Not that this is intended to take anything away from tonight’s other three contenders, the first of whom, Ann Skillen, was answering questions on the TV series To The Manor Born. Isn’t it funny how some sitcoms retain their popularity through the years, and even decades in some cases, while others seem to fade gently from the public’s collective memory. To the Manor Born was hugely popular when it was shown in the early 80s and earned massive audiences, but somehow it doesn’t seem to have held its place in the public’s affection in the same way as, say, The Good Life. Personally I thought that it had its moments, but frankly the show took the Margot Leadbetter character from The Good Life, and made her posher, bitchier and less funny, but then that’s just my opinion and as always . . . Whatever the merits of the show, there’s no doubting the merits of Ann Skillen’s performance, with a perfect round of 17 from 17. Superb quizzing.
It can be very daunting having to follow a round like that , but that’s exactly what Rob Cruise had to do. Rob was answering on a subject very much to my liking, the Life and Career of Lance Armstrong. For Champ of champs, my original choice for final subject would have been the Tour de France, but Laura put me off it since someone was doing something similar in the regular series, and I guess that Rob was the one. He didn’t manage a perfect round, but to be fair he was 10 questions in before he dropped any answers. By the end of the round he’d scored 14, and what do we always say ? Anything in the mid teens is a good score on specialist.
Paul Norwood looked confident and purposeful as he began his round on Napoleon’s Marshals. As well he might. Its not a subject that I can say that I’m particularly familiar with, but Paul’s confidence seemed to carry him through the round very well. He was so enthusiastic that at one point he tried to answer the question before John had finished asking it. Its always a temptation, but not to be advised. Still a great round brought him 16 points and no passes, and left him very much in the hunt going into the GK round.
Paul Steeples followed, answering on the Life and Works of Charles Ives. For some reason this made me think of a minor character from Porridge, but this was not ‘orrible Ives, but rather Charles Ives the American composer. Now, going on his exploits in Brain of Britain it seemed a fair bet that Paul would be the strongest performer on GK, but he couldn’t afford to give anyone more than a couple of points head start to be on the safe side. Paul’s posture on the chair betrayed some nerves, but there was nothing nervous about the cool and confident way that he dealt with the questions, notching up a very good 15. He did pass on the last question which was asked after the buzzer. Time would tell whether this would work against him or not.
Before that, however, Rob Cruise returned to the chair. This was a GK round which started extremely well, with Mr. Cruise shaping up very much like a quiz regular, bearing in mind the breadth and range of questions that he was answering. It tended to level out a little bit towards the second half of the round – its only an extra 30 seconds, but it does take that much extra mental stamina to maintain the rhythm throughout the round, or so it seems to me. An extra 14 points took him to 28.
My pre-match favourite, Paul Steeples, returned to the chair next. He was rather hard on himself on the few occasions he got answers wrong, grimacing and even so it seemed telling himself off under his breath. He really needn’t have done this, since this was a very good performance, a measured and steady performance which saw him score consistently throughout the whole round. His 17 , for a total of 32, set a new record for a 4 and a half minute regular series performance, albeit not as good as the performances in the final of champion of champions. Time would tell whether either of tonight’s remaining contenders could improve upon it.
It became apparent fairly early in Paul Norwood’s round that he was going to fall short of the total. Unlike the previous two contenders Paul Norwood’s quiz knowledge wasn’t enough to enable him to build his score consistently through the round. Of all the sets of GK tonight, I found that his were possibly the hardest, although I wouldn’t have said that there was a great deal in it. By the end of the round he had taken his score to 26.
So it was down to Ann Skillen. Could she become our first lady winner of this series. She could, but it would need a round of 15 and no more than 2 passes to do it. That’s equivalent to about 11 in old money, and its no picnic, either. Ann showed that she has a good general knowledge, but she was answering slowly, and not building up the head of steam she needed. A run of passes in the last 30 seconds, when she had seemingly run out of momentum put her behind the clock, and in the end she levelled out at 13 points for a total of 30. Nonetheless a good performance, which gives her a chance of the semis.
So well done, Mr. Steeples. A strong contender who I suspect will be someone to watch by the time the semis come round.
|Ann Skillen||To The Manor Born||17 – 0||13 – 7||30 – 7|
|Rob Cruise||Life and Career of Lance Armstrong||14 – 1||14 – 2||28 – 3|
|Paul Norwood||Napoleon’s Marshals||16 – 0||10 – 3||26 – 3|
|Paul Steeples||The Life and Work of Charles Ives||15 – 1||17 – 2||32 – 3|
Highest Scoring Runners Up
Ann Skillen – 30 – 7
James Collenette – 29 - 2