An innovation for this year’s tourney is that alternate heats are going to be hosted in Manchester. That’s nice if it saves people a journey, and its nice also for the Manchester and environs audience to get the chance to pop along too. Just a shame for those contestants who don’t get to perform in the iconic Broadcasting House, not that I should think too many are too upset about that.
On with the show. First off was Ian Cassidy. He ripped in with three answers straight off, but the Ramsey Hunt syndrome was too much for him, as it was for the others too. Stephen Masters then went one better, taking his first four, but just falling short of a full set, and it was a shipping area that did for him. Again, Fair Isle defeated all the contenders. Third contender tonight, Carolyn Pearce also managed a good three points. She guessed, as did I, that Abe Lincoln was born on the same day as Charles Darwin. She zigged with veteran cars being those made between 1919 and 1930, when she should have zagged with vintage, as Chris Wills did for a bonus. Chris, who I believe is the same Chris who has been a Countdown winner, then failed on his own first question, when he couldn’t answer who would use a swozzle. Stephen knew a Punch and Judy performer would. So at the end of the round Stephen led with 5, Ian and Carolyn both had three, and Chris one.
The scoring slowed up a little in the second round, with no contender answering more than 2 questions correctly. I liked Chris’ question about the city in modern day Turkey where “The Comedy of Errors “ is set. I remembered Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus, which gave me the answer. Stephen took a bonus. End of round 2 – Stephen led with 7, from Carolyn with 5, Ian with 4, and Chris with 2. If Ian and Stephen had found it harder to score in round two, then they found it impossible in round three. Chris managed a bonus on Ian’s music question, recognising the dulcet tones of Frank Sidebotham. Other than that, though, only Carolyn scored, a run of 4 only being ended by a Dickens question nobody could answer. So at the break for the Listener’s questions, she now led by 9 points from Stephen with 7, Ian with 4 and Chris with 3.
The Listener’s questions were to name the surnames of Ginger in Just William, and Ginger in Biggles. They were respectively , Flowerdew ( or Merrydew ) and Hebblethwaite. No, I didn’t know, and neither did the panel.
Only Stephen and Carolyn added to their score in the next round. Poor Chris was continually stuffed by his first questions, and was not, alas, to add to his score before the end. There were a couple of old chestnuts they might have had – the entrails in an ‘umble pie, for example, and the language giving us the word gingham, but I can personally vouch for the fact that it’s a lot easier to answer them at home than in the theatre. In the next round, Carolyn made what looked like a decisive move. She took a full set of five, and although Stephen and Ian took a bonus on each other’s first question, this gave Carolyn a seemingly decisive lead. She now had 16, to Stephen’s 9, Ian’s 5, and Chris’ 3.
Two more rounds remained. Neither Ian nor Stephen managed to cut seriously into the lead. Ian, to be fair, answered two of his own, and managed two bonuses, but Carolyn added three to her own score. So with one round to go she had a 10 point lead over both Ian and Stephen. With a maximum of 9 points available to either of them, she was home and dry. Still, the question remained, who would come second? Ian laid down a serious marker by taking 4 in a row. Funnily enough, that was it, no other question was answered correctly by anyone in the round, and so this saw Ian move up to second place. No doubt about the winner, though. Carolyn impressed today with a wide general knowledge, and marched confidently through to the semis. Well done.
My favourite Russell Davies moment today – when commenting that the Messalina Complex is another term for nymphomania he commented more in sorrow than in anger – I’ve never met one.
Ian Cassidy – 13
Stephen Masters – 9
Carolyn Pearce – 19
Chris Wills – 3