Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Sleb Mastermind - Show 4

The last quiz show of 2013 for me to review was last night’s Celebrity Mastermind. Another comedian – Josh Widdicombe, a very fine former athlete, Katharine Merry, an actress, Sian Reese-Williams, and a TV wildlife presenter, Nick Baker. Taken as a whole group, although some of them haven’t been brilliant, comedians do tend to punch above their weight on the show. I’m sure there’s a whole research project to find out the reason why for someone, but for now let’s content ourselves with looking at how the show panned out.

First up, Josh Widdicombe elected to answer questions on Blur. Britpop kings Blur were probably about 10 years too late for me to approach this round with any confidence, and so my 5 wasn’t a bad showing. Josh ripped it to shreds though, only dropping one pass, but snapping out the answers to the ones he knew. It’s no mean feat to get into double figures on a 90 second round.

Katharine Merry was one of the most gifted athletes these shores have produced, although never one of the luckiest with injuries. She won bronze in that amazing 2000 Sydney Olympic 400m final when Cathy Freeman carried the weight of expectation of a whole country across the line with her. Answering on Aston Villa 1980-89 she managed 8 points and respectability. I will admit that I watched a lot more football in those days than I do now, but even so I was surprised to manage 6 of these myself.

Sian Reese-Williams is probably best known for her role in Emmerdale. I haven’t watched the show since Farm was part of the title, and Jamie from Doctor Who was up to his knees in it all. I did occasionally watch Black Books, which was Sian’s specialist subject. Despite that I only managed two of these, which really called for some detailed knowledge of the show. Which was exactly what Sian had as she rattled off 11 correct answers and no passes.

Nick Baker has the enviable job of BBC wildlife presenter. Now, in years gone by I was told at my first audition not to take any writers as specialist, since my job is an English teacher. I don’t know that there is anything as draconian as an outright ban on people taking subjects connected with their work, but there is an element of ‘saving you from yourself’. If you take a subject connected with your work, and you don’t do very well, then there is potentially a whole other level of embarrassment there for the contender. Nick was taking the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. This appears to me to be one of those ‘handle with care’ subjects. The questions were of the kind of level I think you should only approach a) if you are obsessed with the subject, rather than just interested – or – b) you have spent 6 weeks or more preparing for it. Nick ended up with 5. I ended up with 1 – the giveaway question about Darwin which started the round.

Was Nick a little shell shocked when he returned to the chair? Who can say? He certainly didn’t start his round very well at all, and at one stage I did fear that we were going to see a single figure combined total. Well he rallied a little in the last half minute and drove his score up to 12. 7 points on 2 minutes of GK isn’t good even in a celebrity round, but it’s ok, and that’s something. Katharine told John that she never felt nervous on the start line of a race, however important it was. She didn’t look nervous throughout her round either, although her GK was not going to allow her to force her way through to the head of the race along the home straight either. In the end she added a further 8 points to her score.

One of the questions that then remained to be answered was whether Josh Widdicombe on GK would veer more towards the Mark Watson or Chris Ramsey ends of the scale. Having seen his performances on the Comedy World Cup in 2012 I fancied that he was going to go for it seriously, which is actually what he did. 6 points were needed to go into the lead, and he did considerably better, adding 13 to finish with 24. A good round. This left Sian with a need to score 13 of her own with 2 or fewer passes to win outright, or 3 to force a tie break. Has there ever been a sleb tie break? I can’t remember one myself. Didn’t happen last night anyway. Sian answered quickly, and for the most part very well, but her GK just let her down in the middle part of the round, where the correct answers stopped coming for a while, and she fell a little behind the clock. A late rally put her close, but not close enough, and she scored 11 to finish with 22. Good show.

The Details

Josh Widdicombe The Lily FoundationBlur11 - 113 - 224 - 3
Katharine MerryRon Pickering Memorial FundAston Villa 1980 - 19908 – 18 - 516 - 6
Sian Reese-WilliamsBrain Tumour Research Support Across YorkshireBlack Books11 - 011 - 222 - 2
Nick BakerWorld Land TrustLife and Works of Alfred Russel Wallace5 – 37 - 612 - 9

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