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North Norfolk TV game show veteran named series winner in BBC2’s Only Connect

PUBLISHED: 18:16 08 April 2017 | UPDATED: 18:18 08 April 2017

Retired teacher Phyl Styles, who has won the series final of the fiendishly difficult BBC2 quiz show, Only Connect. Picture: Karen Bethell

Retired teacher Phyl Styles, who has won the series final of the fiendishly difficult BBC2 quiz show, Only Connect. Picture: Karen Bethell

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TV game show veteran Phyl Styles of Sheringham is celebrating, after her team won the series final in the devilishly difficult BBC2 quiz show, Only Connect.

Retired teacher Phyl Styles with her fellow contestants on the BBC2 quiz show, Only Connect. Picture: suppliedRetired teacher Phyl Styles with her fellow contestants on the BBC2 quiz show, Only Connect. Picture: supplied

Retired modern languages teacher Mrs Styles, who appeared on University Challenge as a student studying French and Italian at Southampton University in the 1970s, has been a contestant on shows including Channel 4’s Fifteen-to-One, BBC2’s Catchword and the words and numbers classic Countdown.

She was thrilled to reach the semi-final of the Victoria Coren Mitchell-hosted quiz, which has been dubbed ‘Britain’s hardest quiz show’.

And she and her team mates - former University Challenge contestant Thomas Cappleman and fellow Countdown contestant Graeme Cole – felt “incredulous” when they got through to the final, which was screened on Friday, and were named series winners.

“It was one of those ‘over the moon’ moments,” she said. “It was totally unexpected and, afterwards, we went back to the dressing room and just jumped up and down.”

The winning margin was 26-18, with Mrs Styles’ team The Verbivores scoring a victory over the Cosmopolitans who, until that point had been undefeated.

By appearing on eight programmes, the team took the longest possible route to the final, deciding early on that their main tactic would be avoiding music questions, Mrs Styles, 66, explained.

“Unfortunately, we picked them seven times out of eight, but all credit to my fast and knowledgeable team mates who put in some brilliant quizzing on our behalf,” she said.

Mrs Styles, who retired to Sheringham with her husband Alan last year after juggling a 40-year teaching career with bringing up her own two children and fostering more than 100 babies and toddlers, said her “piece de resistance” was remembering an obscure fact she learned at school 50 years ago.

“It was that the question mark in Greek is a semi-colon, which gave us several bonus points at a key moment,” she explained.

Mrs Styles hasn’t ruled out applying for more TV quizzes but said that, for the moment, she plans to concentrate on her role as a volunteer at Sheringham Little Theatre and her hobbies of badminton, tennis and bird watching.

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