I couldn’t help noticing a review of the grand Final of Brain of Britain in The Independent today. Provocatively entitled “Why Can’t the Brain of Britain be a woman ? “, Jane Thynne’s article made my hackles rise a bit this morning.
I’m not annoyed that it asked the question. Actually, it’s a fair question to ask, since the last woman to be Brain of Britain was the great Daphne Fowler, back in 1997. One suspects that we are overdue a woman champion, in the same way that we were overdue a woman Mastermind champion until Nancy won last year’s series. Its not a question of if we will have another woman champion, merely a question of when.
No, as I say, it wasn’t the question being asked that brought a frown to the Clark brow as I read the article. What I didn’t like was the swingeing criticism of the show, for its lack of ‘cool’ before the writer said that she actually loved the show. Probably for exactly the same things she was criticising. I have to say, if she really does think it is a ‘glorious quiz’ as she claims, why on earth does she feel the need to slag it off to the extent that she did before this bombshell.
The article ended with frankly a rather strange comment about the champion Ian Bayley. To quote,
“Dr Bayley, it turns out, is a champion quizzer, who plays for Britain and has been on the final of Mastermind. I know this is great and we must honour national excellence wherever we find it, but somehow, in some small way, I couldn't help feeling weirdly cheated.”
'Weirdly' is an understatement. Who the hell does she think she is ? How on earth can you be cheated by the best performer in the whole series putting on a virtuoso display to win the final by a street ? Did she honestly expect that the winner of the Grand Final would turn out to be someone who has no background in quizzing whatsoever ? If Jane Thynne really is such a fan of BoB, then how does she not know that in the last few years the finals have been won by - Geoff Thomas ( Mastermind champion 2006) – Mark Bytheway ( world champion ) – Pat Gibson ( Mastermind champion 2005 etc. ) – Chris Hughes ( mastermind champion 1983, Eggheads etc. ) and so on. Why on earth did she feel that this series was any more likely to be won by a plucky underdog ? One of the great strengths of BoB is the quality of the competitors. If you’re really a fan, then you’d know this.
Once you reach a certain level of achievement in quizzing, then you have to accept that your chances of getting on to a quiz show where there are serious cash prizes, for example, are going to be extremely slim. But to have a supposedly serious journalist posting rubbish like this, where the subtext is that its somehow cheating the public by allowing serious quizzers to take part in a serious show like BoB is beyond the pale.