The final semi final of Brain of Britain saw the return of my friend Rob Merrill. I can vouch that he’s a great quizzer, but would even that be enough to overcome the curse of the Clark sofa ? In about half an hour, we’d all know. The full line up was –
Ian Banks – Ian had been runner up in his heat with a score of 12.
Roman Dubowski – Roman had one of the highest scores in the whole of the first round, when he won the BoB equivalent of this year’s Group of Death. On paper something of a favourite.
Robert Merrill – Rob sounded good winning his heat with 19.
Andrew Newton – Andrew was one of the youngest BoB semi finalists. he had won his own heat with 12.
Ian was tripped up by a question about pound cake. Its name comes from the traditional recipe which called for equal amounts – pounds of several ingredients. Roman kicked off with an good answer, but then fell down on solar wind. Rob knew that the answer was blowing in the same , and kicked off with a bonus. 2 of his own followed, but he didn’t know that Joseph Paxton had earned his spurs designing greenhouses for Chatsworth . Roman had that. Roman also had a bonus on Andrew’s second question , when he knew that Van Gogh had briefly been a teacher in England in the 1870s.
Round 2 is very early for a key moment in the quiz, but that’s exactly what we had. Ian didn’t know that Queen Margaret University is in Edinburgh – Roman did. Nobody knew about a term referring to freckles for Roman’s first. It’s funny, but I thought that freckles were lentignes. Rob took a great set of five. I would have had his first four, but I didn’t know that York Minster has its own protective police force. That 6 point boost put Rob into the driving seat, and gave the others something to think about. Nobody knew Andrew’s first, that molecule literally translates as small mass. So after the quiet opening of round one, Rob now had a serious lead with 9 points to Roman’s 5.
Ian didn’t know that it was rubber that Brits cultivated in India and Malaysia. Rob took a bonus. Roman took his first, but guessed that Vassari was talking about Michaelangelo when he was in fact talking about one of the other Ninja Turtles – Leonardo. Andrew took a bonus there. Robert couldn’t capitalise, not knowing that it was the Toltecs who introduced the worship of Quetzalcoatl to Mexico. The Mayans’ feathered serpent god was Kulkulcan, or something like that, I thought. Nobody knew Andrew’s question, about a term relating to pregnancy. Rather surprisingly nobody chanced their arm with the answer nirvana to the question about which Buddhist and Hindu term comes from the Sanskrit for blown out or extinguished. Roman handed Rob a bonus when he failed to answer that it was The Overlanders who had a UK number 1 with Michelle. Rob didn’t know the term kursaal – neither did I, but Ian took a good bonus there. Andrew failed on a gettable question about the R101, and Rob was in for another bonus. At the Beat the Brains interval Rob had 12, and looked halfway home.
Two Beat the Brains questions about the US Civil War followed. The brains knew the first, that the Pinkerton agency supplied information to the Federal government, but they didn’t know that the Springfield armaments factory created the assembly line.
Back to the serious business of the show, and Roman took a bonus from Ian’s first, knowing that Kenneth Macmillan choreographed a number of ballets including Romeo and Juliet. He then took two of his own to make life interesting for Rob, before he failed on diaphoresis. Nobody knew that this refers to sweating. Rob didn’t know that the condition myxoedema refers to a failure of the thyroid gland- another Bonus for Roman. In fact Roman took a clean sweep of bonuses. Andrew took his first two , but it was Roman who recognised a snatch of Das Rheingold which accompanied the Gods’ entry to Valhalla.
The gap down to three points, neither of the leaders managed a bonus on Ian’s first question – which letter is used to refer to Planck’s Constant. Andrew knew it was h. Roman took his first two, but failed on popular culture. I bet it was a real race for the buzzer when he failed to name Homer Simpson’s tipple of choice, and the race was won by Rob. Who went on to take his own first two, but didn’t know one about W.H. Auden. So Roman took it. I was so excited I lost track of what happened on Andrew’s go, but like Planck, Rob’s lead was holding constant.
In round 7 nobody knew Ian’s first , that the organ stop called clarabella produces the sound of a flute. Roman dropped the gettable oktar for his first – Rob knew that it refers to cloud cover. He took his own first, but nobody knew his second – that Andrew Timothy was the announcer for later series of the Goon Show. If you say so. Andrew was tripped up by the Salisbury Doctrine – nobody quite knew that it is the convention that Lords will not hold up the progress of legislation that has been promised in a government manifesto. With Rob up to 18, Roman needed a full set and a bit of luck. Ian had none of this commodity himself, being asked which firm have a royal warrant to supply corsets to the Queen. Nobody knew Rigby and Peller – although more than a titter was raised by Andrew’s suggestion of Ann Summers. Roman took two, but nobody knew that when a doctor writes PRN on a prescription it means take when required. Rob now just required to see out the match.He took his first, but failed on the Emperor Frederick III, father of Kaiser Bill. He had the last word though, when Andrew failed to answer that a Barbary ape is a macaque.
Well done Rob ! South Wales – and the Aberavon Rugby Club Thursday night gang are very proud of you . A fine performance, in which you had looked like a winner throughout, shattering the curse on the way.
Ian Banks 4
Roman Dubowski 16
Robert Merrill 20
Andrew Newton 7
Semi Final scores
Ray Ward – 13
Ian Clark – 13 ( tie break )
Rob Milnes – 20
Robert Merrill - 20