Hive Minds



Fiona Bruce


Green Inc. Film & Television and Saltbeef TV for BBC Four, 14 July 2015 to 1 December 2016 (26 episodes in 2 series)


How do you fill a hole left by Only Connect? The most successful series in BBC4's history transferred to BBC2 a year earlier. A number of shows were taken to unaired pilots, Hive Minds went to a full series.

The idea is simple: quiz questions, to which the answers are hidden in a "hive" - a hexagon of connected hexagons. The answer word will be linked, it can snake back but doesn't use any letter more than once.

Keep reading for the answer.

This is The Fourth Programme, slogan "Everybody needs a place to think". The questions need a bit of thought. You might see "Aquarius" in the hive above, but a water carrier doesn't have four legs.

This question comes from the opening round. After two seconds of thought, letters will begin to disappear from the hive. Points will also disappear. If the team can't get the answer after half the hive has gone, the question will go over to the other side for a bonus point. Later questions in this round require two answers, which won't share any letters.

Hive Minds is played by two teams of three. Whichever team leads after this round gets first pick in the second round. Three answers, 45 seconds to find them. This time, it's made more difficult because only one player is active at any time, and the team is only allowed two passes. Fiona Bruce, the host, explains it well, and the visuals tell us who is playing at any time, but this round feels unnecessarily complex.

Find eight card games.

The Superhive is the centrepiece of the show: another hive, one unique solution uses all the letters. Two minutes of tracing letters out, perhaps deleting some blind alleys, and hoping to see the hive flash in multi-coloured glory.

The show finishes with a multiple hive: each hive has six answers (and some false leads), Fiona will clue one of the answers, and the teams race to say it. As in the opening round, some of the letters disappear after a few seconds. When time is up, a winner is declared, and the tournament rolls on.

Hive Minds was perhaps closest to the early series of Only Connect. Two teams of three, with a mildly pretentious name. Questions that hadn't yet worked out how to meld high and low culture. A host who hadn't yet put her stamp on the role. If recommissioned, it would get better. The initial viewer response was negative, perhaps we'd become accustomed to the easy fun of Victoria Coren.


2015 Trivium
2016 Prime


Hugh Rycroft and Stephen Stewart with Jeremy Salsby.

Theme music

Banks & Wag wrote a full score.


Computer graphics were put together by Liquid.

Hive Minds was filmed in Belfast.

The studio is lit in orange and purple, like many early Channel 5 productions.

The zodiac sign is Aries, and the card games (clockwise from top left): Cheat, Snap, Primero, Blackjack, Brag, Cribbage, Baccarat, Pontoon.

Not content with trying it on with their Only Connect knock-off "Connections", in March 2024, the New York Times pillaged this show for their own "NYT Strands". What next? Lingo? (Oh.)

Web links

BBC programme page

Wikipedia entry

See also

Weaver's Week review


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