Saturday, 29 January 2011

Mastermind - First Round Heat 20

Last night’s show was highly watchable, if for no other reason than the fact that it proved that Gypsy Rose Clark’s crystal ball is on the blink again. Allow me to elucidate.

First to go was Martin Short – no, not the little feller from The Three Amigos. He had what I would say was the most esoteric subject of the show, in the shape of The Witches of Pendle. If I may be allowed a small digression, it immediately put me in mind of something the late great Magnus wrote in “I’ve Started So I’ll Finish”, his history of the first 25 years of the show. He recalled the appearance of Dr. Reginald Webster, an eminent scholar and former Brain of Britain, in one of the very earliest series, who answered on ‘Witchcraft’. What transpired was that the question setter apparently knew a lot less about his subject than Dr. Webster did, and what resulted was a round in which practically every other question was challenged by Dr. Webster – who won the heat and advanced, taking a different subject. So witches as a subject have a rather chequered history in the show. I can’t answer how difficult or fair these questions were, since alone of all of tonight’s subjects I didn’t manage to answer any of them, but Martin scored 8.

Right – here comes the prediction. At this stage I turned to Jess and said – well, he won’t be back in the semis.

Next up was a subject much more to my liking, as Matthew Cheadle offered us the England Football team in the World Cup, beloved of masochists throughout the land. I didn’t do as well as Matthew, who scored a good 11, although at one stage he looked set for an even higher score before becoming a little bogged down as the round progressed. Still, I got 8, which I was pretty pleased with. I knew that the linesman and ref who didn’t give the Lampard goal in last summer’s fiasco were Uruguayan, for example. Still, at this stage I made the confident prediction that 11, although good, would not give Matthew the lead after round one.

Peter Cookson’s subject , the Life and Music of Gary Numan, was less to my liking, although I did manage a couple of correct answers. I was in my mid teens when Tubeways Army topped the charts with “Are Friends Electric ? “ and then Gary had his solo hits, but I have to say that he and his music were never for me. Sorry Gary. Peter seemed very nervous. I don’t know whether the questions just concentrated on areas of the subject he had given less thought and preparation to, or whether he just had a ‘mare in the chair, but the round didn’t go well. He scored 6.

Second World War subjects have cropped up regularly throughout the history of the show – indeed in the final of the 2007 SOBM I remember the other David, David Down taking the Normandy Landings and scoring a fantastic 16 on it. Our last contender, Glen Entwhistle, was answering on Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia during World War II. I had a couple, but got nowhere near the 9 Glen scored, which to my limited knowledge of the subject looked like a pretty good score on some very difficult questions.

So, at the end of the round, we had so far only seen one score in double figures. Despite my prediction, Martin Short wasn’t out of it, only 3 behind on 8. The smart money still said that Matthew or Glen were more likely to do it, but one thing looked certain. The four of them were all out of contention for a highest scoring runners up spot, so nothing less than winning the show would do.

Peter Cookson returned, and to be honest he still seemed rather shell shocked after his first round. He managed to add 7 to take his score up to 13. OK, not great, but there you go, it happens. Its only a game. ( I can’t believe I just said that ) . Martin came next, and he did considerably better. In a 2 minute round 12 is a pretty good score. Even in a 2 and a half minute round it’s a decent effort, and although his score of 20 was lower than any winning score we have so far had in this series, the fact was that he was still in with a shout. Especially after Glen Entwhistle struggled his way to 6 for a total of 15. So only Matthew Cheadle remained to bar Martin’s passage into the semis. The total required , 9 and 2 passes or less didn’t look that difficult, but then it had been a nervy, edgy show throughout, and you had the feeling that maybe this wasn’t all over yet. As indeed it wasn’t. Matthew picked off a couple, but then either nerves, or brain freeze, or an unlucky run of questions that he just couldn’t answer kicked in, and he managed only 4, to take joint second place, and leave Martin, whom I had confidently predicted could kiss goodbye to his chances after the first round, with a comfortable 5 point win.

Well, one of the programme’s delights is its capacity to surprise us, and this show certainly lived up to that. Thanks for playing guys anyway. Not the most impressive performances we’ve ever seen, but if we didn’t have contenders willing to give it a go, then we wouldn’t have a show.

Congratulations to Hamish Cameron as well, who is now guaranteed a repechage slot in the semi finals.

The Details

Martin Short Witches of Pendle8 - 212 - 120 - 3
Matthew CheadleThe England Football Team in the World Cup11 – 0 4 - 415 - 4
Peter CooksonLife and Music of Gary Numan6 - 57 - 513 - 10
Glen EntwhistleOperation Barbarossa9 - 26 - 415 - 6

Current Highest Scoring Runners-Up

Nick Mills – 34 – 4
Hamish Cameron – 30 – 2
Anne Skillen - 30 -7
James Collenette - 29 – 2
Philip Evans – 28 - 1
Duncan Byrne – 27 – 2


Des Elmes said...

It's incredibly rare that 20 is a winning score - and the chances of this in a match where the GK rounds are 150 seconds long must be less than they are in a traditional match.

Purely out of curiosity, is this the lowest winning score in the Humphrys Era? If not, then it's certainly very close.

The match aggregate of 63 must be almost a record low for this era too.

Londinius said...

Hi Des

Leaving aside the fact that this was achieved in 4 1/2 minutes, rather than 4, its not the lowest winning score of the Humprhys era. Matthew Williamson who came second in my 2007 semi final had won his heat with 19. That was the lowest of the 2007 SOBM - I don't say that its the lowest winning score of the whole Humphrys era, though.