And so to the last of the first round heats. Monday’s contestants were : -
but they all came up clean, as it were. In its most basic terms a score of 13 would secure a berth in the second round, accepting that this was a second place score.
Phil Beckett kicked off with 2, but didn’t know an aubade would be sung in the morning. A bonus for Gina there. John took 2 but didn’t know that an anonymous letter to Lord Monteagle tipped him off about the Gunpowder plot. A gettable one that, certainly. Gina didn’t know that Lord Liverpoool still holds the record of being the longest continually serving British PM since 1801. I was quietly pleased with myself for getting that one. On to Peter to finish the round, then. He took 3, but probably should have known the traditional name of the dog in Punch and Judy shows. It fell to John to tell us it was Toby. John and Peter led with three each.
Phil didn’t know the quetzal and neither did the others. John knew his first, but didn’t know that the stick used in hurling his the Hurley. Gina, I’m sorry to say let an astronomy gimme go begging when she failed to answer that the asteroid belt lies between Mars and Jupiter, a bonus for Phil. Peter got one of those I should have known but couldn’t remember – that Joey is the name of Michael Morpurgo’s “The War Horse”. A low scoring round. On with the third, then, and Phil got a snatch of Barry Manilow singing “I write the Songs”. The question being, who actually did write that song? I didn’t know, and neither did anyone else that it was one time Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. John Harris didn’t know that it was Antigone who helped her blinded father Oedipus. Gina took her first but didn’t know about HG Wells’ Invisible Man. Peter didn’t know that David McCallum played that very character on TV. One point separated all four contestants going into round 4. Phil didn’t know heroic couplets, neither did anyone else. John answered his first two but didn’t known chitin, which gave Phil a bonus. Gina knew her first, but didn’t know that a Piccadill was a collar. Peter knew his first , but didn’t know that when someone puts the words “Oliver Goldsmith” and “novel” into a sentence, you’ll invariably be right when you answer with “The Vicar of Wakefield”. Nobody else could manage it, and so it meant that heading into the Beat the Brains interval John had a one point lead with 6.
The first Beat the Brains question was this – An item made in any one of 4 precious metals has to be hallmarked before it can be traded. What are they? – The brains managed gold – silver – platinum, but missed on palladium. The second was – where would you be most likely to find a welsh harlequin, an indian runner and an Egyptian thingummybob . They knew that these are all breeds of chicken, and so gave the correct answer.
Back to the serious business and round five. Phil didn’t know the Hindi word which equates to 10 million. Not surprised. John took his first but didn’t know the Centurion tank. Gina didn’t know the singer Gil Scott Heron, and Peter had the bonus. For his own questions Peter took one, but didn’t know the Portland Club. John and Peter now led with 7 apiece. Phil answered his first, but didn’t know that the Queen’s representative on the Isle of Man is the Lieutenant Governor. John answered one, but missed out on a group of water colour artists, which Gina took for a bonus. For her own questions she took two but missed out on two categories of twilight – civil and nautical. You don’t say. Peter probably should have known that it was Mussorgsky who composed Night on Bald Mountain – well, it was in Fantasia, after all, and this gave a bonus to Phil. Gina had been the net gainer in this round. John led by one, but anyone could win.
On to the last round. Phil took his first, but didn’t know the modern spelling of Christmas Island – Kiritimati. John didn’t know his first, that the Battle that ended the American – Mexican war was the Battle of San Jacinto River. Gina missed her first, not knowing that Zeus turned Callisto into a bear. Phil had it. Now, I happen to have read “The Bandsman’s Daughter”. I can’t vouch for Peter Russell having read it, but he had it. he didn’t know that the heir apparent of Belgium is given the title Duke of Brabant. All of which meant that Gina, on 7, was definitely 4th. But Phil, John and Peter each had 8. The rules are clear on what happens next. A single question is asked, and the first to buzz in gets the point. It was John Harris who knew that Amy Johnson took off from Croydon on her epic flight to Australia, and so he won the last semi final slot.
A good and exciting show, even if it wasn’t of the highest quality that we’ve heard all series. All of the contestants were knowledgable, and displayed this at times, but it’s just that they are probably none of them quizzers, judging by some of the answers that went begging. Well played, though.
Phil Beckett – 8
John Harris - *9 (AET)
Gina Joliff – 7
Peter Russell – 8