Saturday, 27 February 2010

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 19/24

Every time Mastermind comes back after being removed from the schedule on the seemingly arbitrary whim of the controllers of BBC2 I feel less and less inclined to pass it off with a joke. I can only hope that the remaining 12 shows of this series are left unmolested to build up a decent momentum towards the final. Fat chance.

Alright, lets be thankful for small mercies. At least the show was only taken off for a week this time. Lets look at round one. John Iball began with a round which was firmly in the traditional subjects camp, on Charles Darwin. Well, if you’re going to pick an archetypal Great British Scientist, they don’t come a lot bigger than him. John made an interesting point in his filmed insert. I’d always thought that Darwin’s extreme reluctance to publish was due to his religious convictions. Apparently it had more to do with his fear of losing his social standing and his livelihood. This was a good round, where the contender had obviously done his homework, and 14 certainly put him into contention.

Elspeth Wilkes’ round saw the return of an old Mastermind favourite , the obscure Composer round. Alright, Poulenc isn’t necessarily that obscure to anyone who actually knows anything about music.Unfortunately I don’t. Poulenc is one of those names whereby on hearing it, I immediately think – Poulenc – yes – composer – check – and that’s it. Still, Elspeth Wilkes certainly knew her stuff, and she answered crisply and succinctly. Despite a mid-round wobble that saw her pick up a few passes she righted herself, and ended with 12.

In Gavin Doig’s filmed insert I was intrigued to hear him say that the focus of his round on “The History of Mountaineering on Mount Everest “ would be on the human stories, and I couldn’t help wondering whether this was just his focus, and whether the same focus would have been shared by the question setters. 11 was a good score – anything on double figures is a good score, but I can’t help wondering if he was given a good few questions outside the terms of reference he had set for himself. Out of interest, I do wonder f Mr. Doig is possibly related to the legendary Clive Doig.

The Prize for the most unusual /original subject of the night for me went to David Gordon who offered us “The Break Up of Yugoslavia”. This was a historical/political subject over a relatively short time frame, and so I thought that he could expect the setters to have done a lot of digging to prepare a set of questions, and to be fair for the most part Mr. Gordon was equal to the task of answering them. I was intrigued to find that Macedonia had altered its flag. The flag they have now is a magnificent orange and red creation, of what seems to be rays coming from a sun in the middle . For reasons I can’t explain it always reminds me of the headbands supposedly worn by Japanese kamikaze pilots in world war II.

All of which rambling brings me to the end of the SS rounds. Our contenders , all new to Mastermind, had acquitted themselves well, and only 3 points separated 1st and 4th. So whoever kept their nerve best, and performed best in GK looked like having a very good chance to at least get onto the runners up board.

Gavin Doig returned, and he struggled manfully with what I thought was a very decent round. In the end he answered 8 correctly to give him a total of 19, which looked unlikely to bring a win. Elspeth Wilkes followed. The smoothness and crispness of her answering in the first round returned, and it looked like she might possibly set a difficult target. However , and this is just my opinion – as always , feel free to disagree – I thought that her set of questions were somewhat tougher than those in the other three GK rounds. She too scored 8, to give her a slender lead, with 20.

Was this going to be one of those evenings where all four contenders posted relatively modest GK rounds ? I’d thought that David Gordon looked nervous in his SS round, leaning forward in the chair, but he’d certainly answered confidently enough. I’m afraid that he wasn’t able to produce the same level of performance in GK, and he scored 5, to give him 18. So with only John Iball to go, it looked just possible that Elspeth Wilkes could be our next lady semi finalist. I think we are due at least one or two more if statistics of recent series are anything to go by. John Iball never looked at all convincing in his round, taking his time in places, and picking up four more passes. However in the end the two points more than Elspeth which he’d scored in the SS round were enough, and he scored seven to just nudge across the line with 21 points.

This was a good show. The contenders were all evenly matched – they finished with only 3 points separating 1st and 4th, as it had been in the GK round. Congratulations to John Iball on reaching the semis.

The Details

John Iball Charles Darwin 14 – 2 7 – 4 21 - 6
Elspeth Wilkes The Life and work of Francis Poulenc 12 – 4 8 – 4 20 - 8
Gavin Doig The History of Mountaineering on Everest 11 – 1 8 – 3 19 - 4
David Gordon The Break Up of Yugoslavia 13 – 0 5 – 2 18 – 2

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

John Cooper29 – 3
Ian Scott Massie26 – 2
Les Morrell26 - 3
Colin Wilson25 - 0
Peter Cowans25 - 2
William de'Ath25 - 4


kirev said...

Beside obvious color differences, the rays are not touching the sun in the Macedonian flag. And it is always centered.


Londinius said...

Hello Kirev

No disrespect was intended to you, your country or your flag. It probably says a lot more about me than it does about the flag of Macedonia that it puts me in mind of that particular image. I didn't actually say that they were the same, or even similar, only that it made me think of it. If any offense was taken I apologise now.

Dave C.

LisaH said...

Ironically I thought Elspeth's general knowledge questions were by far the easiest- I had something like 7,11,8,8

Londinius said...

Hi Lisa

I suppose that it just goes to show the old adage about they're only difficult if you don't know the answers. As I recall I'd have just crept into double figures with Elspeth's.

Of course one's views are probably skewed by the time a contender takes to answer. For example in a round where a contender gets through 18 or 19 questions, you're more likely to answer more questions at home than in a round when the contender hesitates a lot and only gets through 14 or 15.

Unknown said...

Many thanks for this, minor celebrity status - blimey.

Just a point - the Macedonian flag was originally intended to be a replica of the image found of Philip of Macedon's casket. This was 16 pointed, with the rays of the sun tapered inwards at the end.

However, the Greek Government claimed this to be a Greek image, and forced Macedonia (or FYROM as they dismissively call it, as in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) to adopt the 8 pointed, flared ray interpretation that is the modern day flag. This took 2-3 years to resolve - part of the irrationality of nationalism. Nevertheless, as Kirov suggests, it is now adopted with some pride despite the initial controversy. Sure Kirov can say more, actually coming from there as (s)he does.

Unknown said...

I can confirm that Gavin Doig is not related to Clive Doig. I am one of his big sisters, and very proud of Gavin.