Lucy hosts new quiz show...Puzzling

Thursday: Puzzling (Channel 5, 8pm)
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Historian Lucy Worsley has always seemed like a TV natural.

She first grabbed viewers’ attention in 2011 with the four-part series If Walls Could Talk, which explored the history of the British home, a job she was more than qualified for – she’s chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, and has also worked as an inspector of historic buildings for English Heritage.

But it wasn’t just Lucy’s knowledge that impressed audiences and programme-makers. She was also admirably at ease in front of the camera, and has proved time and time again that she’s more than willing to dress up to make history come to life.

Historian Lucy WorsleyHistorian Lucy Worsley
Historian Lucy Worsley
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So, it’s no wonder she was snapped up to present more documentaries, including Six Wives, British History’s Biggest Fibs and The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain.

The presenter has also shown an interest in crime, with the series A Very British Murder, her Radio 4 show Lady Killers, and a three-part profile of Agatha Christie.

When you consider that TV CV, it perhaps isn’t surprising that Channel 5 thought she would make a great quiz show host.

Or, as Lucy put it herself when Puzzling was first announced: “I’m delighted to be taking on the role of puzzle-mistress in this brand-new quiz show. I’ve spent most of my career finding answers to historical questions so getting to ask the questions is going to be an exciting new adventure for me, I can’t wait to get puzzling!”

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However, it seems that the reality of hosting a show in the studio proved to be more challenging than she expected.

She told the Daily Star newspaper’s Hot TV: “I’m a wreck, an utter heap of nerves. This is all new to me and the pressure of it is extraordinary.

“There are so many things that could go wrong for the contestants, but also for me. It’s been a real joy, but also nerve-wracking and terrifying. Normally I’m out with a very small crew stuck on a rainy street corner in Edinburgh. I’m not used to working with such a large, complex team in such a big TV studio.”

Luckily, it doesn’t seem to have taken too long for her to get the hang of it, and she’s now giving Only Connect host Victoria Coren Mitchell a run for her money.

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If you haven’t seen Puzzling yet, the programme’s format is designed to challenge every aspect of each player’s brain across five rounds which test their skills at language, calculation, lateral thinking, visual intelligence and memory.

The competitors initially form teams, but as the game progresses, turn on each other in a bid to come out on top – and win a place in the series final.

Tonight, it’s the turn of contestants from Bristol, London, Bromborough, Aberdeen, Fordingbridge and Croydon to take on the challenge. If they are feeling nervous, perhaps it would reassure them to know that even Lucy has found the process anxiety-inducing – and she’s the one with all the answers.