I am fully aware that I got it wrong last year . Mind you, when you look what Ian did in Brain of Britain I don’t think that anyone could seriously blame me for picking him as favourite for last year’s final. Still, that was then and this is now.
One factor that complicates things for me is that the semis this year were run in a different format to the heats, so comparisons between the two rounds so far may be less helpful. So bearing that in mind, lets have a look at the 6 finalists.
In previous years we have seen finals where a number of the contenders have been people who are not , by their own admission, serious quizzers, who have entered just to see how well they can do. None of our finalists this year fit that description. All of them have a quiz pedigree. So none of them can be lightly dismissed.
First to win her place in the semi final was Kathryn Johnson. Kathryn is a great quizzer, very well known and highly respected on the circuit. Hers was the pick of the performances in the first round, where she achieved the magical 30 points. Scores of 15 and 16 this year on general knowledge make her one of two players who I feel will just be too strong for the other contenders. Her aggregate GK score of 31 is higher than any other contender in the series. In fact, I have a feeling that it may come down to how Kathryn performs on specialist. If she has a lead after round one, then it will be extremely difficult for anyone to overtake her. Prediction – sorry to sit on the fence here, but champion or runner-up.
Barbara Thompson won the semi which I never got to see. Barbara is former Brain of Britain Champion, so she knows all about dealing with the pressure of a Grand final. As I say, I did not see her semi final because of the BBC messing about, but looking at her scores I have to say that I think that she may well find herself falling just a little bit short. 13 and 12 are both good GK scores, and yet you can’t help feeling that she is going to need two or three more to give herself a realistic chance of beating some fearsome competitors.The MM/BOB double is a hard one to pull off. Prediction – not on the podium
David Buckle is another seasoned TV campaigner. Like Barbara he has done well on GK in both rounds, but again, I feel he will need to find another two or three points from somewhere on GK to give him a realistic chance of holding off the biggest guns. His semi saw him improve on his first round score, and that was with a shorter specialist round, so he has the ability. Prediction – not on the podium.
Les Morrell made my week when he won his semi final. I’ve told before how we met on the day that both of our first round heats were recorded in the 2007 SOBM. So I’ll be cheering him on from the Clark sofa. I won’t be burdening him with the Clark tip, though. In another year, with a different field of finalists, Les would be up there with my favourites. However the line up this year is as gifted as I remember for many a long year. To be in with a chance Les will have to match or surpass his best GK performance from the first round in 2007. So , with regret, my head overrules my heart and predicts – possible third, yet more likely off the podium.
Mark Grant is the only one of the 6 finalists to have competed in a Mastermind Grand Final before. Mark was runner up to Pat in 2005. Can he go one better this year ? Of course he can. Yet will he ? The only thing that worries me about Mark’s chances is the inconsistency between his first round GK performance, scoring 10, and his brilliant semi performance scoring 14. There is no worry over his specialist round – he always prepares brilliantly and scores extremely highly. This means that I am confident to predict 3rd place, but make no mistake, if Mark has a flyer in GK he could win.
All of this means that if you’ve been paying attention you’ll have worked out that I believe that Jesse Honey is the other player I think most likely to win. His performance in the semi was amazing. 16 on GK equalled the best score of the series. 14 on specialist was an exceptional score for a 90 second round. 30 in total equalled the highest score of the series. To be honest, that score off 3 and a half minutes of questions is really a hall of fame score. If it wasn’t for the fact that he is facing such a formidable quizzer as Kathryn in the same show, Jesse would be my outright favourite. As it is – Prediction – Series Champion or runner up.
I could be completely wrong, of course. Any of these quizzers could win. However I think that we’re going to have to see a fantastic score in order for one of them to beat all of the others. Can’t wait !