Pretty Girl In Crimson Rose

Why do nearly two million people do the crossword on a Saturday morning? What is the mysterious allure of these little black and white squares - and what do they tell us about ourselves? Sandy Balfour unravels some clues to our national identity.

Sandy meets the newspaper editors who publish the puzzles, the ordinary folk who do them with almost religious fervour, and of course the people who compile the cryptic crosswords, giving us clues like 'Potty Train' = 'Loco' as well as 'Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose', the answer to which is 'Rebelled'.

Since moving from his native South AFRICA to Britain, writer and television producer Sandy Balfour has come to love crosswords, and particularly that class of cryptic puzzle found in the British broadsheet press.

Falling in love with crosswords has mirrored the process of falling in love with the country which he now calls home.

Crosswords are compiled all over the world.

In the UNITED STATES, for instance, they are immensely popular but are more literal and less quirky than they are here.

In FRANCE, on the other hand, crosswords rely on elaborate puns and word-play.

Puns do play a large part in British crosswords, to be sure, but because there are so many more words in the ENGLISH language than in any other, the opportunities afforded crossword setters are limitless.

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Why do nearly two million people do the crossword on a Saturday morning? What is the mysterious allure of these little black and white squares - and what do they tell us about ourselves? Sandy Balfour unravels some clues to our national identity.

Sandy meets the newspaper editors who publish the puzzles, the ordinary folk who do them with almost religious fervour, and of course the people who compile the cryptic crosswords, giving us clues like 'Potty Train' = 'Loco' as well as 'Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose', the answer to which is 'Rebelled'.

Since moving from his native South AFRICA to Britain, writer and television producer Sandy Balfour has come to love crosswords, and particularly that class of cryptic puzzle found in the British broadsheet press.

Falling in love with crosswords has mirrored the process of falling in love with the country which he now calls home.

Crosswords are compiled all over the world.

In the UNITED STATES, for instance, they are immensely popular but are more literal and less quirky than they are here.

In FRANCE, on the other hand, crosswords rely on elaborate puns and word-play.

Puns do play a large part in British crosswords, to be sure, but because there are so many more words in the ENGLISH language than in any other, the opportunities afforded crossword setters are limitless.