Right, it’s been a busy week again. So let’s get straight down to business with Brain of Britain. Once again, I have to apologise if I have misheard or misspelled any of the contestants' names – as I think I said last week the website doesn’t seem to publish the names any more. Oh well. Anyway, as I heard it , we had Drew Baxter – Ian Clark ( apologies if you are a Clarke, Ian ), Harriet Kay and Austin McQuade.
Drew didn’t know what a sadhu was for his first question, and so Austin took first blood by supplying the answer of a holy man for a bonus. Ian took his first two questions well – he knew J.B. Priestley’s “English Journey” which I thought was a great answer. He didn’t know the English pop artist Richard Hamilton, but nobody else did either. Harriet missed a little bit of a sitter with the Rump Parliament – oh alright , you’ve got to forgive me the odd pun now and again – please yourselves. Ian took a bonus, and followed this up with a bonus on Austin’s first question, knowing that the sequel to R.L. Stevenson’s “Kidnapped” is “ Katriona” . A very pleasing start for Ian, who led with 4 to Austin’s 1. This lead increased in the second round. Drew took his first point, but lost out on Kilimanjaro, which fell to Ian. He followed up with three of his own, and these were by no means gimmes either, but couldn’t quite bring to mind the pericardium. Austin could. Harriet again missed on a rather gentle question about the man whom the currency of Venezuela and other countries was named after. Austin made no mistake, with Simon Bolivar. He took one of his own, but failed on tyrranulet. Ian took the bonus, knowing it to be a South American bird. After 2 Ian already had a good score with 9, and Austin had 4.
On with round three. Drew missed out on his first, asking in which century Beowulf was written. This gave Harriet her first point, on a bonus, knowing that we were talking about the 8th century. Ian showed a chink in his armour for the first time in the contest, with a difficult question about the christian festival of Corpus Christi. Harriet missed her own first question about the formerly german name of Ljubljana – Ian inevitably took the bonus here. Austin provided us with the best performance in this round, with a good set of two, but it was Ian who knew that Ben E King sang Stand By Me for the bonus. It was fairly obvious now that Ian and Austin were dominating the contest, and I’m afraid that it was not too early to discount Harriet and Drew’s challenge. I mean no disrespect, but the two had missed questions which suggested that they were unlikely to be able to stage the kind of late surge it would need to get onto terms with the others. Taking us towards the Beat the Brains Interval Drew got an unhelpful question to start. Nobody knew that Tasmania is one of the world’s greatest sources of tin. Ian took his first , but nobody could remember that one of the titles given to Prince William on the occasion of his marriage was the Earldom of Strathearn. Harriet couldn’t bring to mind Julian Huxley – neither could anyone else. Finally Austin took three , but a great bonus fell to Ian who remembered the term epiphyte. The scores at the break were 1 each to Drew and Harriet – 9 to Austin and 13 to Ian.
A lovely little pair came up in the Beat the Brains interval. The first – what is a baldrick was predictably dispatched to the boundary, but the brains were yorked middle stump with the second – Captain William Blackadder was implicated in whose infamous murder ? The answer being Darnley’s. Back to the contest. In round five nobody managed to answer their first question. Both Ian and Austin took two bonuses though. Ian’s 15 was already looking good enough to get him a repechage slot for the semis – and we still had 3 rounds to go. I did feel a little sorry for Drew. Of the 4, I felt that he had the hardest luck with the first questions. After all, nobody could answer two definitions he was given in a row at the start of rounds 6 and 7. Round six he was given an Ambrose Bierce definition of a lawsuit, and round 7 a description of the BBC. Ian finally achieved escape velocity , though, with a good three correct answers on the bounce, tripping up on aluminium being added to soil to turn hydrangeas blue amongst other reasons. ( Well, it was something like that. ) Harriet didn’t know the old chestnut about Barbara Castle’s “In Place of Strife “ , but Austin did. If he was going to win, then a five pointer would help a lot, but he only managed the one, none of the contestants recognizing the tones of Juliet Greco.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t answer many that Ian couldn’t , but I did know the album cover of Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure, which tripped him up after 2 questions in Round 7. Harriet took another point, but didn’t know that Joshua Reynolds was the first president of the Royal Academy. I suspect that it was a race to the buzzer for a bonus here. I can’t see either Ian or Austin having missed out on a sitter like that. Ian won the race, anyway. Nobody knew the answer to Austin’s question, that the type of memory on memory sticks and the like is Flash memory. Going into round 8 Ian was practically home and dry with 21 – pretty much guaranteed a semi final slot even if Austin, on 13, had a nine point round. As it was, only Harriet and Austin managed to answer their first questions in the last round, and for the only time Ian failed to add to his score. Well, to be fair his work was already done.
The final scores saw Ian a comfortable winner with 21. Well done sir ! Well done as well on answering some frankly very hard questions. I hope that I’m not cursing your chances when I suggest that you are definitely one to watch for the semis. Well played too Austin. 14 gives him a definite shot at the semis- he’s heading the repechage board at the moment.
Drew Baxter – 2
Ian Clark – 21
Harriet Kay – 3
Austin McQuade - 14