First up was Jay Rayner. Most people probably know him from semi regular appearences on The One Show. He’s a journalist and food critic – and one thing I didn’t know before checking out his brief biog on Wikipedia is that he is also the son of the late Claire Rayner. Jay’s specialist subject was Steven Sondheim. Like him I couldn’t remember Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd , but I did manage another five answers. Jay did a lot better than that. His 9 and 2 passes might be an ordinary score in a 2 minute round, but it’s competitive in a 90 second one. His chosen charity was Sense.
O.J.Borg proved just how easy it is to look completely different from Princess Leia while still being dressed in a long white robe, wearing a wig with her famous ‘danish pastry on either side of the head’ hairstyle. He has presented a number of shows on radio and television. Back in 2009 Darren Bennett from Strictly Come Dancing chanced his arm with the Star Wars movies. Here O.J. limited himself just to the original trilogy – wise move – and did proportionately better. Darren’s 10 from 2 minutes was inferior to O.J.’s 10 from 90 seconds. Manchester Dogs’ Home was his nominated charity.
Before the start of the show I had Jay Rayner, and the third contender, Simon Calder, down as joint favourites. Simon Calder is the only one of tonight’s contenders I have actually met in person. Well, I say met. It was on the day that I recorded my first round heat of “Are You An Egghead ?” in 2009. I was walking into the foyer of TV Centre in White City as he was walking out, and I did that thing where you see someone you’ve seen on the telly, and you know you know them from somewhere, but not where, so you mistake them for someone you know personally. So I said “Hello, how are you ? “ and he replied very well, thank you, like the polite gent that he is, and walked on. It came to me who he was about 5 minutes later. Anyway, it can’t have done him any lasting damage, since he produced the pick of tonight’s SS rounds. Answering on the history of Concorde, he scored a very impressive 12 and 2 passes. It was my second best round with 7. He nominated Farm – Africa as his charity.
Anthony Costa, of the once popular beat combo Blue, offered us Only Fools and Horses. I think he was a little overwhelmed by the whole experience of being in the chair, and he missed a couple of little sitters. As it happened I had the rare experience of outscoring a contender on their own specialist subject – albeit only by the fact that he said Grandad was sent out to get a budgie rather than a canary. I scored 8, he scored 7 and 2 passes, for Sara’s Hope Foundation. Which meant that he had a quick return to the chair. In their chat interval John went straight for the jugular by bringing up the Eurovision Song Contest. At least he didn’t remind Anthony that Blue finished 3 places below Jedward. 2 minutes later he had added another 8 points to his total to take it to 15 , which gave him the lead for a brief period.
Jay put on a bravura performance in his own GK round – in fact it was the pick of all the rounds tonight. I was amused to see the sleb friendly question about the black cat in the Savoy restaurant, but you’re entitled to one or two of those. 15 points is a good return on any 2 minute round, and this put Jay into the lead with 24. I thought he had an even money chance of winning with that score. O.J. gave it a lash, and his score of 11 is praiseworthy, but didn’t put him very close to Jay, despite John’s words of consolation. Simon didn’t seem as secure under the highball as Jay. However he was answering quickly, and John was throwing the questions at him as fast as he could. In the end he breasted the tape with a couple of questions left over, and was the winner with 26 points.
|Jay Rayner||Steven Sondheim||9 - 2||15 - 0||24 – 2|
|O.J.Borg||The original Star Wars Trilogy||10 - 1||11 - 2||21 - 3|
|Simon Calder||The History of Concorde||12 - 2||14 - 4||26 - 6|
|Anthony Costa||Only Fools and Horses||7 -2||8 - 4||15 – 6|