Test your knowledge and ingenuity – quick quiz about a national institution

As we’re getting relaxed for the holiday season, here’s a quick quiz about a national institution. It’s not politically related but I suspect it’s on a subject dear to many readers’ hearts.

Look at the wooden box on the right. You can see that it’s nondescript, very battered and held together with insulation tape. It’s 35 years old.

It’s used to create the sounds of what could justifiably be called a “national institution”.

The question is: What sound is this box used to produce?

Please answer in the comments below. The title “2016 Sound effect guru of the year” awaits the first person with the most accurate answer.

We’ll give you the answer and announce the winner in a fresh post tomorrow.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in The Arts.


  • nigel hunter 22nd Dec '16 - 11:01am

    Has it something to do with the BT pips? It,s not Big Ben or BBC pips is it?

  • Chris Bertram 22nd Dec '16 - 11:48am

    It must contain the sacred recording of “Sailing By” as played at R4 closedown each night. Or perhaps it’s the theme tune to “PM”, unheard since the death of Diana, but kept safe until a time of extreme need demands its return to save the nation!

  • Oh! go on, I’ll have a guess.
    It was used to record the sound of the lottery balls being dropped.

  • David Evershed 22nd Dec '16 - 3:42pm

    How about the seagulls sound effects on the radio 4 Desert Island Discs programme?

  • David Butcher 22nd Dec '16 - 5:15pm

    How about the speaking clock?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 22nd Dec '16 - 5:35pm

    If its BBC Birmingham, is it something to do with The Archers? Perhaps the box creaking as it opens and closes makes the sound of the door opening at Brookfield, or Grange farm etc?

  • David Pocock 22nd Dec '16 - 11:47pm

    I’m going for pedantic liberal of the year so…

    That tape is gaffer tape not insulation tape lol

  • Stephen Booth 23rd Dec '16 - 8:28am

    Wooden boxes belonging to the BBC’s sound laboratory and used to bang together to announce the arrival of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (all that wear and tear has occurred this year alone).

  • Daniel Walker 23rd Dec '16 - 8:29am

    Is it The Archers‘ rain sound-effect box?

  • Philip Knowles 23rd Dec '16 - 8:38am

    Horses hooves on The Archers?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Dec '16 - 8:38am

    Is it the bar at the Archers’ pub, The Bull?

  • russell.houchin 23rd Dec '16 - 9:01am

    Its a soapbox, surely.

    Speaker is able to be seen, its function is to lift the person and the sound of their voice can be transmitter more clearly over a broader audience than if stood on terra firma.

  • haven’t got a clue, passed to the Non Blonds

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 23rd Dec '16 - 2:18pm

    Thank you, Paul 🙂

  • It makes the sound of cows going into the milking parlour at Brookfield?

  • Simon Banks 27th Dec '16 - 6:30pm

    35 years old – that means dating from 1981. Margaret Thatcher’s deeper voice (she stuck her head in the box to do it)? Something to do with the radio series “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”? No idea what, because I never heard it – only read the books and saw bits of the TV version. But the wording is “is used”, so presumably it’s still in use. It must be something to do with the SDP. OK, it doesn’t exist any more, but the SDP-Liberal Alliance does, in the shape of the Liberal Democrats. But then, 1981 was when Labour voted for an electoral college with a big union element to choose the party leader. The sound of Labour politicians having a go at one another? OK, the electoral college has gone, but Labour internal rancour hasn’t.

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