John Sopel followed Jessica into the chair. John is a well known broadcast journalist – and as such was well favoured on the Clark sofa to do well. They often do in sleb MM. His subject was Tony Blair, and it proved to be my best subject of the night. After all, there were enough old chestnuts in there – what was his constituency – which band was he in at University etc. for me to get 6. Not as good as John though. He managed 10 , and what do we say ? Anything in double figures is a good score off a 90 second round. Save the Children was John’s nominated cause.
Neil Hannon, of the Divine Comedy, is the man who wrote the song National Express, which was enough for him to receive the full burden of support from the Clark sofa tonight. Neil’s subject was the TV series Frasier. Now, the last time we saw this as a specialist subject was in Gavin’s heat in Champ of Champs, where Shaun Wallace put on a fine display to score 17. Neil’s 8 wasn’t as good as Shaun’s performance – although it was a hell of a lot better than my 2. Still, it meant that he was only 2 points behind John, and the chances were that the outcome of the show would be decided by the GK. Neil’s nominated charity was the Alzheimers Society.
Before the GK though we had the specialist round of Michel Roux Jr. Now, way back in the day when I had my first ever audition for MM I asked to offer a couple of writers – especially William Makepeace Thackeray ( of whom I want to write a biography if I ever win the lottery ). I was told no, I couldn’t do it because I’m an English teacher by profession. Then later on when I read “I’ve Started So I’ll Finish” I found that it was a matter of policy in the original shows to dissuade people from taking subjects closely related to their careers to avoid any potential embarrassment due to low scores. Michel Roux might well have benefitted from such cautionary advice himself. His subject was Escoffier’s Guide . It wasn’t a great round, and he ended with 4. I had one, mind you. His chosen cause was VICTA.
Needless to say, Michel returned to the chair in fairly short order. He had a nasty visit to pass Hell at the start of the round, but managed to pull himself out of the soup, and finish with a respectable 8. I managed all of his questions. I also managed all of Jessica Hynes’. I’m sorry to carp and pick holes, but I’m afraid I really don’t like it when the slebs start to get bolshie and answer back during their GK rounds. You might remember David Threlfall did this in the last series, and it got up my nose then. I’m a bit of a purist when you get right down to it – I’d rather they just got on with answering the questions. Jessica managed 7, which at least meant that she finished 1 point higher than Michel. I can’t help thinking that if she’d just got on with it she might well have had a couple more.
It was down to Neil to set a challenging target for John, and he put in a good run of answers to finish with 14. I thought that I had all of Neil’s as well, but alas, the John Peel lectures did for me. Neil finished with 22. To put that into perspective, the lowest winning score so far this series has been Simon Day’s 23, so John Sopel was still the favourite to win. To be fair John didn’t have a bad round, but he never looked totally at ease, and never seemed quite as convincing as Neil did. He was slow starting, and although he picked up a little speed as the round went one the target was still too far away when the buzzer sounded. 11 points put him on 21, and in second place.
|Jessica Hynes||The Life and Poems of Pam Ayres||6 - 1||7 - 0||13 – 1|
|John Sopel||Tony Blair||10 -1||11 - 3||21 – 4|
|Neil Hannon||Frasier||8 - 3||14 - 3||22 – 6|
|Michel Roux Jnr.||Escoffier||4 - 3||8 -7||12 -10|