As has become customary, let’s cast a glance down the form guide to last night’s show.
Diane Hallagan – 28 – 3 (12)
Ewan Paton – 26 – 0 (13)
Stuart Jenkins - 25 – 2 (12)
Andrew Teale – 24 – 4 (10)
Bill Carey – 27 – 3 (12)
This line up has the added irony that of last night’s contenders, the highest scorer in the first round was actually Diane, who was the only one of these contenders not to win her heat. You may recall she was just slightly behind that fabulous score set by Ian Clark in the first round. Well, that doesn’t signify anything, since Diane has won quite a few Masterminds in her time – and going into last night’s show she was the only one of these contenders to have previously won a Mastermind semi final. Great things were expected, then. Before we start as well it was nice to see Egghead Barry Simmons in the audience as well.
Diane was first to start them This time out she was answering on the Miss Marple novels of Agatha Christie. Just taking the novels, there are, I think , about 12 of them, so that’s a hefty old chunk of material to have to learn in the kind of depth that will give you a fighting chance. I’m sure that it was a slip of the tongue that saw Diane substitute Murder in the Library for Murder in the Vicarage for the first question, but after that she hardly looked back. I’ve always said that experience in the chair is a valuable thing, and Diane gave a masterclass in how to really snap out answers to your questions. The faster you go, I’m sure, the faster that John goes, and Diane couldn’t have gone much faster. 12 correct answers off a 90 second round is a fabulous performance. Without wishing to be horrible to the other contenders, the words ‘game over’ were already going through my mind as she walked back from the chair.
Of course, it wasn’t game over. It never is during the first round, however things may appear. Second up was Ewan Paton. When I watched Ewan answering on the US Masters, and then general knowledge in the first round heat, I had the distinct impression that he was a proper, regular quizzer, and nothing about his round on the Scottish National Football team last night did anything to change that impression. It was another double figures round, with no passes, and that’s a real mark of quality in a 90 second round.
Stuart Jenkins had taken a notable scalp when he defeated Julia Hobbs in his first round heat. Julia did well enough to make it to the first semi final a couple of weeks ago, so that puts Stuart’s first round performance into some perspective. Last night he was answering on John Clare. John Clare was the so-called ‘pastoral poet’ of the 19th century, whose last decades were plagued by mental illness. Stuart scored 8, and that’s a good score off 90 seconds, as I’ve said before. However, it looked unlikely to be good enough in this show, where the standard of specialist rounds was so high.
I liked Andrew Teale’s choice of specialist subject in Henry VII. I always think that kings and queens are relatively interesting subjects, and quite doable in a few weeks. Andrew appeared in last year’s series, where he missed out on a repechage slot by a couple of passes. This year he made no mistake by winning his first round heat. Last night he whacked in an almost perfect round, just missing out on one of his last couple of questions. That gave Andrew 10 points, yet again another high quality specialist round .
Finally Bill Carey. Bill put in an exceptionally good specialist round on Brian Epstein during his first round heat. A similar round on Aubrey Beardsley in this show would do very nicely, thank you. Well, Bill did very well with his round, but not with quite as spectacular results as in the first round. He whacked in a fairly hefty 9, which would have given him a fighting chance in many a semi final. Not this one, though, one sensed.
Experience over the last couple of years tells us that you need to get into the 20s to have a fighting chance of going through to the final. Stuart was first back to the chair for his GK round, and to be fair to it he didn’t do at all badly either. 11 points were enough to put him up to 19, nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of. However, and this was crucial, the leader was on 12, and 8 in a GK round was not a requirement which would put her into the corridor of doubt. Bill followed, and he too finished with 19. Again, 10 in a semi final GK round is a good round, and again, it wasn’t enough to put Diane into the corridor of doubt.
Ewan Paton, with his GK round, again confirmed my feelings that he is a regular quizzer. Fe did what you must do, racking up as many points that are on offer to you as you can, and not accruing any passes while you go. In the context of this series, 13 is a very fine score off a two minute general knowledge round, and 23 is a score which has won several semi finals over the last few years. All he could do now was wait. Andrew followed, and I’m afraid that he didn’t have his best GK round. Although he started brightly a couple of questions caught him on the hop, and he was dragged down into a pass spiral from which only the buzzer could extricate him. Hard lines Andrew – it’s a horrible thing to happen and it could happen to any of us.
All of which meant that Diane needed 11 and no passes to draw, and 12 to win. That’s the kind of score which I’m sure that everyone who knows Diane knew was well within her capabilities. However, this didn’t make it easy. One careless slip, especially if your mind wants to keep coming back to it, can wreak havoc when you’re chasing a total like this. So just to put our minds at rest, Diane grabbed this round by the scruff of the neck, and shook the life out of it. To put it into perspective, I think that Diane reached 24 with almost 30 second still to spare. She maintained her momentum, and posted what must be regarded as a remarkable score of 15, for 27 overall. That may be beaten during the remaining semis – but I’ll be surprised if it is. Superb performance, Diane – many congratulations, and best of luck in the Grand Final.
Diane joins a very select band of people who have made it to two Grand Finals – illustrious names such as Geoff Thomas and Mark Grant being prominent in the list.
|Diane Hallagan||The Miss Marple Novels of Agatha Christie||12 – 0||15 - 0||26 - 0|
|Ewan Paton||The Scottish National Football team – 1945 - Present||10 – 0||13 - 0||23 - 0|
|Stuart Jenkins||John Clare||8 – 1||11 - 2||19 - 3|
|Andrew Teale||King Henry VII||10 – 0||7 - 6||17 - 6|
|Bill Carey||Aubrey Beardsley||9 - 1||10 - 2||19 – 3|