The first of tonight’s champions was Richard Sturch.
Richard was crowned champion in 1996. His subjects then were Charles Williams, Frederick III, German Emperor, and for the final, the Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Tonight he opted for a new subject in the shape of Michael of Romania.
I enjoyed Richard’s piece to camera very much. He explained that he had entered primarily to counter the way that television had a way of portraying clergymen as rather amiable fatheads. He also explained how he had played in a heat of no less than 4 clergymen, which was originally meant to be shown on Easter Sunday, although for some reason it didn’t go out then. So that confirms that even back in Magnus’ day the schedulers would play silly buggers with the show when they felt like it.
Despite picking a totally new subject for the show, Richard put on a fine performance to lay down the gauntlet with a very impressive 15 and 1 pass.
Second to go was Andy Page.
Andy holds the enviable distinction of being the first ever Humphrys era champion, from 2003. His subjects were Academy Awards, ironically Gilbert and Sullivan as well, and Golf Majors for the final, which is probably as diverse a set of three subjects as you are likely to find. Tonight Andy followed what seems to be a pretty universal policy of the Humphrys champions, by opting for a completely new subject in the shape of the TV series Arrested Development.
Again, I really enjoyed his chat to camera. He explained watching the show as a child, something I can totally relate to. Winning the show was the fulfillment of a long held ambition, and again this is something which really strikes a chord with me too.
Alas, this heat was filmed immediately before my show, and I only saw Andy briefly in the corridor as they were going out and we were coming in, so was only able to shake the hand of an internet friend I’d never yet met in the flesh. I didn’t have my camera with me, so no picture of Andy, or David for that matter. Guys, I sincerely apologise.
Andy, frankly, went like the clappers on his round, getting through a highly impressive number of questions, of which he too achieved 15 correct answers.
The next champion was Nancy Dickmann.
Where do I start talking about the distinctions of my friend and successor , 2008 champion Nancy ? First and so far only lady champion of the Humphrys era. Nancy is settled in the UK, but she is originally from the States, and so to this extent our first ever overseas champion. In 2008 Nancy’s subjects were the Amelia Peabody novels of Elizabeth Peters, the Life and Films of Fritz Lang, and for the final, the Lewis and Clark Expedition. True to expectation, as a Humphrys champion, Nancy chose a new subject tonight, the Life of Roald Amundsen.
Nancy hit the nail on the head in her filmed insert when she said that its not easy to win Mastermind. I was interested to watch Poet Laureate Andrew Motion present the trophy. Shall I let you into a secret ? It should have been me to present the trophy, but I had to decline the chance. It was a special day at school , well in one way every day at school is special, and the special project I was doing with the new Year 7 pupils couldn’t be done by anyone else at short notice. Still, how many people can say that the Poet Laureate has been their stand in ? I digress.
When you watch these shows you are reminded just how good these champions were. Nancy fairly snapped out her answers with hardly the slightest hesitation during the whole round, and some of these seemed very long questions too. 16 and no passes put Nancy into the lead.
Last but not least of these champions was the 1990 champion, David Edwards.
I’ve known David for a couple of years now, and the most honest thing I can say about him is he is just as brilliant, charming, humble and nice as he manages to project on the telly. He’s a great guy. In 1990 David’s subjects were Michael Faraday, Benjamin Thompson, and James Clark Maxwell. David exercised the option of taking a brand new subject, and what a subject it was, none other than the mystery of Rennes le Chateau. As a reader of Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, the Tomb of God, Foucault’s Pendulum ad many others, I thought that this was a great subject to choose.
In his filmed insert David modestly described his win on Millionaire as just a big one. BBC rather spoiled this by actually showing the clip of him winning, and the word Millionaire being flashed in bold underneath ! David described the challenges of Mastermind and Millionaire as being very different. You never said a truer word as far as I’m concerned, David.
This was one of those subjects which was full of interest, but as a specialist subject should only ever be approached with caution. David threw caution to the winds, and only dropped two points on the way to equalling Nancy’s score with 16 and no passes.
So the contest was beautifully balanced moving towards the GK rounds, with only 1 point separating 4 champions. First back to the chair was Richard Sturch. He got off to a cracking start. And put on a very good display, only really being undone by popular culture and sport questions. Still 11 points on GK is absolutely never to be sniffed at, and he was still in with a chance of winning. Not by the time that Andy’s round had finished, though. Andy ripped through his round like an express train. He didn’t know all of the answers, but he didn’t waste ay time worrying about those he didn’t. By the end of the round he had raised the bar to 27.
Nancy , then, needed 11 and less than 8 passes to take the lead. She’d never scored less than this during her championship series. She too, like Andy, raced through the round, dropping a couple, but picking out those that were there to be got. By the end she’d scored 11. Like Andy, this meant a total of 27, but only 2 passes put her on top of the podium. Only David could possibly relegate her now.
It was always going to be close. David stumbled for a moment before passing his first question, and then too , like those who had gone before, started finding answers at breakneck speed. He had to, since the target was not an easy one. John began the last question just as the buzzer sounded. At this stage David had 11 and 2 passes, and a tie break would be the result if he could not find a correct answer. He could and he did, and claimed the third spot in the final, which now has a line up of 2 Magnus and one Humphrys champion so far.
That was a great contest- very well played to all of you.
As for tomorrow’s show, well the review will be a little different because, well, I’m in it.
|Richard Sturch||Michael of Romania||15 – 1||11 - 5||26 – 6|
|Andy Page||The TV Series Arrested Development||15 – 5||12- 3||27 - 8|
|Nancy Dickmann||The Life and Career of Roald Amundsen||16 – 0||11- 2||27 - 2|
|David Edwards||The Mystery of Rennes le Chateau||16 – 0||12 – 2||28 – 2|