Friday 13 March 2009

Mastermind - First Round Heat 21/24

Practically a photo finish

The BBC's inscrutable campaign to sabotage the original Mastermind show continues. For at exactly the same time that the show began tonight on BBC2, a version of Celebrity Mastermind, featuring David Tennant, and Screamin' Davina hosted by John Humphrys made up a small segment of the Comic Relief Extravaganza. Coincidence ? I should cocoa.If you missed the original and best, then its a shame, since it was a great episode tonight, and the tension for me was heightened by the fact that I know two of tonight's contenders. Howard Pizzey took part in the 2007 series of blessed memory, and achieved the unenviable feat of scoring a massive 29 in the first round, but still not getting to the semi finals. Howard had no luck whatsoever last year, so my fingers were resolutely crossed for him.

I also know David Porch, in as much as David is a 'face' in the pub quiz circuit between Cardiff and Bridgend. We've played against each other in many quizzes. Eagle eyed viewers might also have spotted David playing for one of the teams in Battle of the Brains a couple of weeks ago. David , who is new to Mastermind,was answering questions on the films of Sidney Poitier. It was a virtuoso performance too, and these questions were no picnic. 14 and 1 pass sounded like a pretty good score to me.

Paul Moorhouse is not someone I know personally, but he is not unknown in Mastermind circles. This was, I believe his third Mastermind performance, having made the semi finals in both 2000 in the Radio 4 Mastermind competition, and the 2004 series. It seemed to me that he had some very long questions on his subject of British Trotskyism, so 12 points and no passes was not by any means a bad return.

Howard then made his return to the Mastermind chair. His subject was British Number 1 hit singles. Howard scored 14 points and no passes, which was a great performance. But then Howard is officially amazing on pop music - so it was no surprise to see him rattle off the points as if he was shelling peas. Still, this week was a high scoring show so far. Howard missed a couple of answers, so it looked as if it would all come down to General Knowledge.

Finishing off the specialist round we had Jessica Wilkes-Mellor, our second newcomer of the week, answering on the Life and Career of Edie Sedgwick. No, I'm sorry, I didn't know anything about her either. However Miss Wilkes-Mellor did , scoring 6 points and 5 passes.

In the second round John Humphrys confirmed my suspicions by opening up the chat section with the gambit that nobody would ever have heard of Edie Sedgwick. After listening to Miss Wilkes-Mellor I do know a little more about her now. Ironically in the GK round she was asked about paraskaivedakatriaphobia - fear of Friday 13th ! That's got to be a deliberate piece of scheduling. It wasn't the finest general knowledge round, but then Miss Wilkes-Mellor looks very young, and had the perfect attitude, giving an appealing 'its only a game' laugh before going back to her seat. Nothing to be ashamed of.

Paul Moorhouse stunned John Humphrys into a minute's silence with his revelation that he is a Trotskyist himself, and his erudite explanation thereof.. Then on with the questions. This was a good, old-Mastermind-hand's round. A couple of times he seemed to be stymied on the questions, and wasted a little time, but on both occasions the answer he came up with was the correct one. 13 and no passes put him right back into contention.

David Porch came next , paying tribute to Sidney Poitier as the first great black cinema star. He delivered a measured performance, and certainly didn't miss a lot. However the last question just eluded him, and left him too on 25 points. Yet we know when a tie break is coming because they don't show hardly any of the traditional between rounds Humphrys chat. We had the chat, so obviously there was going to be a winner. Could it possibly be Howard this time round ?

Well it didn't look like it at the start of the round. Howard passed on three early questions. It looked as if he had decided on the tactic of blasting away at the answers as quickly as possible , and this tactic suddenly looked as if it was going to work. Howard suddenly clicked into gear and for the next minute he was banging them in from all angles , to use a footballing analogy. He'd scored 11 to put him also on 25, and there was enough time left for 2 more questions, either of which would put him through. He didn't get the first one, and the second - well the second was a gardening question, and these are notoriously difficult to pluck out of thin air. For the first time ever, the audience audibly gasped when John Humphrys called out the score - 25 as well. Yet no tie break, so obviously we had a winner on passes. Howard's go-for-broke tactics in the GK round was enough to count him out with 3 passes. David's 2 passes would have been good enough on many another occasion. Not tonight, though. Paul Moorhouse knows a thing or two about getting to the semi finals. Providing answers to every question you're asked, whether you know the answer or not, isn't easy. It takes massive concentration and presence of mind, but it can really pay dividends. So it was tonight.

So well done on a great and exciting show, and huge commiserations to Howard and to David. As for Paul, well, this will be his third crack at getting to the final, and who is to say that it won't be third time lucky? Not me.

The Details

David Porch The films of Sidney Poitier 14 - 1 11-125 - 2
Paul MoorhouseBritish Troskyism12 - 0 13 - 0 25 - 0
Howard Pizzey British Number 1 hit singles 14 - 011 - 3 25 - 3
Jessica Wilkes - MellorThe Life and Career of EdieSedgwick6 - 5 5 - 4 11 - 9

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