Friday, 29 May 2009

Mastermind Semi Final 4/6

Wonders will never cease. The BBC has allowed Mastermind to be shown in two consecutive weeks - AND Life After Mastermind reader James Corcoran informs me that he has been given next Friday as a definite date for his semi final to be broadcast. Have the schedulers finally taken pity on poor fans of the show ? Or is it just that they can't be arsed to go looking for something else ?

Lets get down to the nitty gritty of tonight's show, then. Frank Minns started us off. He won heat 23 in April, offering Italian Politics. Tonight it was the Life and works of Mozart. I think that he was possibly expecting more on the works and less on the life, and didn't reach the heights of his first round performance, this time scoring 8.

By way of contrast, Jenny Dunn we haven't seen since the very first heat, back on 5th September 2008, when she scored 13 points on King Edward IV. Her round on The Ghost Stories of M.R.James didn't quite manage to get into the teens, but you had the feeling that this was the kind of contest where her 10 would give her a fighting chance.

Gary Grant, this time answering questions on the Solar System, had won heat 22 on the life and career of Sir Jackie Stewart, in March. Then he scored 14, tonight he did almost as well, scoring 13. His speed of answer was highly impressive, and by the halfway stage he looked the most likely winner of the 4 contenders.

Roger Canwell I tipped as a potential finalist as long ago as the end of September when he won heat 4. He looked extremely useful answering on The Late Stuart Age then. Now only slightly less effective, a very good start to the round being let down a little by a couple of passes. However 12 meant that he was only one point behind leader Gary Grant.

Poor Frank Minns. Obviously John Humphrys doesn't think much about Mozart, since he ignored the subject completely in the inter round chat, and instead gave Mr. Minns the 3rd degree about people paving over their front gardens. Mr. Minns is a landscape gardener, you see. Mr. Minns had the joint highest GK score in the first round heats, but this particular set of questions seemed tough to me, and didn't do him any favours at all. Bearing this in mind 9 was a good score.

Jenny Dunn explained that a good ghost story should be creepy without being too graphic. Can't say that I've read any M.R.James myself, so I'll move swiftly on to her GK round. Its all subjective, but given the choice I would have rather had a go at Jenny Dunn's questions than Frank Minns, but she put on a good performance of 9, which was only one less than she'd managed in her first round heat. So she pushed the bar up to 19.

Roger Canwell paid the expected tribute to Delia Smith - and why not ? - and explained a little about how tough it is for teams outside the premiership. Like the two previous contenders he pushed towards double figures, but ran out of time before quite managing to get there. Compared with the last few semi finals we've seen, 21 looked like a modest target. However, as I have said before on many occasions, anything can happen in the semi finals.

Gary Grant was hailed by John Humphrys as the 'man with the knowledge of the solar system '. Interestingly, he himself has gone on record as saying that he never expected to get to the semis, or he'd never have chosen that as a subject ! He started off like an express train, but, as he himself has said, he fell into a horrible pass spiral, and just couldn't pull himself out of it. Don't worry Gary. Everyone who saw your performance in the first round knows that you are much better than this - it was just a shame that you had a bad day at the office. He finished on 19.

So Roger Canwell marches on to the Grand Final. On this performance, and bearing in mind the strength of the other 3 qualifiers we've seen so far, you'd have to say he's something of an outsider, but semi final form is not always a good guide to what is going to happen in the final.

The Details
Frank Minns The Life and Works of Mozart 8 - 5 9 - 4 17 - 9
Jenny Dunn The Ghost Stories of M.R.James 10 - 3 9 - 7 19 - 10
Gary Grant The Solar System 13 - 2 6 - 7 19 - 9
Roger Canwell Norwich City Football Club 12 - 2 9 - 3 21 - 5

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