The big fat Christmas quiz 2023

AI breakthroughs to royal breakdowns — what do you remember, asks Nick Curtis
How much do you remember of 2023?
ES composite

It was a year of conflict in Ukraine and Gaza, of Cop28 and the Rwanda Bill; the year Jacinda Ardern, Nicola Sturgeon and Rupert Murdoch stepped down, and the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Dolly Parton released new music; the year scientists created a human embryo solely from stem cells and found a 476,000-year-old wooden structure, the world’s oldest, in Zambia.

But how much were you really paying attention to events in 2023? Take our quiz to find out.

 1. Which of these were not a major factor in international news throughout the year?

a. Wars.

b. Earthquakes, hurricanes, cyclones, floods, wildfires.

c. Plagues of frogs/boils.

2. The UK has famously had five prime ministers since 2016, as well as seven home secretaries (eight, if Suella Braverman’s two stints are counted separately). But how many cabinet posts has Grant Shapps held since 2019, including his new berth at the Ministry of Defence?

a. Five.

b. Seven.

c. 23.

3. What was the name of the ghostwriter of Prince Harry’s memoir Spare, published in February?

a. Omid Scobie.

b. Paul Lynch.

c. JR Moehringer.


Prince Harry's memoir, Spare

4. In February, which notorious musical figure failed in a bid to represent Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest with a tune called Hawaii?

a. Shane MacGowan.

b. John Lydon.

c. Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

 5. A new country joined Nato in April. Which was it?

a. Finland.

b. Sweden.

c. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 6. Who or what were Vikram and Pragyan?

a. The donor and recipient in the world’s first whole-eye transplant in November (their surnames withheld to protect privacy).

b. AI systems that were found in April to be more reliable than human doctors in predicting cancers in patients by reviewing their medical records.

c. The lunar lander and lunar rover of India’s Chandrayaan-3 spaceship which landed near the south pole of the moon in August.

7. Which of these did not happen in August?

a. For the first time ever, the top six selling singles in the Official Chart were by women singers, with Billie Eilish at number one and Dua Lipa at number two.

b. The world’s oceans reached a record high temperature of 20.96C, and it was also the hottest month on record.

c. Chinese president Xi Jinping was elected for a record third term.

8. Why did cricketer Johnny Bairstow go viral in June?

a. He picked up a Just Stop Oil protester and carried him off the pitch during the Ashes at Lord’s.

b. He announced on TikTok that he thinks about the Holy Roman Empire at least three times a day.

c. He was suspended for saying that the Government’s language around the issue of immigration was similar to that used in Germany in the Thirties.

Camilla, Queen Consort looks on as Penny Mordaunt leads King Charles III wearing the St Edward's Crown during his coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey on May 6, 2023 in London
Getty Images

 9. What was the secret code name for the King’s Coronation in May?

a. Operation Golden Orb.

b. Operation Spider Letter.

c. Operation Save Big Ears.

 10. Who left as chief designer for Alexander McQueen after 13 years?

a. Phoebe Philo.

b. Sarah Burton.

c. Haider Ackermann.

 11. Which of these decisions about a major cultural institution was announced then reversed?

a. The English National Opera was told it would lose its Arts Council England grant unless it left the Coliseum and moved to the North.

b. The BBC Singers were axed.

c. Sir Elton John retired from performing live with a farewell concert at Glastonbury.

A Sag-Aftra demonstration in the US (Chris Pizzello/AP)

 12. How long did the SAG-AFTRA actors’ strike last?

a. 118 days.

b. 119 days.

c. 120 days.

13. The Oxford Dictionary word of the year was a contraction of an existing word. Which was it?

a. “Rizz”, from “charisma”, denoting a person’s pulling power or game.

b. “Miz”, from “miserable”, summing up how most of us felt throughout 2023.

c. “Jizz”, from “majesty”, referring to a person’s innate nobility or poise.

 14. Who wore custom-made outfits by Loewe, Gaultier, McQueen, Mugler, Marni, Courreges and Diesel, and where?

a. Rihanna at the Super Bowl half-time show (and they were all maternity outfits).

b. Taylor Swift on her Eras Tour.

c. Beyoncé on her Renaissance Tour.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey embark on a pulse-racing journey across a decaying America in The Last of Us
Liane Hentscher/HBO

15. Which runaway hit of 2023 was based on a computer game and featured a zombie-creating fungal infection named cordyceps?

a. Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.

b. Oppenheimer, starring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh.

c. The Last of Us, starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.

 16. Which of these iconic buildings did not reopen or get the go-ahead to reopen?

a. The O2 Academy in Brixton, after it meets “extensive” safety conditions.

b. The HMV Store on Oxford Street, four years after it closed.

c. The Crooked House pub in Staffordshire, after it burned down in August.

17. England’s Lionesses ended up losing the World Cup final 1-0 to Spain, but who scored the goals in their 2-1 quarter final win over Columbia?

a. Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo.

b. Georgia Stanway and Lauren James.

c. Ella Toone and Keira Walsh.

Fans watch Australia v England
England fans celebrate the opening goal during a screening of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 semi-final between Australia and England at BOXPARK Wembley, London

18. A picture sold for £85.3 million at Sotheby’s in June, the highest price paid for an artwork at auction in Europe. What was it?

a. Picasso’s Femme A La Montre.

b. Klimt’s Lady With a Fan.

c. Banksy’s Love Is In The Bin.

19. Jack Thorne’s The Motive and the Cue — starring Mark Gatiss, Johnny Flynn and Tuppence Middleton — won best play in this year’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards. What was it about?

a. The mental preparation Ronnie O’Sullivan undergoes before a snooker competition.

b. A group of dyslexics waiting outside Harvey Nichols for the winter sale to start.

c. Sir John Gielgud directing Richard Burton in Hamlet on Broadway, shortly after Burton had married Elizabeth Taylor.

20. What officially became London’s most popular tourist attraction when it drew 6,252,356 visitors in a year?

a. Tate (combined numbers from Tate Modern and Tate Britain).

b. Westfield (combined numbers for Shepherd’s Bush and Stratford).

c. The Now Building and its video screens in the Outernet development at Tottenham Court Road.


1c, 2a, 3c, 4b, 5a, 6c, 7c (Xi Jinping was re-elected in March), 8a, 9a, 10b, 11b, 12a, 13a, 14c, 15c, 16c, 17a, 18b, 19c, 20c