Well, the answer to the first question I asked myself about tonight’s show was no, there was only one recidivist rather than two. This was none other than Mike Foden. Lovers of irony and coincidence might like to reflect that Mike was beaten in his very first appearance in 2009 by Paula Keaveney, who won heat 2 a fortnight ago. In 2010 he was knocked out in round one by eventual series runner up Peter Reilly, and in 2012 by 2014 Brain of Britain Mark Grant. So I think it’s fair to say that he was overdue a little bit of the rub of the green. Still, Mike was fourth to go, so let’s have a look at the others.
Writer Sidin Sunny kicked us off with Champagne. I tutted a little knowingly when I heard that this was a subject. Back during the 2007 SOBM Tim Vick, the runner up in my heat, opted for German wines. He was served up some very long and rather obscure questions, and even granted that German wines is probably a much wider subject than champagne, it still seemed that this would be a troublesome subject. There’s no doubt that Sidin knew his stuff, either, but it was never a round that was going to allow a contender to build up a momentum, and in all honesty I thought that the 8 he scored was the least that he deserved.
The Manhatten Project hardly proved more forgiving towards second contender Graham Gowland, either. Like Sidin before him his answers proved that he really knew his stuff as well, but the nature of the questions left him just short of double figure. Again, I thought that this was a poor return for a round in which he showed considerable knowledge of his subject.
Like a majority of viewers I would imagine, I think of Tina Modotti as Tina Who? She was a photographer, apparently. Now, biographical rounds, even obscure biographical subjects, often prove to be fruitful for a contender. Certainly it enabled Lena Gazey to get into double figures – quite an achievement when in a heat where it seemed that points were proving very hard to come by. 11 points, though, made it look as if there was plenty of room for Mike to establish a lead at the halfway stage.
Mike was offering the cult TV show, “The Prisoner”. Good choice. 17 episodes, and I would imagine that there is quite a wealth of source material out there to work from. Which Mike doubtless had done, since he negotiated his way through his questions, accruing just a single pass, and taking the lead with 13. With his prior experiences of Mastermind, and his GK track record you fancied that this was probably game over as far as this heat was concerned. As for me – well – no time to wiki this week, and so I had to settle for an aggregate of 11, 5 of which had come from the Prisoner round.
IN some ways, this heat reminded me of heat 2. There were some rather long GK questions, and although the heat was calling out for someone to take the GK by the scruff of the neck. . . but I’m getting ahead of myself. Sidin was the first to return to the chair. Much like his first round, he actually supplied some good answers to his questions, but never established any kind of momentum. A total of 15 was never going to win, but nonetheless it had been hard earned. Graham Gowland could probably vouch for that. His round didn’t get off to a great start, and when that happens you start to question your own answers and to second guess. It slows you right down, and stops any chance you might have of achieving a competitive total. Graham put a brave face on it, but after adding 6 to his total he looked rather glad that his round was over.
I’ll be honest, bearing in mind Mike was yet to come, I thought that the least that Lena would need to put him into the corridor of uncertainty would be a double figures round. Well, she didn’t quite manage that. She did, though, keep the round rolling on, albeit somewhat slowly, eventually accruing 8 and 7 passes. What must Mike have felt walking to the chair, knowing that he only needed 7 to win outright, and reach the semi finals for the first time? Certainly there was a look of steely determination on his face as he began. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I think that he maybe suffered from a little nervousness, answering Big Blue rather than Deep Blue, and in mid round he became becalmed on 16. He steadied his nerves, though, recovered, and made the target with a couple to spare. He’s had better rounds and not won before, has Mike, but this was what he needed. Many congratulations, Mike, and the very best of luck in your semi.
|Sidin Sunny||Champagne||8 - 2||7 - 2||15 - 4|
|Graham Gowland||The Manhattan Project||9 - 1||6 - 4||15 - 5|
|Lena Gazey||Tina Modotti||11 - 1||8 - 7||19 - 1|
|Mike Foden||The Prisoner||13 - 1||8 - 3||21 – 6|