An appreciation

DAVE Rainford, who has died of heart disease aged 51, turned his hobby into a job, initially earning a living by cleaning out quiz machines in pubs around the North of England, then winning £250,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? before joining the regular team of professional quizzers on BBC’s long-running quiz show Eggheads.

Rainford first attracted national media attention when he was barred from pubs back in the early days of quiz machines. “At one pub in Wigan, where I'd been on a particular winning streak, things turned nasty and I was threatened with physical violence,” he said.

He had a regular late-night slot on Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio. Listeners would phone up to test him with questions and when he got them right the host would say “Tremendous knowledge, Dave.” It became his nickname and Tremendous Knowledge Dave was a familiar figure at quiz events throughout England and one of the most popular people on the circuit.

I only met him a few times, but he always made it seem like we were close friends. I remember the first time we met. He sat down next to me, then he thought he had better get himself a pint and offered me one too, though it was 11 in the morning. I have rarely met such a cheerful, friendly, generous and positive person.

Born David Omotayo Domingo in Manchester in 1968, his heritage was Jamaican and Nigerian. He was brought up by his mother’s mother and took her name. He started setting questions for quiz shows after a friend spotted an advert in The Times. A passionate Manchester United fan, he managed to pose one question on Channel 5’s show 100%, asking if the Liverpool home strip was all white, all red, or green with envy.

He spent £1,000 on premium-rate phone calls before he got onto Who Wants to be a Millionaire? in 2005. He correctly identified Chaplin as the individual not born in 1899 out of Chaplin, Bogart, Hemingway and Duke Ellington to win £250,000. For £500,000 he thought Mungo Park was a surgeon as well as an explorer, but he was not certain and decided he would settle for £250,000. When told he would have been right with surgeon his response was a modest, “Fair enough”.

He joined Eggheads in 2012. In one programme he found himself playing by himself in the final round against all five players in the challenging team, after his colleagues all lost their individual head-to-heads. It went to a tie-break and the challengers all got their question wrong.

Tremendous Knowledge Dave showed little emotion when asked the German name for Bavaria. He would not have wanted to look smug. He took his time, but he knew it from the team his heroes had beaten in the most dramatic European Champions League final ever. The answer was Bayern.

His specialisms were Sport and Entertainment. Teammate Pat Gibson recalled that after a day of filming in Glasgow they went to watch the Glasgow Rocks basketball team and met the players. “Later our taxi driver turned out to be a former member of the pop band Marmalade, to Dave’s delight – pop and sport on the same outing.”

He had health and mobility issues that worsened over time, but he appeared at numerous charity events and still found time to compete in the Withington Pub Quiz League. He is survived by his wife, Tina, and daughter Ella.