Friday, 28 May 2010

Mastermind Grand Final

Well, without lapsing into hyperbole, I think its fair to say that tonight’s show was probably the most eagerly awaited final for many a long year. 6 quizzers with a proven broadcast track record, duking it out in Mastermind’s answer to that old World Cup favourite, the Group of Death.

David Buckle had picked the cherry plum of what looked like the best outing for the filmed insert. In previous rounds he had taken Gerry Anderson, and the Jeeves and Wooster novels. For the Grand Final it was Hollywood in the 1980s, which necessitated a visit to what looked like Universal Studios. I have to be honest, I did think that this looked like one of those deceptively wide subjects, but David still managed to post a very respectable 13.

Second to take to the chair tonight was LAM joint favourite Kathryn Johnson. Kathryn had offered us Victorian and Edwardian Poisoners, then the Lord Peter Wimsey novels in previous rounds. She claimed that her choice of The Granddaughters of Queen Victoria had been the result of desperation rather than inspiration. Well, it resulted in a trip to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight for her film, so it can’t have been all bad. For a supposedly desperate choice Kathryn put on a bravura performance, and scored 16. Game on.

Our second joint favourite of the evening, Jesse Honey, was answering on Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. In previous rounds he had answered on the London Borough of Wandsworth, and The Life and Work of Antoni Gaudi. Jesse made his film – well , where else other than in the cathedral ? He explained how he had jumped on a train immediately after his semi final, and walked around taking pictures, determined to leave no cathedral stone unturned. It worked, too. 18 is a massive score at any time. In a grand final its magnificent.

Barbara Thompson , former Brain of Britain champion, whose previous subjects were British Female Cabinet Ministers and Ealing Studios, was answering on the English County Cricket Championship from 1960, and was filmed, appropriately enough, at a cricket ground. You couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for her, since I don’t know when they made the film, but it looked freezing to me. Barbara gave it a good old go, and at the end of the round she’d scored 10.

Les Morrell, seen earlier this week in The Chase, had answered on Clement Atlee and Ever Decreasing Circles. Speaking to us from the picturesque surroundings of the Beamish Open Air Museum , Les told us all about his specialist subject, The General Strike of 1926, and very interesting it was too. He knew his stuff, did Les, as was confirmed by a fine performance to score 16.

Last week in my preview of the final I made the point that double Grand Finalist Mark Grant always prepares brilliantly for his specialist subjects, a point proven by great scores on previous rounds on Manet and Bernini. Tonight he offered what looked like a dangerously wide subject in the shape of Venetian Opera. Mark, who had drawn second prize in the filmed insert lottery, explained how he came to apply for the show, with the splendour of La Serenissima in the background. I needn’t have worried about the width of the subject. Mark proved more than equal to the task with a splendid 17.

Barbara returned to the chair. To be honest she looked a little shellshocked at all of the heavy artillery coming from the other contenders in the first round. She battled grittily through the round, but it wasn’t her best GK performance of the series. She scored 9 to take her total to 19. David Buckle followed. He too couldn’t match his previous GK score, and also scored 9, to shift the bar up to 22 points.

My joint favourite , Kathryn , returned to the chair. Here’s a thought. Who would have predicted that with a score of 16 she would be the third person to go in the last round ? Kathryn and Jesse have been the two outstanding GK performers of the whole series, and tonight was no different, as Kathryn delivered a super 16, to take her score to 32. Lets just pause and consider that for a minute. 32 would have won the finals of 2003, 4, 7 and 8. Only Pat Gibson and Geoff Thomas had ever scored more highly than that in a Humphrys era final.

However, we were only halfway through the final round at this stage, and the clinically obese female personage had not even begun to warm up her vocal chords, to coin a phrase. Following Kathryn into the chair was Les Morrell. Les had a tough round, make no mistake about it, but managed to put himself into second place with only 2 more contenders to go, with a final total of 23.

With a one point advantage over Kathryn in the first round, Mark needed to equal her score to go into the outright lead without resorting to a pass countback. He maybe didn’t quite manage that, but his 13 looked like a pretty good round from the Clark sofa. 30 points gave him second place, with one to play, so he was guaranteed a podium place whatever happened.

Step forward Mr. Jesse Honey. What followed in the next two minutes was a GK round the like of which has rarely been seen throughout the Humphrys era. Speed, calmness, great knowledge, and the ability to guess correctly on just one or two questions landed Jesse a monster of a score, 19 points, for a winning total of 37. Just think for a minute. That is a new record score for the John Humphrys era, beating the 36 scored in the 2006 series by the great Geoff Thomas. My heart goes out to Kathryn, for in most other years she would have been champion, but you can only wonder at such a breath taking performance as Jesse’s. Nancy Dickmann handed over the trophy to the new champion, and I wonder if the same thought crossed her mind as crossed mine – Thank Heaven he wasn’t around in MY series ! Seriously, many , many congratulations to Jesse, who is a smashing guy, and also to all of the other finalists, who played their part in as memorable a final as we’ve had for a long time.

Me with the new Champion

Very well done to Jon Kelly, and everyone who worked on the series this year. Its been hugely entertaining and enjoyable – I can’t wait for next year.

The Details

David Buckle Hollywood in the 1980s13 - 19 - 222 - 3
Kathryn JohnsonThe Granddaughters of Queen Victoria16 - 016 - 232 - 2
Jesse HoneyLiverpool Anglican Cathedral18 - 019 - 137 - 1
Barbara ThompsonEnglish County Cricket Championship from 196010 - 49 - 319 - 7
Les MorrellThe General Strike of 192616 - 17 - 423 - 5
Mark GrantVenetian Opera17 - 013 - 030 – 0


Rach Cherryade said...

An absolutely amazing final, everyone did brilliantly, but 37 is a truly extraordinary score!

Thanks for all the great reviews of this series, it's been a great series from beginning to end.

All the best,

Londinius said...

Hi Rach,

No thanks are necessary, although they are very welcome. Mastermind is a labour of love for me. You're right, its been another great series, all the better for the filmed inserts, I think, and what a final ! If you can't get excited about a show like that, then I think you're probably reading the blog by mistake.

Keep in touch !


Unknown said...

'Thank Heaven he wasn’t around in MY series!' - you know, that's exactly what I said to Duncan just before leaving the audience to present the trophy! And the same went for Kathryn and Mark as well - a really riveting grand final.

Was really nice to meet you in person last week; I had been hoping our paths would cross eventually. Keep up the good work with the blog!


Londinius said...

Hi Nancy

It was lovely to meet you as well. I had a GREAT day last Thursday, and I hope that you enjoyed it as well - I had really hoped that you'd be there too.

Thanks for your as-ever - encouraging words about the blog.

Best regards


Unknown said...

I found this blog a bit late but first of all thank you for the kind comments about my performances. Nervous...yes. Did I enjoy the experience? Very much so. I always wondered what it would be like and now I know. It was great fun and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. It was a great final which topped off a memorable series (maybe a touch of bias there seeing as I was in it). One thing - I wonder if they did record the Humphry's spider eating episode. And, of course, congrats to the production staff, the floor staff and the question setters - thta last can't be an easy job but I certainly have no complaints about them