David Cameron no whiz on Letterman's late-night British history quiz
The Associated Press
Published Thursday, September 27, 2012 6:19AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 27, 2012 6:47AM EDT
LONDON -- Prime Minister David Cameron has failed to excel on a British history quiz administered by American talk-show host David Letterman.
Cameron was unable to provide the English translation of Magna Carta (Great Charter) or name the composer of "Rule Britannia" (Thomas Arne).
His appearance on the "Late Show" overshadowed his earlier speech to the United Nations General Assembly, at least in the British media Thursday.
He was judged by critics to have been a bit wooden and not terribly funny, but was not seen to have embarrassed himself during the appearance. His fellow guests were also British -- actor Jonny Lee Miller and band Mumford & Sons.
The prime minister was able to name the year Magna Carta -- the legal charter that provided the basis for Britain's constitutional law -- was drawn up (1215) and to describe its role in the development of democracy.
And he got a laugh from the studio audience when he described Britain's historic relations with the United States.
"There were some good bits and some less than good bits, and obviously we had a bit of a falling out," he said. I like to think we've got over that now."
But the gaps in his knowledge provided an opening for Cameron's political opponents.
"Great to see a witty and intelligent Brit do so well to promote his country on Letterman last night," tweeted former deputy prime minister John Prescott. "Well done Jonny Lee Miller! "