Saturday, 16 July 2016

Mastermind 2016/17: Round 1 Heat 1

Yes, I’m back. How long for? No idea, really. I’ve been such a moody sod for the last 18 months or so I don’t feel I’m in a position to make any promises. Still, let’s see how we go, shall we?

First up was Sarah Lake, a teacher we last saw in Marianne’s 2015 series. She was unlucky to find herself in a very strong heat when all of the contenders, herself included, posted double figure scores on GK. Back then she offered Leonard Cohen as specialist, this time round it was fellow Canadian singer Joni Mitchell. Now, being realistic, you need to be in contention at half time, and that means having a score of at least a dozen on GK. Sarah’s 13 certainly put her in a good position, and it’s always nice for me to see a fellow teacher doing well. Yeah, alright, I know I’m proud of being the last school teacher to win the series, but I will be perfectly happy to pass on that distinction when the time comes. Honestly. One thing which seems to be a new innovation for this series – apart from moving it to Wednesday evening (when I’m in my Art Group – grrr) -  is that the frame around the score starts going blue and the first couple of bars of the theme start playing as they come to the end of the round. Do they get to hear that in the studio? I’m not sure I’d have liked that myself. I think it’s better to pretend that the round is never going to end, so you go through the tape at top speed and don’t tail off. I think it might have broken my concentration. I’ll be interested to hear what current contenders have to say about that one.

Why haven’t I heard of Bleak Expectations before? Judging by the questions and their answers in Ian Dunn’s round it sounds exactly the sort of thing I would have liked. In fact in my undergraduate days I once wrote a thoroughgoing Dickens pastiche called The Adventures of Josiah Buttockfondle, but that is another story. Ian favoured the close your eyes and concentrate method of tackling his round, and nobody could say that it didn’t pay dividends. A score of 15 and no passes put him into a very strong position going into the GK round.

Another school teacher, Richard Aubrey, captain of OC’s the String Section, offered us something somewhat heavier in a round on Alan Turing. Maybe it’s just me, but some of his questions were so long that I’d forgotten the start of many of them by the time John had finished asking them. Richard’s 10 was a good performance, but it left him trailing leader Ian by 5, and that’s a large gap to have to bridge.

My favourite subject of the night was offered by Andrew Craig, a semifinalist in Clive’s 2014 series. In his first round back in 2014 he gave us the Military aircraft of World War 1. This time around he gave us everything that came before – to be precise, the History of Aviation to 1914. I must say I knew more about this subject than I thought, as I had 9. Not all of them were sitters either, although some of them – Kitty Hawk for example, were. That’s not Andrew’s fault, and he did just fine to score 11 and no passes.

To the GK rounds, then. Richard came first, and as an OC old boy I expected at the very least a decent round. It wasn’t a decent round. It was, in fact a very good round. 16 points is no mean feat at all, and at the very least would put the other three contenders into the corridor of doubt. Twist my arm up behind my back and force me to say my honest opinion, and I’d say that in my opinion that set of questions was one of the easier GK rounds I’ve heard, but Richard can only answer what he is asked.

Andrew then needed to match Richard’s score to take the lead. Which is exactly what he did. In fact he even did slightly better since he managed to score 16 without incurring 1 pass. Was it another gentle round? It’s all in the eye of the beholder, but yes, I thought so. At one stage I thought I might even get a full house from the comfort of my chair, but dropped a couple to end with 19 – same score as I managed on Richard’s round.

It’s only fair that Sarah Lake also had a gentle GK round. If anything this was my highest scoring round of the night, for I managed 20 on this one. Maybe she was answering more quickly than the other two, although I didn’t think so at the time. Is it too early to suggest that this looks like a conscious decision to give contenders easier GK rounds in their heats? Yes, far too early – although bearing in mind the qualification system for highest scoring runners up we can only hope that the GK rounds are of the same level across the series as a whole.

I’m not sure how long it’s been since the first three contenders in a first round heat all scored at least 15 on GK, but it will have been a while, I’ll be bound. So could Ian Dunn do the same, and at the same time secure his semi final berth? We have to be fair to all 3 contenders so far – each one had been a good enough quizzer to take advantage of the relative simplicity of their rounds, to answer what they knew quickly and make intelligent guesses where they didn’t know. Well, he managed double figures, but a couple of passes after the first half minute or so really seemed to take the wind out of his sails completely, and although he rallied in the last minute he was clearly behind the clock, and finished with 26.

Thoroughly enjoyed this, and I’m looking forward to next Wednesday’s. Well played all.

The Details

Sarah Lake
Joni Mitchell
Ian Dunn
Bleak Expectations
Richard Aubrey
Alan Turing
Andrew Craig
The History of Aviation up to 1914

9 comments: said...

Wednesday nights - what are the BBC thinking ? *tuts sadly*

Ian F said...

I can tell you they don't get to hear the countdown music in the studio, mercifully. It was distracting enough as a viewer.

Welcome back!

dxdtdemon said...

There are rumors online that the Wednesday thing was due to the Open Championship, and that they're just going to do Wednesdays until the Olympics, and would probably go back to Fridays afterward.

Martin said...

Seconding the 'Welcome Back' here. Always love your commentary, and in particular it's great when I see a contestant and have that nagging 'looks familiar' feeling, which is then totally explained by your diligent cross-referencing with OC!

And what a good episode. However, I'm not sure about the countdown at the end of the round. Frankly. I can see it being quietly dropped, as it spoils some of the suspense.

Addy said...

Glad to see you back! And I'm clearly not alone :)

Very good episode, the gauntlet clearly laid down already with 4 26s and a 15 on specialist.

Looking forward to more of the same! The show - and this blog - has been missed!

mawnanman said...

Having seen last week's episode (how impressive was that!) and being due for recording last Friday, I was concerned about the superfluous countdown music. However, I can confirm that (thank goodness) it's not heard in the studio. Regarding screening times, we were told that Mastermind is a bit of a poor relation in the scheduling and it will be off screen during the Olympics, returning thereafter on Friday nights.

Londinius said...

Hi Rod,

Yes, I'm afraid that the revived series has, certainly for the last decade or so, been in the Beeb's view something to be moved with impunity, because the loyal audience would catch up with it wherever and whenever it was put. The 2006 series, in which I made a short lived debut, had a d round hiatus in the first round of several weeks to accommodate the World Cup. MY final in 2007 was filmed on my birthday in June 2007, and not shone until the end of March 2008. That's the way it is, I'm afraid to say.

Paul Gilbert said...

Nice to see this blog back!

One thing I have noticed is that, with the exception of 2008-09, the first heat has been a high-scoring one relative to the other heats. This was especially true in the period 2011-14:

Series - Average Heat 1 Score - Average Heat Score
2003 - 23.75 - 21.08
2004 - 20.5 - 20.17
2005 - 27.75 - 20.67
2006 - 20 - 18.15
2007-08 - 25.75 - 21.41
2008-09 - 21.5 - 22.05
2009-10 - 23.25 - 20.98
2010-11 - 27 - 23.84
2011-12 - 29 - 23.29
2012-13 - 27.75 - 23.61
2013-14 - 27.25 - 23.08
2014-15 - 26.75 - 21.42
2015-16 - 23.5 - 21.07

Gavin Tillman said...

Welcome back! I do enjoy reading your blog. I'd love it if you resumed podcasting...