It’s only a fortnight since the last show, but somehow it seems longer. Mastermind returned last night, and the very first contender was Julia Hobbs. Julia you may recall from Ian’s 2011 series, where she won both heat and semi to take a well earned place in the Grand Final. Back then Julia answered specialist rounds on Tales of the City, Calvin and Hobbes, and Eddie Izzard. This time round she offered us the Films of John Hughes. The name might not mean a lot to you, but I guarantee that you’ll have heard of many of the films. Julia produced quite a n assured round, although just a couple of questions held her up, and there were two passes as well to be taken into consideration. 11 points was a decent return for the round, but still one which left a bit of elbow room for the other three contenders.
Jamie Potton was one of three Mastermind virgins in this heat. His specialist subject was the traditional type subject of King David I of Scotland. David was the son of the real life King Malcolm III – Malcolm in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. Everything about this round was quality, from the speed of answers to the breadth of knowledge displayed. In fact only one question – an answer of Northampton rather than the Northumberland required, conspired to prevent Jamie from achieving a perfect round, a fact that John gleefully informed him at the end of the round. Nevertheless 14 and no passes gave him a significant lead.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and leading anti-Nazi dissident who was executed just weeks before the end of the war in Europe. Testing his knowledge of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was Stuart Jenkins. They say that lightning never strikes twice, but for the second round running what looked to be a perfect round all the way through was just interrupted by one question, in this case the last, where Stuart was just one out when asked for Bonhoeffer’s prison cell number. His slightly more measured delivery of the answers meant that he finished with 13 and no passes, one behind Jamie.
Challenged, then, to match that if he could was Darren Topping. Darren’s subject was the Life and Career of Iggy Pop. Mr. Pop is probably best known for his TV ads for car insurance, although I believe he has also made a couple of records as well. Darren answered very quickly, and for the most part very well. It wasn’t quite a perfect round – and for the first time in a couple of rounds John didn’t bother to inform us of this fact – but it was a very good one, and accrued him 14 points and no passes to leave him joint leader with Jamie at the turn around.
2 points down on 3rd place, and 3 down on the leader, Julia looked as if she had a lot to do. Well, that’s what Jess, who for once hadn’t been driven out of the living room by me having my weekly fix of MM, opined. I said that while three points is a significant gap, it is bridgeable in 2 and a half minutes if you have a good GK. In three previous attempts Julia had always managed double figures. I reckoned that anything in the teens would be enough to put three newbies into the corridor of uncertainty. Well, in two of her previous rounds Julia scored 14 on GK, and that’s exactly what she scored here in this show. The only fly in the ointment could possibly be the one pass.
Stuart Jenkins again answered in a calm and measured fashion in his round. This proved to be a good tactic for the first two minutes, as the correct answers greatly outnumbered the incorrect ones, and the score mounted steadily. With thirty seconds to go he looked home and dry, and yet it was at this point that the round really ground to a halt. From 23 and plenty of time left he just managed to take his score for the round to 12 and for the show to 25 by the end of the round. Crucially, though, he only added two passes to his account, which left him just ahead of Julia on pass countback.
Usually during a show at least one of the contenders will reveal enough in their expression for you to be able to at least hazard a guess at their thought processes. I thought that Jamie’s questions, while gettable for a seasoned quizzer in the most part, were, on the whole, slightly harder than the previous two rounds. Judging by his expression, Jamie thought so as well. Most of them were greeted by an expression which seemed to suggest – where on earth did you dig that one up from? -. It’s a common enough experience on Mastermind to sit in the chair, listening to the other contender’s GK rounds and thinking how much you’d have liked their questions, then finding how much you don’ t like your own. To cut a long story slightly shorter, from about half way it looked highly unlikely that Jamie was going to challenge, and he finished with 20.
Which only left Darren Topping. He launched into the round with the same gusto with which he’d attacked his specialist round, and after a wobble or two at the star it looked as if he was in with a chance. From about a minute and three quarters though he was perceptibly falling behind the clock. At the bell he had incurred 4 passes, and you could see in his face as John read them out that he thought it was a long shot, but on the other hand it was just possible that he had done it. Believe me it would take incredible mental discipline to be able to count your score while you’re doing your round – I couldn’t do it, that’s for sure. When John announced that he’d scored 23 a rueful smile passed across his face.
So well done Stuart, and good luck in the semis. As for Julia, hard lines. John said that she could well find herself in the semis with 25. Well, it is possible still, although I haven’t counted up how many passes all the other contenders on 25 have so far. 25 is currently the lowest score needed for a repechage slot – so you never know. Experience suggests that this probably won’t be enough, but you never know.
|Julia Hobbs||The Films of John Hughes||11 - 2||14 - 1||25 - 3|
|Jamie Potton||King David I of Scotland||14 – 0||6 - 1||20 - 1|
|Stuart Jenkins||Dietrich Bonhoeffer||13 – 0||12 – 2||25 - 2|
|Darren Topping||The Life and Career of Iggy Pop||14 – 0||9 – 4||23 - 4|