picasso clue which was absolutely coincidental, but that was like a happy coincidence.
I think what's sad is if something very bad has happened on the day
and there's something gone in the crossword about a plane crash or something, then
you don't want that to happen but it's inevitable, I think, sometimes.
I can remember one compiler, who is sadly now dead,
said that during 9/11, the Twin Towers,
he had a crossword on-line which had "Pentagon"
with "Jet" going through the first "E" in Pentagon,
and that was the centre of the crossword on that day.
but it doesn't look like it.
'Actress appearing with Frank Sinatra in 1954 -significant time'
- could be Doris Day.
That's quite cheeky. "F. Sinatra", so it will be D Day - wouldn't it?
There is a tale,
quite a well-known tale - the crossword, and D-Day.
In The Telegraph crossword, sort of April, May and early June,
several code words used in D-Day appeared in the crossword.
This was brought to the attention of MI5 how, I don't know.
I just have this lovely vision of MI5 sitting and solving their crosswords.
They hauled in then-compiler, Mr Dawe.
They gave him a good going-over and he just explained it was,
you know, coincidence.
He was a schoolmaster, as well as a compiler and his school
was evacuated during the War down to the West Country,
and one of the pupils, Ronald French was his name, he used to go to where
his mother worked in the Canadian Forces canteen, and they mixed with
the Canadian soldiers, and they banded around the code words
for D-Day all the time.
What had happened was that what Dawe used to do
was he would get boys in to fill in the grid as part of detention.
And one day Ronald, for some reason or other, put all these words in.
We still don't know really about the code words.
It probably was just coincidence,
but it's a lovely story and it goes on and on and on.
I'm an artist and I was commissioned by Art on the Underground to produce
a project for Stanmore Station.
The project I decided to create uses crosswords at the core to represent
members of the community.
When I was doing research for the project,
I uncovered this really amazing poster in the archive of the
Transport Museum and the poster had a crossword on it
and it had a title that said "The Cockney Crossword".
The leaflet that went with this poster was actually
informing people how to behave in the tunnels during the Blitz.
People went down into the platforms
and actually would probably stay there most of the night
while there was an air raid going on.
But the crossword was being used, and it was something people could
share and that's sort of partly what I was interested in.
I used to go to school in Stanmore.
I used to travel past what was then an army barracks
and as I was doing research for the project I discovered that this army
barracks was actually once an out-station to Bletchley Park.
I suppose a piece of historical trivia that really grabbed my attention was that one of the main
recruitment exercises for recruiting code-breakers
was if you could complete the Daily Telegraph crossword
in under twelve minutes,
you had the potential to be a code-breaker,
so that's the connection between crosswords, Stanmore and Bletchley Park.
The commuter will be able to pick up a crossword booklet
which contains all the crosswords in the series
from any station along the Jubilee Line.
The only way you'll get the solutions to the crosswords is by actually travelling
to the end of the line and finding the solutions embedded in
the artwork at Stanmore Station.
Thanks all for coming here today.
You've all really helped me to get to this point of the project and I
just want to show you a piece of the work that will go up in the atrium
space that we're standing below.
All these puzzles we've created are really important,
they're not just puzzles, they're portraits,
so I wanted to put them into something grand
and sort of elevate this everyday thing, a crossword puzzle,
into something much more important.
'My initial idea was that I wanted each crossword
'that was produced to represent a group or a member of the community
'that I'd had a conversation with.
'A lot of my work stems from the conversation.'
I think I'll reveal the artwork.
Ooh! Isn't that beautiful!
We'll have these up and they'll be about two metres by two metres,
sort of squared, so they're gonna be pretty large, so
you can sort of look up and be able
to read the words, so it's the Sistine Chapel of Stanmore!
I think it's beautiful,
and I also feel like it's a bit like I've been let into a secret society,
with the whole cryptic crossword thing because I thought
originally I couldn't really get into them, but now I know the secrets.
I feel slightly...I feel good about it now... slightly.
One of the easiest types of clue to spot is the hidden clue.
Hidden ones are quite easy, usually,
because you've got all the letters in front of you.
The setter is actually saying 'hey, the needle might be in the haystack,
'but it's there, just find it'.
"Member of an ancient people in epic tale".
That little word "in"
is the secret here.
That tells you in this particular clue to look inside "epic tale"
and if you look in "epic tale", you see P-I-C-T, and you pick out
the P-I-C-T and you've got Pict,
who's a member of an ancient people.
Language always changes.
If it stayed the same, we'd be as dead as dodos.
I was Crossword Editor for a long time on The Telegraph, thirty years,
and in that time, the word changed so much.
I knocked out a few phrases that modern youth would never have heard
of and I was hard pushed at and I gradually brought in things like
bits and bites and RAMS and computer language,
but you do it very, very gradually and you change the meaning
of words very, very gradually and you cheat with the dictionary,
but that's half the fun -
finding words that do mean different things, like RAMS, they can be sheep
or things in computers, and that's the fun of it.
Phrases creep into everyday use
and when they're new, a crossword compiler will seize on them
and I'd a complaint from a couple of older guys one day who got in touch
with me and said, "Can you solve fifteen across in today's paper?"
and it was a clue about music and the answer was "gangsta rap"...
"gangsta" spelt with the "A" on the end in the correct way,
and these two guys had just never heard of it because they were
Radio 3 merchants, if you like!
Clues can become a little bit more modern.
I know my compilers are very fond of drug references, often have letters
in from people saying, "are they all addicts?",
but things like the fact that you can have an "E"
now has really helped them,
so Ecstasy has come into The Telegraph crossword society.
There was a gentleman called Dean Inge the compilers were very, very fond of in the '70s and '80s
and he was from Victorian times
and he was synonymous with gloom, so if you said, you know, "gloomy Dean"
the solution would be "Inge". Most people, you know, had not
a notion who this chap was, so I said "no more Dean Inge".
The daily newspapers tend to concentrate on relatively straightforward clues,
but they can get very sophisticated indeed.
Every now and again you can do a very special clue called the "& lit"
and literally, where the definition
and the anagram of whatever it is, cover the whole length of the clue
and the whole clue can be read in two different ways.
Here's a hidden "& lit".
"Part of it'it"...now that's now it's an apostrophe I-T,
Seven letters, and we all know what hit an iceberg, don't we?
The Titanic, right? Now look at the clue.
It's a hidden clue, isn't it?
"Part of it 'it an iceberg".
"Part of it 'it an iceberg" gives you "T",
then the "I-T", from apostrophe "I-T"...
we've cheated there, obviously, "an" - A-N,
I-C from "iceberg"
so the whole clue
is doing the thing in two different ways,
and that's a very special clue that we all try to strive for.
"Some in Commons term Mrs T one, abusively".
This is in the days when Margaret Thatcher
was still playing Mrs and it refers to her.
You may notice that "Some in Commons term" part of
the two word phrase "Commons term"
is M-O-N-S-T-E-R, but...
there's more to it than that.
"Mrs T one abusively"
suggests an anagram of "Mrs T One"
and an anagram of Mrs T One is "monster".
It's a multi-layered clue which is, I think, quite brilliant.
Now then for some reason, Wagner has been one of my
greatest heroes in life and therefore, Morse's great hero.
No woman would put up with me...
I play my records too loud.
You could get her ear plugs.
And he once told, and it's at the top of one of the chapters,
"We'll get excited with ring seat"
and the "ring seat", of course,
is a seat - a jolly good seat, going to see the Ring Of The Nibelung.
What we've got is W-E
"with ring seat"
and then "get excited".
The letters get jumbled around, moved around, "excited",
and that is Wagnerites.
Can you solve the first ever crossword clue
-that I wrote as a child?
-Go on, then.
-At 14 years old.
-And what's the clue?
-"Imperative he fetch his fruit".
-"Imperative he fetch his fruit".
-Imperative he fetch his fruit?".
-Yeah. Five letters.
-Yeah. First letter is?
How would that be, "Imperative he fetch his fruit"?
-You're a crossword doctor!
-I know I am.
-I'm a simple man.
I'm a writer. I'm a simple man.
-"Imperative he fetch his fruit?".
-It may not be a very sound clue, is it?
-It's a very sound clue.
Oh, God, yes, absolutely entomologically the most sound...
it's all sewn up, baby!
-It ends in "O", the last letter is "O".
-It ends in O? Mango. Mango.
There you go. Man-go. "Imperative he fetch his fruit"... Man go, that's an imperative.
Crossword doctor, crossword schmoctor!
There it is. That's our puzzle
and I hope you've enjoyed looking at it.
Going from this simple definition in the foothills
of these rather tedious mountains up to the top of Everest,
it's analogous to opening the doors of delight, isn't it?
Fashions change, intellectuals' fashions change,
but you know, I'm quite sure that the crossword will still be with us
when my grandson is an old man.
There's something about it, and I know so many people who
just turn straight to the back page
and I understand that, as a former journalist why they might.
I meet university students doing it and I think,
oh, they've just started doing the crossword! Yes!
Which is really, really exciting...for me, anyway.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
A look at the world of cryptic crosswords, offering up the secrets of these seemingly impenetrable puzzles.
Crossword setter Don Manley, AKA Quixote, reveals the tricks that compilers use to bamboozle and entertain solvers using a crossword he created especially for the programme.
We also find out why Britain became home to the cryptic crossword, how a crossword nearly put paid to the D-Day invasion and why London Underground is elevating the crossword to an art form.
Author Colin Dexter explains why Inspector Morse loved his crossword, Martin Bell reveals how his father became the first crossword setter of the Times without ever having solved one and the crossword editor of the Daily Telegraph opens up her postbag.
Also sharing their enthusiasm for cryptic crosswords are actors Prunella Scales and Simon Russell Beale, Val Gilbert of the Daily Telegraph and Jonathan Crowther, AKA Azed of the Times.