Right then, as requested, last Monday’s Brain of Britain. The contestants were: -
Talk about a stacked heat! Marcus I don’t know, but Andy and Nicholas are both mastermind semifinalists, and Mark is a two times Mastermind finalist, and member of the Crossworders, Only Connect’s Super Champions. Andy is a very good quizzer. However Mark is a great quizzer, and you have to say that it was very bad luck two men of this calibre getting drawn against each other in this early stage. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, and on with the show.
Marcus took his first, but didn’t know that the spires of Lichfield Cathedral are nicknamed the Ladies of the Veil. mark knew that – good shout. Andy was caught out by a gettable first – he didn’t know that the halcyon is the kingfisher which let Marcus in for a bonus. Nicholas Flindall didn’t know for his first that Chaucer’s Tabard Inn from the Canterbury Tales was in Southwark. Marcus again had a bonus with that one. Mark took his first, but didn’t recognize the opening lines of Anna Sewell’s “Black Beauty”. Neither did I, nor anyone else. 3 to Marcus, 2 to Mark. In the second round Marcus took his first two, but couldn’t remember the chestnutty title that Wedgie Benn renounced. Andy was in for the bonus with Viscount Stansgate. Now, I loved the Professor Branestawm books by Norman Hunter – not Bite Yer Legs, I think – but Andy missed out and the bonus went to Marcus. Nicholas didn’t know that an exclamation mark in Mathematics denoted factorial, and Mark had the bonus. For his own set he did the equivalent ‘opening his legs and showing his class’ to use a Colemanism, and took a good set of five. This meant that he had a lead of 9 to Marcus’ 6.
Marcus, as so many contestants do on this show, missed a relatively easy popular culture question, being unable to identify the song the Candy man from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Mark had that. For Andy’s first a little surprisingly nobody knew that Parzival from Germanic legend was the father of Lohengrin. Nicholas didn’t know that the only known portrait from life of Jane Austen was made by her sister Cassandra. Mark did. Nicholas opened his account when he took a bonus on mark’s first question. He recognized a Jonsonian description of a cucumber. MArk now led by 11 – 6. Marcus took his first, but those pesky films caught him out again. Asked for the next four words after this quotation from a Marx Brothers film – “Either he’s dead or – “ he was unable to dredge up – my watch has stopped. Mark snapped that one up. Sadly for Andy he didn’t recognize the dulcet tone of Tracey Ullman singing her version of Move Over Darling for his first. Mark took that as well. “ The lowest depths a human being can sink to before God” according to Kierkegard was Nicholas’ first question. Nobody had it – journalist being the answer. Mark was tripped up on GBS’s “Three Plays for Puritans”. Never heard of it. It didn’t matter, since, as we moved to the Beat the Brains interval, he led by 14 to Marcus’ 14.
The first listener’s question was What do Bette Midler – Nicole Kidman and Barack Obama have in common. Immediately I thought born in Hawaii, and so did the brains. I knew the second as well – Larry Grayson – Cilla Black and David Jason all had the real surname of White. The Brains made very short work of that too. I’m very sorry, but you won’t beat Brains like these with questions like that.
In the next round Marcus took his first, but didn’t know that Wastwater is the deepest lake in England. Andy didn’t know that a pinna in humans is the external ear. Mark had that bonus. Nicholas was given a horrible first question, asked to identify the band in an early jazz record. Amazingly Andy had it with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Mark then finished the round taking his first, but failing to complete the quote – he that increaseth knowledge increaseth - . Nobody knew the answer was sorrow. Mathematically Mark could have lost still, but he was surely already in the semis with 17 points and still some time to go. In the next round Marcus took one, but failed to equate Yorick with George. Andy did that. For his own round he took his first but didn’t know that Brief Encounter was based on Noel Coward’s Still Life. Nobody knew that. Nicholas didn’t know the disused British Museum underground station. I did, but only because I love the tube, and even once considered it as a potential Mastermind subject. I digress. In his own round Mark listened to John Laurie reciting the Tay Bridge Disaster, but could only come up with Fraser, the name of Laurie’s Dad’s Army character. Andy took that. Marcus was undone by broadcasting again, not knowing that 1938 saw Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast. Mark was in like a coiled cobra for that one. Andy didn’t know that the horse Eclipse is commemorated on the Rowley Mile, and it was Mark who came in for that one. For Nicholas first I was surprised that nobody knew that the apostle Thomas’ alternative name of Didymus means twin – that one has done the rounds. Now, I knew a Science one. Well, I guessed it. Asked which Greek letter stands for the universal gravitational constant I guessed gamma – for G – and although Mark missed it, Marcus had the bonus. It was enough to take him to 10, but Mark had 20 by now.
Going into the last round then, Marcus took a couple , but nobody knew that an eggplant has violet flowers. Andy didn’t know that ‘the unspeakable in the pursuit of the inedible” was a line from ‘A Woman of No Importance’. Nicholas, who’d had a hard evening, took one. He didn’t know that the last item that makes Mr. Creosote explode in “The Meaning of Life” is a tiny wafer theen meent. To finish off, nobody knew Mark’s first, that the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett is awarded in ballooning. So that was that. In the end, a very comfortable win for mark. Marcus had played well, but his score may well not be enough for a semi place – the coin is in the air there. As for Andy, a tough competition with a set of starters which just didn’t suit. The way that BoB works if that happens there is nothing you can do about it, and you just have to take it on the chin. But well played Mark! A terrific performance. It’s far too early to predict that he will go on to emulate fellow Crossworder Ian Bayley – but you’d be a fool to bet against it.
Marcus Cavalier -13
Andy Crane - 5
Nicholas Flindall - 2
Mark Grant - 22