Saturday, 22 February 2014

Brain of Britain - Heat 11

Believe it or not, I do actually love Brain of Britain, and had a great time when I participated in the 2009/10 series. I know that I’ve moaned a bit during this series, but the nature of the show is that there might only be seven or eight questions you don’t know in the whole show, but if those are your 7 or 8 starters, then you’re going to struggle. Now, I don’t know whether in each show there is a stock of questions, which are going to be asked in the same order, which means it’s pure blind luck as to whether you get easy or rock hard starters, or whether each contestant has a distinct set of their own for each round. If it’s the former, then it is just a question of pure blind luck as to what you get. If it’s the latter, though, I do think that there are occasions when contestants are unkindly served, to say the least, when you compare the level of difficulty of the starters they are asked, with the level of difficulty of starters that other contestants are asked. If any dear reader knows for certain whether there are distinct sets for each contestant, or whether there is just one stock of questions, I’d be interested to hear.

Well, enough of such things for now. On Monday, the four brave entrants to the lists were
Dr. Alison Hardie
David Hatton
Andrew Hunter
Peter Spicer

None known to me personally, but as I often say, that doesn’t really mean anything.

Alison kicked off with two correct answer, but didn’t know Christmas cactus. Me neither. David Hatton had the bonus. He took his own first three, but missed the relatively simple ultrasound for his fourth, thus giving Alison back the bonus he had taken earlier. Andrew Hunter got off the mark and took three, but didn’t know that the Gal – named after Galileo – is a measure of acceleration. Nobody knew that, and neither did I. Peter finished the round off but didn’t know that Richard Eyre wrote National Service. Not easy that, and nobody else had it. That was a good first round, with the first three contenders all showing good knowledge, as Andre and Alison both had 3, and David 4.

Alison was undone, as many contestants on BoB are, by a straightforward sports question. Not one of them knew that Alun Wyn Jones captained the 2013 Lions in the 3rd test after Tour captain Sam Warburton was injured. Ask it down your local, and you’ll have the correct answer coming at you from all sides. David didn’t know that Malta was given to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in return for an annual gift of a Falcon. Not easy. Andrew Hunter probably should have known the old chestnut that the story The Tin Star was the basis of the film High Noon. Peter Spicer took that bonus to get his own score moving. He got another one of those starters that you’re not going to actually know, but have a chance of guessing. He guessed that the last ever cavalry charge in a genuine war happened in World War 1 – Andrew had it for World War 2. So after the high scores of round one, only small gains were made by anyone in the second. On into the third, and Alison pushed her score on by one. She didn’t know that Ethelred II The Unready levied the Danegeld. Andrew had that. David didn’t know seersucker cloth, and that went to Alison for a bonus. Andrew didn’t know that a group of named museums were all in Las Vegas. Tricky. Peter missed his first, which went for a bonus to Andrew, who named the NUM as an organization that no sensible man ever challenges.

Round Four saw Alison add another one of her own questions, but it fell to Andrew Hunter to answer that the Shah Jehan mosque is in Woking. David probably should have know that the band he was ab out to hear was Mott the Hoople having been told that Ian Hunter was the lead singer, but as much as sport catches a lot of BoB contestants out, so does popular culture. Peter took that bonus. Andrew took his first, but was tripped up by a sporting chestnut, so it fell to Peter to identify Walker Smith as the real name of the great Sugar Ray Robinson. For his own set he took his first, but Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy just eluded him. Nobody had it. So on the cusp of the interval, Andrew led with 8 to Alison’s 6.

The Beat the Brains interval the first question was – Michael Caine has twice appeared in remakes of films he had starred in first time around. Get Carter was one – which was the other? The Brains had it with Sleuth – great answer. The second question was that there are three films in which every named cast member was nominated for an acting Oscar. Now, I knew that Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Was one of the others – so would have had it, and so did the team. The other was called ‘Give em Hell, Harry’. No, me neither.

Back to the contest. Andrew and Alison were both looking good for either the win, or even a repechage place. Alison made decent progress with two, but maybe might have known that Anne of Austria was the mother of Louis 14th. Nobody had it. David didn’t know that it was the film version of the Taming of the Shrew that contained the screen credit – with additional dialogue by Sam Taylor. Nobody had it. Andrew was undone by Tristan and Isolde for his first. Peter took one, but didn’t know that eschatology is the branch of theology dealing with last things. Alison had it to complete a very good round which took her to ten points. In the next round she missed her first on islands in the Galapagos. David didn’t know that Mount Ossa is the highest peak on Tasmania. Alison had that, and it must have been a guess, because she couldn’t help laughing afterwards. Andrew didn’t know his first on the carob tree, and nobody had a bonus. He hadn’t scored a point since the break, and after looking good throughout the first part of the contest was in danger of being left behind now. Peter should maybe have known that Mustang Sally was recorded by Wilson Pickett. Popular culture caught out all of the brains again.

Alison didn’t know the study of molluscs. Not surprised. David managed to get his score moving again by taking his first, and Andrew had a bonus on the gall bladder. Andrew didn’t know that Ulysses is set on June 16th. Peter didn’t know that the brightest asteroid is Vesta. Old quiz chestnut there. Alison led by 11 to 9, as we went into the last round. For her set her heart must have sank when the words ‘Brian Clough’ were uttered. She didn’t know that he was playing for Sunderland when his knee was injured. David had it. I guessed the next poem was Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, but David didn’t, giving Peter a bonus. I guessed Andrew’s on the dog Laika – which gave Alison a bonus, and the win. Peter was asked for GB’s first 2012 gold medallist, giving David a bonus with Lizzie Armistead. The final scores were: -

Alison Hardie - 12
David Hatton - 7
Andrew Hunter - 9
Peter Spicer - 7

Congratulations to Alison – she was the pick of the contestants in this show, I think it’s fair to say, and deserved to win.


Stephen Follows said...

'Now, I don’t know whether in each show there is a stock of questions, which are going to be asked in the same order, which means it’s pure blind luck as to whether you get easy or rock hard starters, or whether each contestant has a distinct set of their own for each round.'

Hi David,

It's the former - one long list of questions, so that the only one that is ever 'targeted' at a particular contestant is the very first of the whole show (and even that one is the result of the luck of the alphabet). The rest of it is entirely down to luck, as you say.

Stephen Follows said...

And just to clarify, when I said 'targeted', I didn't mean that the first question is chosen especially for (eg.) Alison Hardie, as that would clearly be unfair. It's as randomly chosen as the rest, but it's the only one whose destination is known in advance.