1 9 5 2 – 1 9 5 9 (UK)
Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? presented distinguished specialists attempting to guess the nature of museum exhibits – from cuttlefish beaks to Tibetan prayer wheels. It wasn’t as dull as it sounds – It was one of the BBC’s first major panel games . . . and the Queen liked it.
Once a fortnight, a team of three experts tried to identify a succession of objects taken from Britain’s museums, giving the UK’s greatest ‘national inheritance’ a plug in the process.
The first chairman was Lionel Hale, but, from the second programme, Cambridge University Fellow, Glyn Daniel, hosted proceedings.
Its star turn was archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, whose powers of observational deduction were second to none, though this wasn’t what made him such a draw. With a florid, expressive face, aided by an atavistic moustache made for twirling, he’d frown intensely at a flint axe or quern – hum, ha, squint, peer – then, in a cartoonish light bulb moment, all but leap in the air as the penny dropped.
Among the other experts taking part were archaeologist Adrian Digby, Norman Cook, Dr W.E. Swinton, Dr Julian Huxley, Jacquetta Hawkes, Professor Thomas Bodkin and other cerebral folk.
David Attenborough was the programme’s chief producer.
A short-lived revival was attempted in 1971.