Right, I have a confession to make. I had insider knowledge about this particular heat. Not about the others, I hasten to add, but in this case it was recorded on the same day as the final of Champion of Champions. Immediately after this heat I had the chance to have a chat with Diane Hallagan – first of last night’s contenders – and so I already knew quite a bit about what happened in this show. Diane was answering on The Brandon Family Novels of Peter Tinniswood. Peter Tinniswood was responsible for one of my favourite observations – “All men are buggers for Geography “. I’m afraid that I don’t know a lot more about him than this, and so I managed to score a paltry one on this round. Diane had obviously prepared well, and her 11 was a good score, but just a few questions which were asking for names of places within the novels tripped her up. 12, though, meant she would be there or there abouts at the finish.
Martin Gamble came next , with the Life and Times of Douglas Jardine. A man, who it must be said, was never worried about being popular – that’s Douglas Jardine, and not Martin Gamble, whom I have never met, but I’m sure is a very nice chap. I doubt you could say the same for Mr. Jardine, though. I scraped a couple of answers, but Martin put on a fine performance to score 15 and no passes.
I liked the look of Lee Holmes’ subject – British Domestic Politics from 1970 to the Present Day. Glancing down the list of specialist subjects before the start of the show this looked by far my best bet for a decent score, and I was right. Sitting on the Clark sofa I managed 11. Lee, on the other hand, shaped up like a pro by racing through the first 16 questions without a mistake, and only tripping up on the last one. Still, 16 correct answers and no passes from 17 questions is an excellent return.
Orde Wingate and the Chindits, offered to us by Tom Weir, looked an altogether more formidable subject, so I was very glad that he was asked where the word chindits originated. I knew that one, but I didn’t know any of the others that he was asked. Tom had obviously done his homework, as he built his score up to 11. Only good enough for 4th place in the round, but a highly respectable score on what looked to me to be a very tricky set of questions.
I’m afraid that Tom found the next round rather heavy going, and he added another 6 to take his score to 17. Then Diane returned to the chair. Having spoken to her after the show I know that she was kicking herself for not getting sugar lumps as the answer to one of her first questions. She needn’t have felt bad about it. Diane produced a terrific GK round – not that this was unexpected – but up against it, knowing that Lee had a 4 point lead at halfway, and Martin a 3 point lead, she needed to set the target as high as she possibly good. 17 was a fine score , and set the target at 29. Incidentally this also meant that even if one of the others beat her score, Diane would still make it through to the semis anyway.
Martin’s round highlighted what has been an interesting factor in this year’s competition. I’m not saying that contenders didn’t run out of steam in 2 minute rounds, but the effect of it is far more pronounced in a 2 and a half minute round, as I see it. Martin started well, but a couple of wrong answers came and you could see the confidence literally seeping away as he struggled for the rest of the round. In the end 11 gave him a score of 26 , which is a good score, but some way adrift of Diane’s. So by this stage she at least was guaranteed a semi final slot.
It remained for Lee to make sure that he bagged a semi final place as well. His round wasn’t as impressive as Diane’s , but it had a certain momentum of its own. Although he got some wrong as he went along, he kept his mind on the task, kept answering correctly when he could, and by the buzzer he was equal to Diane – although behind on passes. A correct answer on the last question brought him 14 points, enough for 30 , and the win. Well done sir !
As for Diane, well, speaking to her after the show, she didn’t know that she was through to the semis. I don’t know if there were any more shows in the heats to film – they don’t necessarily show them in the same order in which they are recorded. She was a little pessimistic about her chances, having spoken to Nick Mills a little earlier the same day, and hearing that he had come runner up with 34. Well, as we’ve seen, Nick’s runner-up score was exceptional. I couldn’t say anything in the last couple of weeks, but its been obvious for a couple of shows that Diane was going to make it. So well done ! I’m looking forward to the semis.
|Diane Hallagan||The Brandon Family Novels of Peter Tinniswood||12 - 2||17 - 4||29 - 4|
|Martin Gamble||The Life and Times of Douglas Jardine||15 - 0||11 - 2||26 - 2|
|Lee Holmes||British Domestic Politics 1970 – present day||16 - 0||14 - 5||30 - 5|
|Tom Weir||Orde Wingate and the Chindits||11 - 3||6 - 6||17 - 9|
Highest Scoring Runners Up
Nick Mills – 34 – 4
Hamish Cameron – 30 – 2
Anne Skillen - 30 -7
James Collenette - 29 – 2
Diane Hallagan – 29 - 4
Philip Evans – 28 – 1