Derby Dead Pool 2003: Inane Analysis
Putting the "anal" into analysis.

The game

With the late start, this is a smaller game than last year, with only 24 teams choosing 246 nominees (as opposed to 42 choosing 361).

As a number of popular choices died in 2002, we've now got a wider field, with a ratio of 10.25 nominees per player, as opposed to 8.59 last year - this is reflected in the fact that 21 make it into our top ten most popular choices. This, and the wider spread of jokers, should make it a more interesting game.

The choices

These are the top ten choices:

Position   Position last year   Name   Number of players   Number of jokers
1st (1st) Ronald Reagan 14 0
=2nd (=2nd) Bob Hope 13 3
(=4th) Pope John Paul II 13 1
=4th (=53rd) Zsa Zsa Gabor 8 1
(=8th) Thora Hird 8 0
=6th (=11th) Ronnie Biggs 7 2
(=14th) Katharine Hepburn 7 0
=8th (-) Warren Zevon 6 4
(=14th) George Best 6 0
=10th (=37th) Muhammad Ali 5 0
(=66th) Ian Brady 5 0
(=17th) Vaclav Havel 5 0
(=30th) Charlton Heston 5 0
(= 117th) Alex Higgins 5 0
(=17th) Sir John Mills 5 0
(-) Sharon Osbourne 5 0
(=11th) Augusto Pinochet 5 1
(=66th) Prince Rainier of Monaco 5 0
(=30th) Leni Riefenstahl 5 1
(=117th) Denis Thatcher 5 0
(=54th) Margaret Thatcher 5 0
(5th) Boris Yeltsin 5 0

Many of the rises in the table can be explained by "natural wastage". Four of last year's top ten died, which explains some shuffling around - the Pope's rise up the charts is due to the death last year of the more highly-placed Queen Mother and Dudley Moore. So in fact there are no changes in the position of the top three.

Ronnie Reagan has polled 58.3% of the popular vote, so it's surprising to see that he hasn't pulled any jokers. Meanwhile, Zsa Zsa Gabor was boosted into fourth place by her recent car accident and coma.

Moors Murderer Ian Brady's rise is no doubt due to the death last year of his partner-in-crime Myra Hindley, which put him back in the public eye and reminded everyone of his long-standing hunger strike. Prince Rainier's similar leap follows his hospitalisation and reports of his continuing ill-health.

Osama bin Laden is the only person to have dropped out of the top ten without being definitely dead, perhaps reflecting contestants' feelings that he has indeed died or that his death may never be confirmed one way or the other. Boris Yeltsin is the only other person to drop in the ratings - it can't be because the pickled old souse is any less likely to die, but probably because he's taking a long time about it and has slipped from public awareness lately. To compensate, perhaps, Vladimir Putin is a new entry into the field.

Newcomers to the top ten are Warren Zevon and Sharon Osbourne. Ozzy's wife has gained a much higher profile since the broadcast of MTV's "The Osbournes" and has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, whereas Zevon's prominence must be put down to the contestants doing a bit of research and spotting a good bet.

Number-crunching is fun! (Oh, yes it is...)

Disclaimer: the following factoids are based on imperfect data - we couldn't (be arsed to) identify all the facts about celebs.

Women live longer...
Women are outnumbered 4 to 1 by men on contestants' lists.

Going for the double
There are five and a half married couples in the pool: the Hopes; the Reagans (with Jane Wyman making the half); the Thatchers; Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands; and of course Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Doctors tell us that the death of a spouse can hasten a person's death. We will see...

There are 29 nationalities represented in the 224 choices whose nationality has been identified (or guessed). These are dominated by the British (97 celebs, or 43%) and the Americans (80 celebs, or 36%), but there are also 6 from France; 3 each from Australia, Germany, Japan and Russia; 2 each from Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and South Africa; and 1 each from Argentina, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Colombia, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Monaco, Palestine, the Philippines, Poland, Thailand, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

The age of 218 nominations was identified:

Age Number of picks
0-10 1
11-20 0
21-30 0
31-40 5
41-50 18
51-60 11
61-70 28
71-80 60
81-90 58
91-100 27
101-110 8
110+ 2

The distribution indicates that most of us have reached the startling conclusion that older people are more likely to die than younger ones.

There is only one person in the list under 30 (7-year-old Kirsty Howard), compared to 10 aged over 100. The majority chosen are in the 70-90 range, perhaps on the basis that those who have reached their 90s or 100s are more likely to totter on for a few more years yet (most dead pool players are used to having a few disgustingly healthy nonagenarians on their teams, while watching the 60-year-olds who made it to the subs' bench start dropping off). More likely is the fact that there's a larger pool of "old celebs" to choose from than there is of "very old celebs".

The change in the rules as to what merits a score - any mention in the press is now sufficient, rather than purely a "proper" obit or a major story - will be a boost to those who choose the very old or those at the younger end. (For example, the world's oldest man would probably get a paragraph in most papers, but an obit in none.) Having to make the complex decisions about what counts is why we pay the judges the Big Bucks.

From a list of 253 (some people counted more than once, others couldn't be guessed at), occupations are dominated by the performing arts, with 95 (37%) being actors/musicians/entertainers. Next on the hit-list are politicians, with 31 choices (12%). We chose not to include various dictators, etc. as politicians, but the fact that there were 21 heads of state (or former heads of state) indicates that they are still a rich field for selections. Of these world leaders, 6 are crowned heads of state, showing that royals are also a popular choice (11 picks, or 4%). Just slightly more numerous, with 12 chosen, are criminals or those associated with scandal of one form or another.

Occupation Number of picks
Actor/performer 95
Politician 31
Head of state 21
Sports 16
Married 14
Writer 14
Criminal 12
Royal 11
Clergy 7
Military 7
Science 6
Business 6
Lawyer 5
Journalism 4
Charity 4
Exploration 2

Research, research, research...

Several teams show evidence of reading the newspapers or doing more in-depth research (nothing else could have prompted Warren Zevon's sudden rise from obscurity). This can reap rewards, but it is something of a gamble - Zevon could be another Carrie Hamilton, who died in 2002 but didn't merit a mention in the British press (and thus scored no points, which pissed Drunkasaskunk off no end).

Notable healthwatches include Brian Clough (urgent need for a liver transplant), Menzies Campbell (cancer announced in November 2002), Paul Daisley (announcement to Parliament in December that he had "weeks to live"), Major Ronald Ferguson (suffering from prostate cancer), Zsa Zsa Gabor (in a coma following a motor accident), Prince Rainier (on-going major health problems), Denis Thatcher (too ill to visit the Falkland Islands for the 20th anniversary of the war last year, and had a bypass operation in January 2003), and of course Warren Zevon (chronic lung cancer announced in September 2002).

Ambulance-chasing is an increasingly profitable occupation for lawyers - let's see if it brings in the points for DDPers...


Jokers are much more widely spread out this year - there are only three choices who attract more than one joker each (Ronnie Biggs with two, Bob Hope with three and the dark horse Warren Zevon with four). This means that, unlike last year, when a contestant scores with a joker, he/she/it is more likely to jump into the lead over the rest of the players. But it also means that a player who doesn't pick that celeb needn't feel quite so bad - he/she/it is more likely to be only chasing a sudden lead from one contestant and not six. Last year over 45% of players scored with their joker - it will be interesting to see what happens in 2003.

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