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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 19:52 GMT
Cryptic clue man's identity revealed
By Simon Hunter
BBC Newsline

Duggie Anderson
Duggie has several computer programmes to help him
The Daily Mail - the bastion of Middle England and second best-selling paper in the UK. Every day thousands of people do its crossword, but how many of them know who sets it?

Well, we can now tell you. It's not an Oxford professor from leafy Kent, it's Duggie Anderson from Killinchy, County Down.

For the last three years Duggie has set the Daily Mail crossword every Monday to Friday.

That's an incredible number of downs and acrosses, but, as Duggie admits, he has several computer programmes to help him design the crosswords. However, the cryptic clues are all his own work.

"It can come to you in a flash and you hone it a little bit if you need to. That can take 15 seconds to a minute" he said.

"On the other hand, you can sit staring at a word or words that you want to write a clue for and take 30 or 40 minutes, which includes 10 minutes of wandering around scratching your head, getting a cup of tea and suddenly something will happen.

"So you do get crossword compilers' block."

No pressure

But clearly not that often. Duggie works three weeks in advance, sometimes setting more than one puzzle a day so he's never under any real pressure from the Mail.

And he does try his best to make sure and sneak a few Northern Ireland clues in.

"It's nice to get a local reference in. The very word Ulster being an anagram of result was quite good last year because we got results didn't we? A result of a kind - a good clue for Ulster."

Preparation work
The County Down man usually works three weeks in advance

And what about the new puzzle on the block? Duggie knows that plenty of people now enjoy Sudoku but for him the crossword will always be king.

"Sudoku does represent quite an expansion in puzzles and people do enjoy them but, as a colleague of mine once said, he never learnt anything by doing Sudoku but he always learns a lot every time he does a crossword."

All that and not a single cross word about his boss. Duggie Anderson really does have his dream job.

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