Well, after tonight’s heat are we still waiting for our first all-virgin heat of this year’s mastermind? In a nutshell, yes. Only one recidivist tonight, though, and that was Hazel Humphreys. Hazel was havng her third crack at Mastermind, having taken part in the first round in 2011 and 2013. On those occasions she offered us rounds on Richard Pryor and Dave Allen. Tonight, well tonight she offered us possibly my favourite of the old-school stand ups I grew up with, the great Les Dawson. I must admit, I don’t recall any specialist round relying on quite so many punchlines of jokes before, but hey, it goes with the territory. It’s also the first time I can remember an audience laughing at answers in a regular series show, although it has happened in the sleb shows. 11 points looked a good score, but left enough room for someone to open up a gap at the top if they could put in a blinder.
Martin Roebuck was the first of tonight’s virgins then, and he offered us West Indies Cricket. Cricket is one of those subjects that does inspire people to huge feats of memory regarding statistics and feats, but nonetheless learning it, even just those bits relating to one test country, is a daunting prospect. Martin’s tactic, so it seemed was to answer carefully and precisely. That’s a valid tactic, but it requires great concentration, and it does mean that every wrong answer is slightly magnified, because you’re giving yourself less time for another question. Martin clearly really knew his stuff, but had he been a little quicker I fancy he might have had a dozen, rather than the ten he had accrued by the end of the round.
If cricket inspires devotion, no less do films, especially the films of a director from Hollywood’s golden age like Howard Hawks. This was the subject offered by Neil Madle. He was answering somewhat more quickly, but a little less accurately than Martin had. Swings and roundabouts. So under the circumstances it was probably fair that he achieved the same score of 10 points. So there we were – three rounds down and only one point separating the three contenders.
Which brings us to John Carrington. John looked to be one of the younger contenders we’ve had so far in this series. John was answering questions on the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood. Now, I’ve had something of an interest in the Brotherhood since the BBC put on a highly fictionalized drama series about them called Dangerous Romantics a few years ago. So under the circumstances I wasn’t unhappy to manage 5 of these. well, John did a bit better than that, but with the round stalling at 8 points, leaving him 3 points off the lead you had to fancy that he was unlikely to be on the top step of the podium by the end of the show.
In fact, looking at the scores at half time you had to say that it looked unlikely that anyone would be going through via the repechage slots from this show. The best way to go through has always been to make sure that you win the heat, though, and that’s what all 4 contenders would be trying to do. First back to the chair was John. Now this was the archetypal round of two halves. For the first minute or so John struggled to get going. However , in as much as a pass spiral is only ever two consecutive passes away, it only takes a couple of quick correct answers to establish a bit of momentum, and John saw out his last minute in fine style, taking his score through the 20 point barrier, and finishing on 21. Now, what do I always say? You have to push as far as you can to at least put your opposition into the corridor of uncertainty, and I fancied that this might just do it for John.
Martin returned next, and his round was something of a mirror image of John’s. Still answering slowly and carefully, Martin was picking up the points, and edging up towards the target. In the last minute, though, the round just came to a halt, and refused to push on past 20.
At this stage I began to idly wonder whether John could possibly hold on. I’ll tell you what prompted such thoughts shortly. As had Martin, Neil began well, and had raced up to 17 points with just over a minute left. The next 70 seconds or so were rather torturous for him. He managed to wrest another three points out of the questions to take his score up to 20. Now, I mentioned I had an inkling that John might hold on, and the reason why is I knew that Hazel had scored 7 and 8 in her two previous general knowledge rounds. She needed 10 and no passes in order to win. Well, all I can say is my contention that it gets easier to handle being in the chair each time you do it is looking like wise words after the round Hazel put on. Basically she answered what she knew – which was quite a lot – and what she didn’t she guessed, and judging from her expression quite a few of the 17 points she gained were guesses. That didn’t matter in the least. 17 points is 17 points, and it’s a hell of a good score. Well done! If you had a chance to listen to this week’s podcast you’ll know I speculated on just how man of this year’s semi finalists will turn out to be recidivists. Well, of the 7 already guaranteed places, 6 are recidivists. We could be heading for a record, for what it’s worth.
|Hazel Humphreys||Life and Career of Les Dawson||11 - 2||17 - 2||28 - 4|
|Martin Roebuck||The History of West Indies Cricket||10 - 1||10 - 3||20 - 4|
|Neil Madle||Life and Films of Howard Hawks||10 - 1||10 - 3||20 - 4|
|John Carrington||The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood||8 - 2||13 - 1||21 – 3|