Friday, 20 November 2009

Mastermind - First Round heat 12/24

Well, after all the excitement of the last two weeks, tonight’s show, on the surface, seemed to have a little less to offer us. No dramatic implosions from a seemingly impregnable position, no recidivist returnees, no record scores. Yet was the show devoid of interest ? Absolutely not.

First in the chair, in the first of 2 Mastermind shows tonight was interviewer Keith Pottage. His subject was the history of the NFL 1920 – 1974. Mr. Pottage said that he wanted to do the early years of the NFL as they are more interesting. Well, maybe so, although I have to say that stopping in 1974 was a little disappointing, since my knowledge of American football doesn’t start until the great Pittsburgh Steelers team of the 70’s started racking up superbowl wins like they were going out of fashion. 14 was a good score on a wide ranging round, and looked certain to put Mr. Pottage in the final shake up for the semi final place on offer tonight.

Richie Venner offered us a far more traditional Mastermind subject, in the shape of King Henry VII. Mr. Venner’s filmed insert was a good illustration of the great difficulty you find when you consider Henry VII, which is that his son, Henry VIII is just a lot more interesting. Half of Mr. Venner’s talk was more about the son than the father. Doubtless this is just the way its been edited, but still it does prove a point. Less interesting subject or not, Richie Venner had done his homework, and he too scored 14 points. So job done, as far as the specialist round was concerned.

Bernadette Turner gave us tonight’s author round, although this one was far from obscure. You might not have heard of Stephanie Meyer , but if you have any teenage girls I bet you’re heard of Twilight. The series have become immensely popular recently, and have found even greater audiences from the film adaptations. This was a deceptive round from Bernadette Turner. There were a couple of wrong answers at the start, and a couple of longish pauses, but as we moved into the second minute she kept the score ticking along, and 12 points put her handily placed to challenge if she could put in a barnstorming general knowledge performance.

Our last specialist round tonight – The Architecture of Aberdeen – was taken by solicitor Euan McCulloch. He explained that it was only in the beginning of the 19th century that granite became more available, and its granite that gave Aberdeen both its nickname, and its austere, almost Scandinavian character. Well, dare I say it, the call of my Scottish blood was strong tonight, what with the Clark side of my family hailing originally from Dundee, and so poor Mr. McCulloch was cursed with support from the sofa of doom tonight. It didn’t seem to affect him adversely either, since he practically zipped through the round, scoring an eye catching 16 and no passes. A fine round.

Its all relative, I know, but I felt that the GK rounds were rather more contender friendly than they’ve been in recent weeks. Still, with the lowest score of the first round being 12, it meant that a good score on GK would be essential. Bernadette Turner returned to the chair first, and she gave a measured performance, never getting stuck into a pass spiral, and eventually stretching her score to 21

Keith Pottage returned to the chair, 2 points behind after the first round. Midway through his GK round he got a little stuck, but just gave it a little thought, and produced another flurry of correct answers. What he knew, he answered pretty quickly, and that’s always a good idea. His 11 wasn’t outstanding considering that these were a pretty nice set of questions. Still, 25 would guarantee him a place on the highest runners up board for now.

Richie Venner was asked about Children in Need in one of his questions. You can’t tell me that they didn’t plan that this show would go out on the same night as Children in Need. He’d reached 24 with a good three questions to go, but couldn’t find another point, which would have put him equal with Keith Pottage.

Following last week’s Uriel / Jibril controversy over Michael Burton’s round on Angels last week, it was ironic that Euan McCulloch was actually asked which religion had Jibril as one of its main angels. Mr. McCulloch started confidently enough, but once he reached 21 the round slowed drastically, and although he picked up enough to put him on 24, the end of the round came just too soon.

So well done , Keith Pottage, and good luck in the semis. Well done too the other three contenders. A show when only 4 points separate all 4 contenders is a contest, and I enjoyed it.

The Details

Keith Pottage History of the NFL 1920 – 197414 – 0 11 – 225 – 2

Richie Venner
King Henry VII 14 – 0 10 – 2 24 – 2

Bernadette Turner
The Twilight Novels of Stephanie Meyer 12 – 19 – 6 21 - 7
Euan McCulloch The Architecture of Aberdeen since 1800 16 – 0 8 – 6 24 – 6

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

John Cooper29 – 3
Ian Scott Massie26 – 2
Les Morrell26 - 3
Colin Wilson25 - 0
William de'Ath25 - 4
Frances Gregory & Richie Venner24 - 2

While we're on the subject of MM, congratulations to Lucy Porter, who won an entertaining special edition of Celebrity MM in aid of Children in Need. 4 comedians took to the chair - Mark Watson - Stephen K. Amos - Lucy Porter and Dave Spikey. Using my knowledge of the fact that Dave Spikey has played sleb MM before, and won, I confidently predicted he'd be the man to beat. Even on Sleb MM the power of the sofa of doom works its evil hex, apparently.
Mark watson scored a terrific 18 on the World Cup Finals since 1966. Stephen K. Amos, who gave support and encouragement to my son's comedy group in Edinburgh this year, so is officially a Damn Good Bloke, scored a symmetircal 5 points and 5 passes on the group 5 - Star. Lucy Porter scored a breathless 18 on Steve Martin. Dave Spikey picked the most unusual subject of all with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, on which he scored 12. Stephen K. Amos then added 10 to his score, and Dave Spikey 12 to his. Mark Watson put in what semed to be a winning GK performance with 15 to make 33. However Lucy Porter, who jokingly tried to leave the chair, saying she didn't want to spoil a nice day, scored a tremendous 17 for 35 - a sleb record for the show. Yeah, OK, so these particularly GK questions wouldn't give any of us a sleepless night, but it still takes some doing , even if you know nearly all the answers.

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