Excuse my bitterness, but I have anticipated the return of the semi finals for three weeks now, and so I tuned in this evening to find what ? Yes, you've got it - welsh rugby ! Now, there's nothing wrong with welsh rugby, but not when its supposed to be Mastermind. Still, at least I managed to switch to BBC2 England.
First up this week was Life After Mastermind reader Nancy Dickmann. You may remember that Nancy was extremely impressive in her first round heat answering on the Amelia Peabody novels of Elizabeth Peters, and some time ago I tipped her as the most likely woman to reach the Grand Final. Today she gave us the life and German films of Fritz Lang. I may be mistaken, but I am fairly sure that Nancy had a perfect round of 16 questions and 16 correct answers. So she passed the first hurdle of the semi final, that of doing a second specialist subject as well as your first, with flying colours.
Second was journalist Sally Jones, who won heat 2 way back in September. She won with a strong performance on the short stories of Saki, and a decent GK performance. She too showed versatility to produce another good specialist score of 14 and no passes, this time on Billie Jean King, in a round which went some way beyond just her feats on the tennis court.
Ara Varatharaj , who came third, won Heat 5 in October, answering on the Challenger Novels of Arthur Conan Doyle. He won the heat on the back of a terrific performance in the specialist round. Alas, his latest offering, the magazine Private Eye , proved considerably more difficult, and got the better of him. He scored 5 and 8 passes.
Last to go was Nicholas Flindall. He won Heat 9, and like Ara Varatharaj before him won with an excellent score on Specialist, and a more modest score on GK. The Harry Palmer novels of Len Deighton were a happy hunting ground in the heats, but the life of Robert Maxwell proved trickier this time round. Mr. Flindall scored 10 with 3 passes/
Ara Varatharaj returned to the chair with a smile on his face, and seemingly none too daunted by the task ahead of him. John Humphrys encouraged him by telling him that he was going to do well, and by gum, that's exactly what he did. A score of 12 on GK in a semi final is no mean feat, and it meant that he finished with a highly respectable 17. He's a young chap, and with a performance like this on GK, he can return if he wants to in the future, I'm sure.
Nicholas Flindall couldn't avoid explaining that Robert Maxwell will always be the man who stole the pension money as far as the British public are concerned. He fared rather less well, and failed to catch Mr. Varatharaj, scoring 6 to finish on 16.
Sally Jones paid tribute to Billie Jean King as the lady who broke the mould, and spoke out for equal prize money . She had scored 10 on GK in her heat, and managed to match this with a good round, where she kept both her cool and her concentration. 24 left Nancy Dickmann needing 8, but we saw front runners losing it all in the final round more than once last year, and so nothing was sure yet.
Nancy Dickmann, I'm sure, must have just wanted to get on with the questions at this stage, but she looked cool and calm as she explained how Fritz Lang was the kind of monster on the set of a film that would have made Alfred Hitchcock seem like Santa Claus. Nancy had 14 last time round on GK, but things do seem to get tougher in the semis. That doesn't matter. 28 and no passes is a great semi final score. To put it into perspective, I scored exactly the same in my semi last year, which was the second highest score in any of the semi finals !
Hard lines to the other three contenders, but well done for getting this far. Congratulations , Nancy ! I can't wait to see how you do (did ) in the Grand Final !
|Nancy Dickmann||The Life and films of Fritz Lang||16 - 0||12 - 0||28 - 0|
|Sally Jones||Billie Jean King||14 - 0||10 - 3||24 - 3|
|Ara Varatharaj||Private Eye Magazine||5 - 8||12 - 2||17 - 10|
|Nicholas Flindall||Robert Maxwell||10 - 3||6 - 4||16 - 7|