The Magnificent Five
Earlier this week the final of "The Brain of Britain" saw Geoff Thomas become only the fifth person ever to complete the "Mastermind" and "Brain of Britain " double. This would seem like an opportune time to reflect a little on the men who have managed this remarkable and difficult achievement.
A very unassuming champion, Roger Pritchard won Brain of Britain and Brain of Brains in 1974.Funnily enough, all of the other double champions won Mastermind first before Brain of Britain. To underline his achievement, he also went on to become the third ever Top Brain in 1980. He put his decision to apply for Mastermind down to an excess of Christmas bravado. Roger won the 1976 series, when contenders were allowed to use the same subject for the first round and the final, and so he used the Duke of Wellington for his first round and final subject, and 20th century British warships for the semi final. He was the youngest champion at the time. Roger also took part in the 1982 Tournament of Champions - which was actually won by Sir David Hunt.
Kevin Ashman's quiz career is so full and illustrious that it would take simply far too long to do it justice here. Kevin was the first Mastermind champion to have appeared in the programme in a previous series. The rule limiting contenders to just the one appearence was changed in 1995. Kevin had previously reached the semi final in the 1987 series. In 1995 he swept all opposition aside, setting a record of 41 points that seems unlikely to ever be broken. Kevin had an interesting mix of subjects - Martin Luther King, the History of the Western Film, and for the final, the Zulu War
While still Mastermind champion he won the 1996 Brain of Britain title,and the 1998 Brain of Brains and Top Brain titles. Kevin is unique amongst our Double winners, for he had also won the 1989 Fifteen to One Grand Final
Chris took the longest amount of time to complete the Double after winning the first of the two titles. Chris became probably the next - highest profile Mastermind winner after Fred Housego in 1983. Chris answered on British steam locomotives in the first round and the final, and The Flashman novels of George Macdonald Fraser in the semi final.
By the time that Chris took on Brain of Britain he'd had his first media career in the 80s, gone back to being an ordinary member of the public, then resurfaced on TV as one of the Eggheads, along with double winner Kevin Ashman. Chris won the 2005 series, although he lost out to Mark Bytheway for the Brain of Brains title in 2008.
Patrick completed a unique treble by winning his Brain of Britain title in 2006.Pat is so far the only person to do the Mastermind /BOB double and also to win £1 million on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Pat won the 2005 series of Mastermind, answering on the films of Quentin Tarantino, the Culture novels of Iain Banks, and Father Ted.
A year later, Pat won the 2006 series of Brain of Britain. Like Chris he lost out to Mark Bytheway for the Brain of Brains title in 2008. Pat is widely recognised as one of the finest quizzers in the world, and whats more, is just one of the very nicest quizzers you could ever hope to meet.
Geoff had won other TV and radio titles before he won Mastermind in 2006 - Counterpoint on Radio 4, and Todays the Day on TV. 2006 was actually Geoff's fourth attempt at Mastermind, and he has taken part in all three different TV incarnations. 2003 represented a near miss, when Geoff was runner up . However in 2006 he carried all before him. I can vouch for this. 2006 was my first attempt at Mastermind. I was knocked out in the first round by Kath Drury, a very fine quizzer in her own right. I was stand-in for the semis, and was sitting in the audience for the first semi, which Geoff won . I thought he was awesome on the general knowledge round. Geoff's subjects in 2006 were Edith Piaf, William Joyce, and Margaret Mitchell.
I believe that Geoff had attempted Brain of Britain before as well, coming runner up to Daphne Fowler in 1997. There was no doubt in the result this time round, despite some very good competition .
So there we are. Its worth noting that the list is exclusively male, but then thats not such a surprise. Its only in the noughties that doing the double has become les rare, and when you think of it, the only two women who have won either title since 1990 are Daphne Fowler, who won Brain of Britain, and Anne Ashurst who won Mastermind, both in 1997. Daphne, I know , took part in the 1999 Mastermind radio series.