When a show is off the air you forget sometimes just how much you enjoy it. What a pleasure to have Brain of Britain back again, after last week’s titanic contest between the last three champs for the title of Brain of Brains. A rather less high powered encounter this one, but not without its own tension and interest.
First up was Raphael Burrino – I do apologise if I misspell anyone’s name, but the Radio 4 website doesn’t seem to print them anymore. He was undone by his first question – which needed the answer Eggs Benedict. I did feel a little sorry for Raphael. He seemed to get a couple more nasties as the first question than others did. Yes, I know, it is all in the ear of the behearer. Kate Gardener followed. she took a couple for an early lead, but didn’t know that Wellington’s masterpiece of 1812 was Salamanca. Nor did any of the others. Andrew Newton failed on his first, a tricky little number requiring him to identify a scientific term as relating to tear gas. No bonuses for anyone there. Finally former Masterminder Tony Ruscombe Poole completed the round with a couple of answers. Then 3 of the 4 couldn't remember the name of the place where Osama Bin Laden was killed – Abbotabad, and it was left to Andrew to supply the answer. Ah, how soon we all forget.
There were slim pickings on the second round as well. I will admit that I didn’t know either well dressing, Raphael’s question, nor Yeats’ poetic muse. However I did think both the name Hafiz – given to a muslim who learns the whole of the Koran, and Giverny , where Monet painted his water lilies really weren’t that difficult, and the sort of thing you have to get right if you’re going to make a serious challenge. Rounds weren’t taking very long to complete at all. In fact I don’t believe that any of the contestants got beyond three correct answers in a row throughout the whole show. So there was plenty of time for two more rounds before the Beat the Brains interval. By the time we got there Kate who had been managing a couple in each round, either through her own or bonuses, had a slight lead with 8 points.
The Beat the Brains questions were a) The Fifth Column was a term coined in the Spanish Civil War – but what were the first four columns ? The Brains knew that these were the columns of the Nationalist Army. The second question was Edmund Burke coined the phrase – The Fourth Estate – but what were the first four. The Brains were close, but not close enough, not quite getting that it was the Commons, the Lords Spiritual and the Lords Temporal.
Kate picked up a single point in Round five to take herself to nine, enough to maintain a lead, while both Tony and Andrew had seven. Tony had taken a bonus by knowing that Peeping Tom’s profession was a tailor. However neither he nor any of the others knew that the storm cock is another name for the mistle thrush. In round Six we saw Andrew begin to make his run for home. A good haul of bonuses saw him raise his score to 10, while Kate remained on 9, and Tony on 7. Round Seven was a relative rarity for BoB – a round in which none of the contestants answered any of the questions correctly. No points, no bonuses, and no change in the scores. I thought that Raphael’s question about Newfoundland was the hardest, and didn’t get it. I had the rest though, having attended my cousin’s wedding in Hatfield House last Summer. So we were entering round Eight, and Russell still hadn’t announced that this would be the last round. Raphael actually top scored in this round, picking up 2 to take him to 8. Kate remained on 9, while both Tony and Andrew picked up a point.
So , entering another relatively rarity for BoB – a round Nine – the fact was that anybody could win.It wouldn’t even require a full set either , and to be perfectly honest it looked highly unlikely that this was going to happen in this show. No disrespect intended towards the contestants, who did their best, but none of them had shown the kind of all round knowledge, and , lets be honest, luck that you need for a full set on BoB. Raphael added another 2 to his score, and Andrew another 1 which was enough to give him a win by two points. Off the point entirely I was pleased with myself from remembering Iskra ( the spark ) from A Level history. So well done, Andrew Newton, first of this year’s semi finalists. A glance back over records from the last couple of years suggests that Raphael, runner up on 10 is unlikely to make the semis in a high scoring runner up slot. Welcome back BoB !
Raphael Burrino – 10
Kate Gardener – 9
Andrew Newton – 12
Tony Ruscombe Poole – 10