The Return of the Repechage ?
Interesting news about the next series of “Mastermind”. This has yet to be officially confirmed, but one of my quiz friends has just told me that in the next series the 6 highest scoring losers in the first round will all be given places in the semi finals.
I’m not entirely sure whether this means a return to the old ‘ repechage’ semi final, of which more later. I think its more likely that each of the 6 semi finals will be made up of 3 heat winners, and a highest scoring loser. I may be wrong, but I fancy some of the highest scoring losers were given places in the semis in the inaugural Humphrys era series in 2003, but they certainly haven’t been since.
The repechage was a key feature of the Magnus Magnusson years of Mastermind. I believe that in the first series in 1972 one place in the semi finals was set aside for the highest scoring loser in the heats. Then from 1973 until 1996 one of the semi finals was reserved for the four highest losers. In the last Magnus Magnusson series in 1997, it was the shortest ever series, but three highest scoring losers went through to the semi finals.
More than one champion actually took the repechage route to the finals. Working through Magnus Magnusson’s excellent “I’ve Started So I’ll Finish” I’ve compiled a list as follows : -
Champions who reached the semis through being first round highest losers : -
Patricia Owen 1973
Sir David Hunt 1977
Rosemary James 1978
Margaret Harris 1984
David Edwards 1990
Anne Ashurst 1997 – actually Anne Ashurst lost her semi final rather than her heat, but uniquely in 1997 one place in the final was set aside for the highest scoring loser in the semis, which Anne was.
In the interests of fairness I should perhaps also say that there are three champions who lost in an earlier series of the show – who are : -
Kevin Ashman 1995 ( also appeared 1987 )
Geoffrey Thomas 2006 ( also appeared 1994 , Discovery Mastermind, 2003 )
David Clark 2007 ( also appeared 2006 )
I think that its probably only fair to allow a number of highest scoring losers through to the semis. While I would absolutely hate for the show to use the Sports Mastermind system of only the 6 top scoring contenders progressing to the final, I do have friends who missed out on the semis in the last couple of years , when their scores would have seen them through in Magnus’ day.
Hopefully if the series is now made shorter because of this, then the BBC will be a little more considerate, and stop taking it off at the drop of a hat.