Tonight gave us our second chance to have a look at the ninety second specialist round format. Last week it didn’t make any material difference to the show – I think any of the viewers would have to agree that Kathryn was a very comfortable winner. So how did it pan out tonight ?
First to go was Valerie Roebuck. Valerie won heat 18 back in the middle of February, with 24, one of the more modest winning scores of the first round. Back then she answered on Tolkien, tonight it was a case of –and now for something completely different, as she answered on Sir Walter Raleigh. I’m still coming to terms with the 90 second round, so I’m not sure if 12 is just very good, or better than that. Whatever the case, this is what she managed to score to get the show off to a fine start.
Tonight’s high scoring runner up from the first round was my friend and compatriot from the 2007 SOBM, Les Morrell. Way, way back in September of last year we saw Les come runner up in Heat 3 to Ian Orris, who has yet to go in this stage of the competition. Les answered on Clement Atlee in September, while tonight he answered on the TV sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles. Its funny how some popular series stay in the memory, and some don’t. Even though it was extremely popular in its day, its somehow missed joining the ranks of classic, often repeated shows. Well, anyway, I quite often use the adjective virtuoso to describe performances on the show, but this round really deserved it. 15 points is a great total for a 2 minute round. For a 90 second round it’s a real hall of fame performance.
Michael McPartland we last saw a fortnight ago when he won the last heat of the first round. That night he answered questions on the Nuremburg trials. Continuing this commendable trend of picking completely different subjects tonight he took the Sharpe novels of Bernard Cornwell. Any fears that he might be daunted by having to follow Les Morrell’s quicksilver round were pretty quickly dispelled, and 13 put him well into contention, a highly commendable performance in its own right.
I expected Kevin Quinn, our next contender, to manage something similar in his own specialist round, going by the evidence of his first round performance. His victory in heat 21 back in the beginning of March was based on a superb specialist round on the career of Lester Piggott. Tonight his subject was british hit singles of the 1960s. My expectations turned to fear for him as he failed within the first couple of questions to identify Joe Meek as the producer of Telstar, by the Tornados. Yes, I know that you wouldn’t expect the average man in the street to know that, but the average man in the street wouldn’t take it as a specialist subject in Mastermind. I'm sorry to say it, but I thought several of the other questions he got wrong were gettable as well. I can't say why Mr. Quinn didn’t do as well as expected, whether it was nerves or something else, but I’m sure he’ll have been disappointed.
Andrew Warmington , like Les, has previous, having reached the semi finals back in 2004. When he won heat 7 , back in October, he answered on Ancient Greece, and impressed with 14 on both rounds. On paper, he was the most impressive qualifier for tonight’s semi. For his specialist subject tonight he offered us The Life and reign of Henry VIII. Like Les his answers were as brief as possible, and offered quickly. Or to put it another way, he answered like a good old hand. A couple of the questions that were more to do with the reign than the life caught him out, but once again, 13 was impressive.
Kevin Quinn returned to the chair, seeking redemption, and found it with a competent 10, to push his score up to 16. OK, so he only had a lead of 1 now, and he wasn’t going to win, but he had achieved respectability, and whatever else, he is a semi finalist, and you can never take that away from him. He was followed by Valerie Roebuck, who might well have been forgiven for thinking that her 12 on specialist would have put her higher than 4th at the halfway stage. She put on a good show in this round. Things change in the semis – it gets tougher, and 11 is not to be sniffed at. In my heart of hearts I felt sure that Les, Michael or Andrew would improve on her 23, but it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.
Michael was the first to have a try. He started confidently enough, but the going got tougher for him in the second minute, or that’s how it appeared, anyway. He got close, but didn’t quite manage to make it into double figures, and ended with 22. Andrew had scored 14 on GK in the heats, and something of this sort would really give him a chance of that coveted place in the grand final. He never looked convincing this time out, though. It can happen. Sometimes the questions just don’t run for you. I thought that all of the sets of GK were pretty much of the same level of difficulty tonight, but they just didn’t seem to suit. He scored 8 to finish with 21.
So the question remained – were we going to see Valerie Roebuck join Kathryn Johnson in the Grand Final ? Well, the odds looked against it as Les took his place in the chair, needing 8 and 1 pass, or better, to win the show. He never looked in any real difficulty, and put on the best GK performance of the night, scoring 12 and 1 pass to go through, with a fine score of 27.
Hard lines to all of the other contenders, but well played for making it to the semis. As for Les, I am absolutely delighted ! Les was very unfortunate in the 2007 SOBM to be in the same semi final as 2 contenders who had scored 30 or more in their heats, and another who won the semi with the second highest score of the whole series. Many, many congratulations, Les ! Good luck for the final !
|Valerie Roebuck||Sir Walter Raleigh||12 - 0||11 - 3||23 – 3|
|Les Morrell||The TV series Ever Decreasing Circles||15 – 1||12 – 1||27 – 2|
|Michael McPartland||The Sharpe novels of Bernard Cornwell||13 – 0||9 - 2||22 – 2|
|Kevin Quinn||British chart hit singles of the 1960s||6 - 2||10 - 3||16 – 3|
|Andrew Warmington||The Life and Reign of Henry VIII||13 - 0||8 - 4||21 – 4|