Friday, 3 March 2017

Mastermind 2017- The Grand Final

I wish that the Beeb would make a little bit more of a fuss about the Grand Final these days. I mean, nobody’s ever likely to become a household name through winning the show again, but they could at least show a little enthusiasm for it. Well, enough of negatives, for if this was not such a close-run affair as last year’s it was still a gripping and highly enjoyable contest.

First up was Lynn Edwards. Having already given us The Forsyte Novels and Mary of Teck, Lynn offered us another change of pace with the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Now, one of my small pleasures in watching the grand final is seeing who wins the lottery of the film inserts. Lynn didn’t get a huge awayday, being given a tube ticket to Covent Garden. As for her round, well, she did make the point in her film that Alfred Hitchcock made an awful lot of films – although not a lot of awful films – and it always looked as if her score of 9, while perfectly respectable for a final, was going to leave her some way behind at the turn.

Our first insert lottery winner, then, was Frances Slack, who had offered us Rogers and Hammerstein and William Goldman in previous rounds. Frances got to visit St. Petersburg. Hardly surprising since she was offering us The City of Leningrad 1924 – 1991. To be fair it looked a bit chilly in her film, but she was obviously thrilled to be there, and I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at the chance of a visit either. A score of 11 looked quite competitive, although you still had the feeling that there was enough meat left on that joint for one of the following contenders to open up a decent lead if they had a really great round.

LAM reader Isabelle Heward scored a jackpot with her film insert. While she had already offered us Rita Hayworth and the daughters of George III, Isabelle was answering on the films of Billy Wilder. One long haul flight later, Isabelle got to go straight to the USA. That’s 2 decent awaydays so far. Are we keeping count, dearly beloved? As had Frances, Isabelle beat the previous target, and raised the bar. 12 is a competitive score in a grand final, but I did still have a feeling that we’d see higher.

As soon as I heard that LAM reader Mohan Mudigonda was answering on the sitcom Seinfeld, I thought that there was no way that the Beeb could avoid shelling out on a trip to New York for his insert. I was right. That’s 3 great awaydays – is that a record, I ask myself? Well, whatever the case, for the third round in a row, the contender outscored the previous, and set a new target. Mohan, who had answered on Nirvana and Asterix in previous shows, managed a terrific 13, and this is the kind of score which it takes something rather special to beat. Now you may remember Mohan’s forehead slapping in the semi-final. He treated us to just one more of these at the end of his round having passed on one question. Never mind the one pass – it’s the 13 correct answers that matter.

Now, dont’ get me wrong, I like Greenwich. Hey, I used to walk over to Greenwich every Sunday when I was a student lodging on the edge of Blackheath Even so though, you can’t help feeling a little sorry for Steven Marc Rhodes that in his film he only got to visit the magnificent Queen’s House, designed by his specialist subject, Inigo Jones. Previously Steven answered on Nicholas Hawksmoor and Herbert Howells. Again, another very good round, levelling out at 12 points. If he got anywhere close to the GK round he’d produced in his heat, then Steven was definitely going to be in the shakeup by the end of the show.

Last, but definitely not least, was John Cockerill. John too stayed in Blighty, but he seemed absolutely delighted with his visit to Ulverston, the birthplace of Stan Laurel. Previously John had answered on British Race Courses and Captain James Cook, but tonight he gave us another change of tack with the short films of Laurel and Hardy. And why not? Even limiting himself to the shorts, he still had to deal with over 100 of them. Let’s be honest too, he could not have dealt with them any better either. His 15 was by far the pick of the specialist rounds, a pretty much flawless performance, and one which made him the man to beat – if possible – in the GK round.

Lynn Edwards returned for her GK round. Lynn had won her place in the Grand Final with a rattling good GK round of 13 in her semi final. In that show she’d impressed me with what I judged from her reactions to her answers to be intelligent guesswork. She answered every question tonight without passing as well, but her guesses weren’t quite as successful. 8 points put her onto 17, and with the best will in the world I think it was fair to say that the contest was now between the remaining 5. Frances Slack had produced an excellent 17 in her first round, and a solid 10 in the semi. This, though was the final, and steady and solid just wouldn’t be enough. As it was the questions just didn’t seem to run for Frances, and she too finished with a total of 17.

In my review of heat 22, I said that Steven Marc Rhodes’ GK round of 19 made me want to stand up and applaud the telly. Well, I’m not ashamed to say that I got so excited by Isabelle Heward’s magnificent round of 17 that I did stand up and applaud the telly tonight. Look, I may kid myself that I’m impartial, but no, I wanted Isabelle to win tonight. Three times a semi-finalist, but never before a finalist. And she’s a LAM reader, as is Mohan. Forgive me if I wax lyrical, but Isabelle ripped that round to shreds. That wasn’t just the kind of performance to put the remaining three contenders into the corridor of doubt – it was one which added a 100 yard extension on the end of the corridor as well.

While Steven produced a good round – which John nicely acknowledged, the fact is that it didn’t really approach Isabelle’s. Mind you, at the outset of the round he needed to score 17 just to draw. The banker would only pay 18 and over. 11 is a perfectly good score, and Steven, if you’re watching you can be proud of what you’ve achieved this year.

As can our penultimate contender, Mohan. I take my hat off to Mohan for being perfectly open about how much he wanted to win during his filmed insert. As he did in his heat and his semi-final, he certainly gave it a lash. However, you could tell by the look on his face as he fought for the answer to his last question that he knew he hadn’t done it. There’s no shame there.

Only John Cockerill remained, then. To put the target into perspective, John needed 14 and no passes to force a tie break, and the banker would pay 15 and over. His 2 GK rounds so far suggested that this was do-able. So did the way he answered his first minute or so of questions. Needing such a large total, though, means you can’t afford slips – and every wrong answer you give makes your task more difficult. With half a minute to go he looked off the pace, and a run of unhelpful questions put the task beyond him. In the end he scored 11 to finish a worthy and well deserved second.

Many, many, many congratulations Isabelle. While I can accept that you might have had as good a GK performance as that before, I doubt you’ve ever had a better, or more important one. Commiserations to all of our other contenders, but please take heart from the fact that it took an exceptional performance to beat you. My thanks to the production team for another highly enjoyable series. Friday evenings are not going to be the same for a while now.

The Details

Lynn Edwards
The Films of Alfred Hitchcock
Frances Slack
The City of Leningrad 1924 - 1991
Isabelle Heward
The Life and Films of Billy Wilder
Mohan Mudigonda
Steven Marc Rhodes
Inigo Jones
John Cockerill
The Short Films of Laurel and Hardy


Unknown said...

Well who's to say that it was an insanely exciting final that finished with a bang!

I was watching with my dad and we both had the same reaction to Isabelle's general knowledge round, both simultaneously saying "Oh. My. God." Especially after the fact that she had appeared on Mastermind a few times over the years. A great achievement for her. I remember thinking in the mid stage of John's general knowledge, he was getting close to the target and he would eventually overtake and win but he slowed down noticeably and finished short of the win.

And now I'd actually like to see another Champion of Champions competition again sometime soon, maybe see how some of the most recent champions like Gary Grant, Alan Heath and of course Isabelle would go against some of the great past winners like Kevin Ashman, Pat Gibson or Shaun Wallace.

Mohan said...

Hello everyone 
Now that the final has been aired, I thought I would use this rather fine blog to write about Mastermind as I experienced it. Do please forgive the self indulgence.
I’ll not go through the feelings I experienced in the first round and semis; David summed things up beautifully in his posts and I suspect my feelings of getting through would mirror the hundreds of other contenders who came before and who will come after.

I’m not overtly religious but I do believe in a higher power and I did pray to whoever was Upstairs the night before the final. I didn’t pray to win. That is somewhat facile and besides, I’m not six and there were five other supremely talented contenders who wanted the same thing.
I simply prayed that whatever the outcome, that I could be proud of my performance and feel good about how I acquitted myself.
I must confess that nearly four months on, that feeling of pride has not quite found its way to the forefront.
The human mind is an incredible thing. It allows us to rationalise so many things, and yet at the same time, our emotions conflict with our rationale.
I had reached the last six of one of the most difficult and most coveted quizzes in existence. Though it meant so much, there would be no negative repercussions for not winning the trophy. I would not be jobless, nor would I lose my family or home as a result. However, as a wise man once said (I wonder who David…  ) “just because something isn’t important, doesn’t mean it does not matter”.
By the same token, just because I was disappointed with myself, does not remotely mean that I was not in absolute awe of my fellow contenders and in particular Isabelle.
Having seen the performances of all my fellow finalists throughout the series, I have been blown away. Steven’s 31 in his opening round, John’s superb SS rounds, Frances’ and Lynne’s calm and collected semi- final performances and of course, Isabelle’s outstanding performance in the final.
Afterwards, I congratulated Isabelle, who magnanimously said that she got lucky with her questions. Not a bit of it. She would have won no matter what questions came up. In addition, I felt truly inspired by the fact that she had appeared on the show three times previously. She clearly wanted this so much and it was written in the stars. Many congratulations Isabelle if you are reading this. I could not be happier for you.
In closing, I will always be grateful for this incredible experience. The final was bittersweet, I cannot deny, and I can’t help thinking that I did a bit of a Leicester City in getting to the final. I fully intend to reapply and keep doing so until I win, but somehow, I wonder whether this year is as good as it is going to get.
Whatever may happen, I’ll always remember the feeling of sitting in ‘that chair’; the total feeling of surprise when told that I’d be going to New York for my final insert and being in sheer awe of how hard working, talented and kind the production crew were during the whole process.
Truly, this has been an experience I will cherish always. Despite being put through the emotional wringer, I’ll be doing it again first chance I get.

Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

Mohan, you were a joy to watch, as were all of this year's contenders. It's been a brilliant series filled with brilliant performances, and as an aspiring quizzer who dreams of one day filling your shoes, you're all such strong inspirations. Mohan, I cannot wait to see you competing again, and I'm far from alone in saying so!

That GK from Isabelle was truly something extraordinary, and to be able to answer so many varied and difficult questions so comfortably, in that chair under that pressure, facing that level of competition, is really quite incredible. An amazing performance.

I've also got to shout out to Steven's plans for the Mastermind bowl - making a trifle in it - which would have been hilarious to see actually happen. Perhaps in the future, if you're reading this!

Great stuff one and all - how long until the next series, again? said...

I've sometimes tnought that if I did Mastermind again, I'd pick 'The History of Hawaii' for a final round subject. A free trip there would be a powerful motivation for getting to the final.

Realistically, I had picked something closer to home - the singer Alex Harvey, who was from Glasgow. A trip to New York or St Petersberg (or Hawaii) would be nice, but as there's only abuot a month between recording the semis and the final, a long trip would be distruptive and too tiring for me. I'd rather be getting to grips with the new specialist subject,

Anyway, congratulations to Isabelle, and well done to all the finalists.

Londinius said...

Hi All.

Mohan, if I can come to you first, thank you for leaving this comment. I am going to take the liberty of reposting this as a post in its own right, for I am sure that all LAM readers will find it as interesting, honest, and inspirational as I have. With regards to this being as good as it ever gets for you in Mastermind, all I would say there is this. My beloved grandmother had a saying - what's for you won't go past you. We can take Isabelle's example - she would have been forgiven for thinking after her third semi final - well, this is as good as it is ever going to get for me, and never reapplied. The last person who sticks out in my memory as so clearly articulating his desire to win as you did was Ian Bayley - he did alright, didn't he?! Follow the dream.

Liam , I liked your comment, "And now I'd actually like to see another Champion of Champions competition again sometime soon, maybe see how some of the most recent champions like Gary Grant, Alan Heath and of course Isabelle would go against some of the great past winners like Kevin Ashman, Pat Gibson or Shaun Wallace." but I think the last line you were going to write ". . . and of course, you as well Dave" must have been lost due to a technical glitch!

Mastermind trifle bowl - maybe he would have done so as well. To be honest, my Mastermind bowl has never held anything apart from soapy water when I've been cleaning it to take it somewhere to show it off.

Yes, in the back of my mind I did kind of hope that they'd be ringing me up when I made my filmed insert to offer me a trip to Lake Havasu where Rennie's London Bridge - sort of - stands. As it was though, a trip to the Museum of London after hours, and a fried egg in Borough Market had to do. And I thoroughly enjoyed them too.

dxdtdemon said...

You know how hockey players sometimes bathe their small children in the Stanley Cup? Is the glass bowl big enough to bathe an infant?

Unknown said...

Don't worry Dave you're a great champion as well! :D

I must admit though after last years series I sent an application to be in this series but got a letter saying they didn't accept applications from people outside UK. To do Mastermind some day will be a great opportunity.

Mohan, you and all the others did a great job at the final, it would have been great to see anyone win! I'm sure the time will come if you or any of the other finalists will decide to go through the mental torture again.

LisaH said...

I have it on good authority from the BBC that one previous winner said rather ungraciously that they were going to use the trophy as a chamber pot!
Congratulations to Isabelle and all the finalists!

Londinius said...

All I can say, Lisa, is that it wasn't me! That narrows it down to another 40 or so suspects.

Stephen Follows said...

Not me either - the Radio 4 winners got a beautiful glass sculpture rather than a bowl.