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Christine Lovatt talks Starhunts


By Christine Lovatt

When James and I first started compiling crosswords, back in the 70s, we found that nearly all crosswords used those odd words that you only ever see in crosswords – such as ambo (an oblong pulpit), arras ( a wall hanging to conceal an alcove), eyot or ait (isle in a river) or umiak (Eskimo boat rowed by women).

These vowel-rich words are necessary as building blocks, to link words up on a grid. But we decided to experiment and instead of using obscure words that you might never need to use in normal conversation, we would use famous names as clues. Politicians, actors, scientists, inventors, sports stars – as long as they were well-known, they could find themselves in one of our crosswords.

At the time, it was thought to be quite a bizarre move in crosswording circles, with many a muttered criticism of “You can’t do that! – it’s just not done!”

However, it got the green light with our puzzlers, which is the most important thing, and soon after this, that most flattering of compliments – imitation.

Many crosswords now use famous names, along with photos, and we have discovered through our readers it has been very useful as an educational tool, learning not just about the English language but also about the movers and shakers of the world, whether famous or infamous, who have made their mark.

In Lovatts crosswords, either online here at YouPlay or in our puzzle magazines, you’ll find various clues about the eminent, including comedians, rulers, authors – even the odd escapologist or spoon-bender.  Irish actor Pierce Brosnan once said: “Fame is like a big piece of meringue – it’s beautiful and you keep eating it, but it doesn’t really fill you up.”

However, we like to think our crosswords fill your mind with useful information plus the satisfaction of solving them. And anyway, even if he wasn’t so good-looking, Pierce would always be a star in my book. In fact, he has been a star in my book of Starhunts. Many of you love these code-cracker style puzzles which feature a celebrity as the answer.You can play them on YouPlay here .

We often receive mail asking about more information on these famous people, so we've started a new section of our Lovatts website dedicated to the celebrities who have appeared in our puzzles.

Happy Puzzling!

Christine Lovatt


8 Responses to

Christine Lovatt talks Starhunts

January 28, 2011 at 11:51 AM

That is a most interesting twist on puzzles, to actually write about the famous people you use for clues. Thank you Christine.

Xrosie said:
January 29, 2011 at 8:18 AM

I LOVE LOVE Starhunts, the first section I do in any of Lovatts books Thank you for the future books

January 29, 2011 at 9:02 AM

any chance of those style crosswords making it onto youplay? I really enjoy starhunts but also Popwords, during which i sing the clues, much to the distress of those around me at the time. Not to worry if you can't, I'll still buy the mags and do them there. Thanks for the years of pleasure you have given me. Deb

kjs2036au said:
February 01, 2011 at 12:44 PM

You too Debbie :) My kids refuse to let me do popword puzzles if they're with me on the bus as I sing/hum under my breath to get the answer.

February 02, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Oh yeah, Starhunts are fantastic! Love them. Isn't it funny, though, that I find them easier in the books than I find the Code Crackers on YouPlay? I wonder why... but anyways, they're all great! :D



February 02, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Thanks for all your feedback. Deb, there are StarHunts on youplay but we call them CodeCrackers. Yes I know what you mean about singing along to the clues, but I tell my kids that it's a mother's job to embarrass them!

February 04, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Hi there Christine, I agree with 'CrackedChelle'. I find them much easier to do in books than on the computer. Why? Is it that you can erase a mistake on a book, but have to start completely again on the computer? Whichever I love both the books and computer for my daily 'brain exercises'. Thank you for hours of enjoyment.

daffydill said:
February 06, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Arcticprincess, you don't have to start again, on the computer, if you put in an incorrect letter. Either click on a blue square, or hit 'delete' or 'backspace' and the incorrect letter/s are erased.