Richard Heller, tonight's first contender, won heat 14 which was shown back in December, when he answered questions on W.C. Fields. Mr. Heller you might remember played in the 1996 Grand Final , so he was battling to become the third member of the two grand finals club, after my predecessor Geoff Thomas, and Roger Stein. he certainly gave himself every chance of doing just that with a magnificent perfect round of 16 questions and 16 correct answers on the Napoleon dynasty. Yes, apparently there were tons of them !
Paula Keaveney offered us Herbert Asquith. She won heat 19 at the end of February answering questions on the Seinfeld TV series. Its a difficult thing to do, getting more than one subject you can really excell on, and while Paula Keaveney's score of 10 and 1 pass was a good one, it really left her too far behind to make a successful bid for the win.
Thomas Armer had won heat 10 in November, with the Le Mans 24 hour race. In that heat he had achieved the rare feat of going through both Specialist and General Rounds without a single pass. Tonight he was answering on Slade - the band. I will cheerfully date myself here by admitting that Slade were the first ever band that I saw live - in their slightly later period , in the Hammersmith Odeon in 1980. Great stuff ! Alas, after a bright start Thomas Armer lost his way a bit, and found the round rather hard going, ending with 8 points and 2 passes.
John Beynon had won the 11th heat with the joint highest score of the first round, 29. His specialist subject had been Grigory Rasputin. Like Thomas Armer he too had not passed at all in his heat. Tonight he produced a sparkling round on the naturalist Gilbert White, which gave the specialist round a very pleasing symmetry since like Richard Heller he too posted a perfect round of 16 questions and 16 correct answers.
So, with two fine quizzers both already on 16, were we at last going to see this seasons first 30 point haul ? The omens were good. However as it was Thomas Armer and Paula Keaveney were to have their say first. Thomas Armer explained how Slade were something of a cut above other 'glam rock' bands since they wrote their own songs. Well said , sir. A haul of 11 points and 1 pass on GK in a semi is a very commendable achievement, and he finished with 19.
Paula Keaveney agreed with John Humphrys that Herbert Asquith should be better remembered by the great British public than he is . She too produced an impressive general knowledge performance, with 11and 5 passes. This is what a semi final is all about - good quizzing .
Richard Heller explained that Napoleon, far from being the megalomaniac dwarf portrayed by cartoonists such as James Gillray, Napoleon was a man of about average height, who inherited most of his enemies from his French Revolutionary predecessors - whose only mistake was to invade Russia. Well, if you're going to make a mistake . . . Right until the end of the round Richard Heller hardly made any mistakes in his. Halfway through the round you'd have put your shirt on him getting to thirty. A couple of wrong answers towards the end saw him stuck on 28, with just the last question pushing him up to 29 and 1 pass.
John Beynon scored 14 and no passes on General Knowledge in his first round heat. Elementary arithmetic revealed that if he could repeat his best performance, then he would do it by the narrowest of margins. Alas, there was a little hiccup, when John Humphrys asked him what HIP stood for in estate agent terminology. At first he seemed to accept John Beynon's answer
"Home Information PLAN ", but then corrected himself, and asked him to repeat. Then he explained it was a wrong answer, since it means
"Home Information PACK. " Quite right. The answer as given was wrong. what bad luck though to have to waste valuable time repeating an answer.
Very bad luck to John Beynon, but for what its worth I thought Richard Heller deserved his win, and I have to say , we have another strong contender through to the final. Three semis down - three to go. Please, BBC, let us watch the last 4 shows without any more interruptions . I am well aware that Wimbledon is rapidly approaching.
|Richard Heller||The Bonaparte Dynasty||16 - 0||13 - 1||29 - 1|
|Paula Keaveney||Herbert Asquith||10 -1||11 - 5||21 - 6|
|Thomas Armer||Slade||8 - 2||11 - 1||19 - 3|
|John Beynon||The Naturalist Gilbert White||16 - 0||12 - 1||28 - 1|