Friday, 25 September 2009

Mastermind - First round heat 5/24

The iplayer decided not to allow me to watch tonight's show until well past bedtime. Mastermind was, apparently, still coming soon from 8:30 until well after midnight. Still, as if to make up for this, it was a very enjoyable show. For once I find myself a little uncertain as to how many of tonight's contenders are new to Mastermind. Penny Billyeald and Adam Lister are certainly new to the chair, and I'm also fairly certain that Tom Hutchings took part in the 2005 series, when he answered on T.E.Lawrence and came runner up in his heat. However Mike Hely presented me with an interesting question. In "I've Started So I'll Finish", Magnus Magnusson's beautifully written history of the first incarnation of the series, he lists all the competitors from 1972 right up until 1997. Lo and behold, in 1972 one M. Hely took part in the inaugural series. Could this be our man ? Due to the uncommon spelling of his surname, and the fact that our Mr. Hely tonight is a mature gentleman, I rather think he could. If he is, then how wonderful to have someone taking part with a gap of 37 years between appearences.

Adam Lister kicked off the specialist rounds with The Life and Films of Groucho Marx. Interestingly he explained in his filmed insert that "A Hard Day's Night " was essentially a Groucho Marx film, only with the Beatles instead of Groucho. He never explained whether Groucho ever made a recording of "I am the Walrus" in return. Oh well. A good round of 13 and 3 passes put him into contention at the halfway stage.

Penny Billyeald took to the chair with another of the ever popular Obscure Authors rounds, answering on the novels of Dorothy Whipple. Alright, just because I haven't heard of her doesn't make her obscure, I accept. Apparently she has been called a kind of Jane Austen of the 20th century. Whatever lights your candle. Penny Billyeald suffered two early passes in the round which seemed to upset her rhythm a little, but she battled bravely on, and her determination was rewarded when she managed to make it into double figures, with a score of 10.

The enigmatic Mike Hely explained that he'd picked The Battle of Britain since before becoming a barrister he had spent 20 years in the RAF. Unfortunately for me he didn't explain whether he'd ever appeared in the first series of Mastermind while he was there. Mr. Hely was unfortunate to fall foul of giving too much information, when he replied "John Nicholson" to a question when the correct answer was "James Nicholson". Had he only given the surname I'm sure that he would have been given the point.

Finally Tom Hutchings, a schoolteacher. There's something about the show that does attract members of my profession. However we don't all take specialist subjects connected with it. Mr. Hutchings did though, offering us The Life and Works of Thomas Arnold. Thomas Arnold was the famous headteacher of Rugby School interestingly enough at the same time that "Tom Brown's Schooldays" was set there, although this was never mentioned during the show, nor was his son, the poet Matthew Arnold. It wouldn't have made a lot of difference anyway, since Tom Hutchings knew his stuff inside out, and scored a fine 15 and 1 pass to lead into the GK round.

Penny Billyeald showed the same determination and grit in her GK round as she'd shown in the specialist, and put together a good performance to add 11 points and 4 more passes to take her score to 21 and 9. This is very respectable quizzing. Mike Hely followed suit. Although scoring 11 correct answers he added 5 passes to his score, but took the lead, having scored a total of 21 and 5 . As Adam Lister took to the chair there was an expectant atmosphere I could feel even through my PC screen. Surely he wouldn't end up with 21 as well ? He only needed 9, after all. Well, 9 he may have needed, but 8 was what he got, and this, together with the 2 extra passes he added to his score meant that he was now tying for the lead with 21 and 5.

It all looked nicely set for Tom Hutchings to sweep majestically past the rest of the field with a competent showing on GK. However the luck of the draw served him up with what seemed from the Clark sofa to be the hardest GK set of the night. You always felt that he would do it, but he was only really edging towards the tape. In the end, though he managed to win with a couple of points to square. Well done , sir. You can only praise someone who comes back for a second bite of the cherry, and improves upon their previous performance.

As for the runner-up, well, this begs an interesting question. John Humphrys announced the other three contenders as all coming in joint second place. However I can't help wondering where this leaves us with regard to the six semi final slots. Alright, tonight's runner up is 5th out of 5 in the race for the 6 slots, and highly likely to slip out of contention before very many other heats have been broadcast. But lets suppose he didn't. How would they decide between Mike Hely and Adam Lister for the slot ? Well, as I said, its probably academic, since it only needs another two runners up to score more than 21, which is likely to happen sooner rather than later. For the record, here's the details : -

The Details
Adam Lister The life and films of Groucho Marx13- 38 - 221 - 5
Penny BillyealdThe Novels of Dorothy Whipple10 - 511 - 421- 9
Mike HelyThe Battle of Britain10 - 011 - 521- 5
Tom HutchingsLife and works of Thomas Arnold15 - 18- 423 5

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

Les Morrell26 - 3
Colin Wilson25 - 0
William de'Ath25 - 4
Vishal Dalal23 - 4
Adam Lister/Mike Hely 21 - 5

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