I was pleasantly surprised that the school allowed me to leave at 12:30 today. Call time wasn’t until 6:15, so I wasn’t too worried about making it on time, so long as we didn’t get caught up in a huge tailback where the M5 joins the M6. This had happened in 2007 when I was driving up for my semi. Then, thankfully, I was staying overnight in Manchester before the show, so that didn’t matter. Navigator for the day was my daughter Jenniffer. I’ll be honest, since I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, and understand what its all about I have actually found that I’m better on long journeys, and don’t experience the drowsiness I sometimes used to get. But at the moment I just don’t feel confident with it, and so I like to have someone accompany me on a long drive. We arrived in Manchester in plenty of time to go to Asda and stock up on supplies and cheap petrol for the return journey before reporting to the studios.
All 4 contestants, Pat, Jesse, Gavin and David were there already. It was lovely to catch up with all of them, but we didn’t have a great amount of time to talk, as the team wanted to brief them all for the show. With the best will in the world, the best thing you can do as stand – in is to keep out of the way and enjoy the show. Which I am glad to say I did.
The Magnificent 4 – plus 1. Left to right – Me, Pat Gibson, David Edwards, Jesse Honey, Gavin Fuller
We were a little late going into the studio. The Champion of Champions show was being recorded at the end of a day of recordings of regular Mastermind. As it happened a friend was in the last heat of the day to be recorded before the final. She explained that during the recording there had been such a colossal downpour that the studio had flooded ! I kid you not ! Still, once we actually got into the studio and the recording started it went as smoothly as I can ever remember any of the shows I’ve been in. There were a couple of retakes of John Humphrys presenting the trophy, but that honestly was it.
Speaking of the trophy, I was delighted to see that this too was a Caithness glass bowl, although I was peeved to hear John Humphrys describe it as a ‘modest’ bowl. You only say that because you haven’t got one, John !
First into the chair was Gavin Fuller. Gavin, looking extremely elegant in tuxedo and bow tie, was answering on HMS Warrior. For those who don’t know, HMS Warrior was the world’s first iron clad warship, and a ship in many ways ahead of its time. Gavin proved to be right on time with his answers, setting a massive 17 as the standard to beat. Only one question prevented it from being the perfect round.
Pat followed, this time offering us Great Mathematicians, which was certainly a huge contrast to his first round topic of the Disney/Pixar films. Maybe Pat was not as sartorially refined tonight as Gavin, but there was a reason. Pat confided to me that he’d somewhat overheated in our show, and was running no risk of that happening tonight. Pat’s lovely wife confided to me before the start of the show that the Great Mathematicians had turned out to be a truly massive subject. Well, massive or not, Pat never has a bad round in any quiz, and he didn’t have a bad one in this show. His 16 and no passes put him just one point behind, with General Knowledge still to come.
So our first Magnus and Humphrys champions had laid down the gauntlet, and the second Magnus champion picked it up. In a way its ironic that David Edwards followed Pat into the chair. The last time we saw these two sharing a studio they were duking it out in the final of last year’s Are You An Egghead. David too looked very smart in a grey suit, as he announced that his specialist subject was Count Rumford. You could have easily forgiven him if he’d been daunted having to follow two rounds of the caliber of Gavin’s and Pat’s, but David is made of the right stuff, and he too made a complex subject look easy, whacking in another tremendous score of 16.
Finally we had Jesse Honey. There were many beautifully symmetrical things about this final, and to these you could add the fact that two contenders had opted for more formal attire, and two went a little more casual. Jesse this time opted for open necked shirt but no tie. That completes the comments from our fashion department. Following Jesse’s breath taking record breaking specialist round in the heats, to say there was an air of expectancy as he made his way to the chair would be a bit of an understatement. In the heat Jesse had answered on international flags. Now Jesse was answering on Westminster Cathedral. That’s the Roman Catholic Cathedral, and not the more famous Westminster Abbey. In the 2010 regular series Grand Final Jesse scored 18 on Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. He came close to equaling that, but leveled out at 17 and 1 pass. We’ll come back to that.
During the interval John Humphrys paid tribute to a first round the like of which we’ve certainly not seen during his own tenure, and possibly never before either. The aggregate score of 66 would take some beating. Just as importantly, only one point separated the 4 champions. It literally was anybody’s game, and that’s the way it should be.
Pat returned to the chair first. Now, unlike the heats, in the final we were playing by the new rules, which give contenders 2 and a half minutes on General Knowledge. With great concentration, Pat went on to demolish his set of GK questions, scoring a massively impressive 20, to set the bar at 36 and no passes. It was a stunning round, with questions coming from all angles, and Pat just sending them straight back where they came from. Stunning to watch. Beat that. Well , with three of the contenders on no passes going into the round, a tie break was certainly not out of the question.
Well, they all tried. David returned to the chair, and I’m not sure that there was a huge amount of sympathy in John Humphhrys’ comment – yes, you may very well wince ! David didn’t make his own job any easier by missing the first question, but he got into a hell of a good run after that. He got slightly bogged down in the mid 20s, but then picked up speed again with a tremendous run towards the end of the round. By the time the buzzer went he had added a symmetrical 16 to take his score to 32.
Gavin next returned to the chair. If he could equal Pat’s 20, then he would go into outright lead. If he scored 19, then he and Pat would be tied, with only Jesse to go. Even in a 2 and a half minute round 19 is a fearsome target to have to contemplate.Gavin was going great guns until the score reached 25, then a couple of passes pulled him up slightly in his tracks. He rallied on what I felt was the set of GK questions I would least like to have been given myself, to add 15 to his score.
So it all rested with Jesse. I know that many people have seen this final as a shootout between Pat and Jesse. This is very unfair to both David and Gavin, either of whom might have won the series and become a worthy champion of champions. Still, only Jesse stood between Pat and the title now. Jesse too needed 20 points for an outright win. Lets come back to that pass. Jesse was in exactly the same position I had been in in the heat. I had outscored Pat by one point on specialist. However I had accrued a pass in doing so. That meant I had to equal Pat’s GK score. So it was for Jesse. He had to equal Pat’s GK score - 19 would mean a pass countback – and we already knew that Pat had none. 150 seconds later we knew. Jesse produced yet another amazing, stupendous, barnstorming GK round, almost, but not quite as good as Pat’s. He scored 19, and as he already had a pass going into the last round, that meant that there was only one winner, the great Pat Gibson.
On a personal note, I would have loved to have played in the final as well, but it was a privilege to be able to watch it live with the audience. I spoke to Jon Kelly, the producer, after the show, and he said how proud he is of this show, being the most remarkable Mastermind show he has ever been associated with. You won’t catch me disagreeing with that, Jon. Loved playing in the series, loved watching the series.
|Gavin Fuller||HMS Warrior||17 – 0||15 – 2||32 – 2|
|Pat Gibson||Great Mathematicians||16 – 0||20 – 0||36 - 0|
|David Edwards||Count Rumford||16 – 0||16 – 0||32 - 0|
|Jesse Honey||Westminster Cathedral||17 – 1||19 – 1||36 – 2|