Mark Wyatt opened the batting with the Life and Works of JMW Turner. Mark has been a very strong performer on Specialist all series, scoring a perfect 18 in his heat, and 13 in the semi, which was the joint highest semi specialist of any of our finalists tonight. This wasn’t quite a perfect round, but it was a very good one for a final. 15 and 1 pass meant that he would be in contention at the halfway stage.
I said in my preview that Maya had exceeded my expectations in getting to the final, and to be fair, from her filmed insert she seemed to have exceeded her own as well. Maya scored 12 in her specialist in the semi, when she offered owls. Tonight we had a complete change of pace with her specialist subject of alchemy. It seemed to me that this was very much one of those out of left field subjects, which could go very well for you. The other side of the coin though is that it’s the kind of subject that if you don’t do really well, you end up doing the opposite. Maya made an error, and knew she made an error on her second question, and she never really recovered from it. Her 6 points scored were 6 points more than almost everybody sitting at home scored, but in real terms it meant that her bid for the title was over.
Every year one of the contenders seems to win first prize in the insert lottery. This year no less than three contenders could claim to have done this. David Love was one of them. Answering on the comic songs of Tom Lehrer, David was whisked away to Boston. I’ll be honest, I enjoyed the wee snippets of Tom Lehrer in performance which were slipped into the film, and I could have watched more of them. Still, there was still the serious business of the round to get on with. David has been a rock solid performer all series, with a fine 13 in the semi, and so his 14 in this round was no less than I expected. Second place at this stage, but handily placed nonetheless.
The first of our LAM contributors tonight came next. Nick Reed has been one of the surprise packages of this year’s series. I must admit to being a little bit taken aback by his admission in his film that he doesn’t play in organized quizzes. You certainly wouldn’t have known this from his GK performances in the heat and the semi, where he knocked out our own Gruff in a tie break. Nick has been a high scorer in specialist before. However in his film he did say that his subject The Levellers was the first subject in which he had no level of expertise to begin with. His score of 12 was nothing to be ashamed of at all, a good performance, but in terms of winning you really don’t want to be more than a couple of points behind at the halfway stage. Ideally, you don’t want to be behind at all if you can help it.
Gary Grant was a veritable vision in black. Actually that’s wrong, since due to the darkness of the background the only bits of him you could actually see clearly were his head and hands.Gary’s film showed him on the north coast of Scotland, which made him the second candidate for winner of the filmed insert lottery. I have to take my hat off to Gary for being absolutely candid and frank about how much he wanted to win. In my filmed insert in 2007 I was actually asked the question myself, and I fudged it, thinking – if I tell the truth, that I’d give my eyeteeth to win, and think I’ve at least got a pretty good chance, then if I don’t win, that film will come back to haunt me. – Ian had the guts to say he wanted to win last year, and now Gary had done the same. An omen ? Well, Gary’s subject was whales and dolphins, and he treated us to the finest specialist round we’ve seen all series. Gary goes at 100 miles an hour when he’s answering. So when he produces a perfect round, you get something remarkable. In this case a 19 point round – that’s a Hall of Fame score. A fantastic performance which in all probability blew the previous 4 contenders out of the water. Only Andy Tucker remained in the first round.
If you read my review you’ll maybe remember that Andy and Gary were my two tips for the top. Andy too seemed to have drawn a lucky ticket in the shape of a trip to Baku in Azerbaijan. Andy is a very modest chap – this is the first time I had the slightest inkling that he has been a British Ambassador – an Ambassador to Azerbaijan no less. Like Gary, Andy too made no secret of the fact that he would like to win – there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of there. I thought it was a lovely touch to pay tribute to Kevin Ashman, and particularly to the late Sir David Hunt, winner in 1977, himself a very distinguished diplomat. As for the round, well it was a good one, no doubt about that. Not quite as fast as Gary’s, though, and not as accurate as Gary’s, and in the end he score 14 and no passes. Advantage Gary.
I have to say that of all the General Knowledge rounds I struggled most with Maya’s. I thought that her 14 was a tremendous performance. Ironically it did give her the lead, albeit that this was only by a single point, but at least it had the effect of taking her to 20 points. Look – you have nothing to be ashamed of if you get to the Mastermind final in the first place, but anything in the 20s therein is totally respectable. Nick followed her into the chair, and it’s sad to say, but he had his most difficult GK round of the series. A number of his questions were what I would call old quiz chestnuts, which you wouldn’t necessarily know if you’re not a regular quizzer. This should take nothing away from what has been a fantastic series for Nick. By his own admission he is not a quizzer, and has pretty much come from nowhere to make the Mastermind Final, taking notable scalps in the process. Well done to you, Nick.
You just knew that David Love was going to set a total. He managed 12 in the semis, but to me he has really been Mr. Consistency in this series, and I felt sure that he would do better than this. Indeed he did. He seemed a little surprised that some of his more speculative answers were correct – but really had no need to be so. If they’re right, it doesn’t matter how much of a guess they are. David whacked in a hefty 14, to take him to a fine score of 28, and now at least Gary had a target to aim at.
A target which I felt certain would be surpassed by Andy Tucker. Now, at this stage, you would have forgiven Andy had he lost a little composure. Gary’s score had made him overwhelming favourite at the halfway stage, and it looked unlikely that Andy would be able to overhaul a 5 point deficit. All the more credit then for whacking in an excellent 16 points, to take his own score to 30. Make no mistake about this, Andy had actually put himself in with the chance of a win. When the target reaches 12 points, then that is what I call the corridor of uncertainty, after all, how many times have we seen really good quizzers struggle to rattle off enough correct answers to win once the total required reaches 12 and over ? Andy had done everything he could, and you cannot do more than that. Respect is due.
Like Maya, Mark Wyatt found himself served a tough GK round as well, and he found it pretty hard going. I’m not surprised. The first few questions rather knocked the wind out of his sails, and he never really got any momentum going at all. Well, it can happen. Mark is a Mastermind finalist, and nothing can take that away. It didn’t work out this time – which doesn’t matter. Just being there was an achievement in itself.
So Gary, even without the lucky shirt , or the pink shirt, returned to the chair, probably knowing in his heart of hearts that he would never have such a good chance to win Mastermind – and I know from conversations we had a couple of years ago in the Only Connect dressing room just how much he wanted to one day do this. He must have still felt under intense pressure at this stage – but I knew better than most that he could cope. Of the three of us in the Radio Addicts Gary dealt with the pressure of the grand final better than any of us. He produced a round , then, every bit as good as Andy’s – in fact statistics will show that it was slightly better since there were no passes. In terms of how good a performance that was, well, the record for a Humphrys Final is 37, held jointly by his two predecessors Ian Bayley and Jesse Honey, followed by my own predecessor, Geoff Thomas who scored 36 in 2006. That’s a hell of a group to find yourself among. I’m so delighted to have a Scottish winner as well. Fred Housego was born in Dundee, but I believe that he is the only previous Scottish winner, and even then Fred was more often referred to as ‘London Cabbie Fred” rather than Scottish born Fred.
Many congratulations Gary ! I offer special commiserations too to Andy. As John said scoring 30 would have won some past finals, but congratulations on a string of fine performances this series. Finally congratulations to all 96 contenders who gave is good entertainment this season, and to the production team for the same reason.
|Mark Wyatt||The Life and Work of JMW Turner||15 - 1||4 - 6||19 – 7|
|Maya Davis||Alchemy||6 - 2||14 - 2||20 - 4|
|David Love||Tom Lehrer||14 - 0||14 - 0||28 - 0|
|Nick Reed||The Diggers||12 - 0||8 - 6||20 - 6|
|Gary Grant||Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises||19 - 0||16 - 0||35 - 0|
|Andy Tucker||The History of Azerbaijan – 1919 – Present Day||14 - 0||16 - 1||30 – 1|