Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Sleb Mastermind - Show 6

Robert Webb has certainly been seen more on his own in these last few months than previously. I mean, you normally can’t get David Mitchell off the box, but Robert has been a little more selective. The specialist subject he selected for the show was the novels of Ian McEwan. I’m aware of his work obviously, but never having read any myself I was unable to garner a single point, which was the cause of much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the Clark sofa. Robert on the other hand did much better, and despite a sticky patch – that’s in the middle of his round, not on my sofa – managed 9.

Second up was Helen Skelton, whom I am ashamed to say that I did not immediately recognise as the Blue Peter presenter who canoed along the Amazon. A person of determination and nerve then, two qualities which can take you a long way in the black chair. Answering questions on Debbie Harry and Blondie even allowed me to get a couple right – I knew the title of Debbie Harry’s first solo album for example. Ah, Debbie Harry . . . Sorry, I was miles away there. A terrific round with only one pass marring an otherwise splendid 17 points.

Now, Sir Clive Sinclair is, I am sure, a very clever man, who unfortunately has been lumbered with the public perception that he is, in fact, a bit of a berk, due to the failure of his C5 electric pedal car. What better way to remind everyone how smart you are than to appear on Sleb Mastermind ? Only its not very smart to take a wide, catch – all subject such as british inventions. Its even less smart to do so and then not really go to town learning your subject. Poor old Sir Clive really just didn’t know his stuff, I’m afraid, and I would imagine that most quizzers sitting at home will have known a good half dozen or so old chestnuts – like Sir Tim Berners Lee was at CERN when he came up with the world wide web, and that ACV stands for Air Cushioned Vehicle. There were others like these which he didn’t get. Sir Clive levelled out at 4 points.

Finally actor Stephen Mangan, offering probably my banker subject for the night, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Very well he did too. I was pretty good on the questions about the first 4 books, although I couldn’t name the keeper of the Total Perspective Vortex, but struggled on questions about Mostly Harmless, my least favourite of the 5 part trilogy ( don’t ask ) . Stephen though scored an excellent 15 on them, and believe me, it needed a really detailed knowledge of those books to achieve that.

So, back to the chair for Sir Clive. To lift himself off the bottom he needed to score 6, and he managed that. To beat Stephen’s first round 15 for second place, though, he needed 12, and that he couldn’t manage. He gave a little too much thought to the easier answers, and really ran out of time before he had built up any head of speed. Fair play to the man, he was only doing it for charity, but 13 overall is the least impressive score we’ve seen this series, I’m afraid.

Robert Webb added another 12 to his total to lift himself comfortably into the orbit of respectability. Stephen then put on the best GK round of the night, maintaining concentration well to do what you must do – have a guess at what you don’t know, but answer what you do know correctly and quickly. He put on 14 to set the bar at 29. Well, we’ve already seen that being exceeded several times this series, but nonetheless it is not to be done easily. Certainly Helen didn’t find it so. She maintained her good humour throughout, but it was fairly obvious that she wasn’t going to get there from before the 1 minute mark, and in the end she scored 8 to take her total to 25.

Was I wrong, or did Stephen Mangan describe his trophy as ‘perspex’ ? Naughty boy ! I’m pretty sure that like the iconic bowls presented to the series winners, these are handmade pieces of glassware by Dennis Mann.

The Details

Robert Webb Novels of Ian McEwan Medical Foundation For Care of Victims of Torture9-212 - 121 – 3
Helen SkeltonDebbie Harry and BlondieEden Valley Hospice 17 - 18 - 4 25 – 5
Sir Clive SinclairInventions since 1940Big Issue Charity4 - 7 9 - 813 – 15
Stephen ManganThe Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Marie Curie Cancer Care15 - 214 - 229 – 4


Andrew B. said...

6-part trilogy now: "And Another Thing..." by Eoin Colfer being the 6th part.

Ewan M said...

Having just watched most of the celeb Masterminds back to back on iPlayer there seems to be a huge disparity between the difficulty of the specialist subject rounds. As you rightly point out Stephen Mangan had to know his stuff on THGTTG to accumulate 14 points and, notwithstanding the quizzing chestnuts contained within his round - we can safely assume he's not a regular quizzer, Sir Clive had a very broad range of moderately testing questions to answer (admittedly no plea in mitigation can be offered for his poor GK round), but after being forced by my 7 year-old daughter to sit through half of Back to the Future 2 and all of Back to the Future 3 on tv over the festive period (I've seen the original many years ago) I found myself sufficiently equipped to score 13 points on Dean Macey's specialist subject (missing at least one gimme in the process), a series of films for which I have no particular interest or affinity. It's kind of fun sitting at home rattling off the answers to the relatively undemanding GK questions in this series (not to mention knowing a few on most of the specialist subjects) and it's clearly just a bit of fun, but you'd assume they would at least aim for a slightly more challenging test (of roughly equivalent levels of difficulty) on the specialist subjects. If the subject is narrow, like the BTTF trilogy, you'd expect them to dig a bit deeper than "Who directed all 3 movies in the series?" Even Dean seemed stunned to be asked "Which actor played the role of Marty McFly?" Then again, with "Back to the Future" I guess there isn't an awful lot of depth to explore..

Des Elmes said...

No disrespect whatsoever to Sir Clive, but his fifteen passes must almost be a record for celeb Mastermind - and probably almost a record for the Humphrys Era too.

Londinius said...

Hi Guys

Sorry Andrew - I forgot about the Eoin Colfer book - possibly because I haven't read it.

Hi eugene - I do tend to agree about the disparity between the specialist rounds. I think I've already mentioned Pam Rhodes' round on Christmas carols, for example.

Hi Des - my records only cover this series of the Sleb show, and the last two seasons. Last year Diane Louise Jordan had 14 passes. The year before Andrew Neil had 11. Still, there are a couple of shows of this series still to go, so you never know . . .