Friday, 22 September 2017

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 8

I would like to thank all 4 of last night’s contenders. I’ve had a good week at work, but an extremely busy one, and last night’s contest was just what I wanted to see after a week of honest toil.

First up was Terence Saunders. Last time out for Terence was in Clive’s 2014 season, when he was beaten into second in his heat by a single point. Last night Terence was offering a good traditional MM subject in the shape of the Lives and Comic Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Here’s an interesting point. Mr. Saunders is a free lance musician, and therefore you could argue he was taking a subject which impinges on his work. Over a decade ago I was told that I couldn’t use the life and work of WM Thackeray as a subject because I am an English teacher. Not that I’m complaining mind you. Who knows, maybe the policy has changed since? Whatever the case, Terence was looking at a perfect round right up to the last question, where he offered an answer scant moments before the correct answer came to his lips. Nonetheless, 13 is a serious SS score nowadays.

Jonathan Wright, a Mastermind virgin as far as I know, offered a subject which I came close to choosing for Champion of Champions. In fact, I would have done had it not been for the fact that a contender in the regular series that year was doing it. I have also written a quiz book - still available on your kindle - on the subject. So I think it’s fair to say that I know enough about the Tour de France to say that the questions in this round, well, they weren’t all gimmes, but only a couple of them were at all testing. Jonathan dropped a couple that I thought he might have had. Nonetheless, he managed 1 more than I did. At least this meant that, together with my 2 points from Gilbert and Sullivan, I had already scored more on SS than I did in the whole of last week’s show. 

Our second recidivist of the evening was Andrew Teale. I believe that Andrew joins a relatively select band who have appeared in 4 series. We saw Andrew in 2010, the 2014 series, and Marianne’s 2015 series where he reached the semis. His subject this time was Thomas Becket. Now, I feared a little for Andrew when he seemed so keyed up for battle at the start of his round that he leapt in with an answer he realised was wrong halfway through saying it. He rallied from that early setback, but from my own knowledge of Becket I think he had a few stinkers. I had 4 to go to 17, and Andrew had 9. That left him 4 points behind the leader and facing an uphill battle in the GK.

Coronation Street since 2000 might strike some people as a ‘soft subject’. Apologies for using the vernacular, but that’s a load of old cobblers. Just think how many episodes there have been in that time, and no, I don’t know the answer to that. Ailsa Watson probably does though. I can’t really comment on the level of the questions, since I don’t know enough about it – I haven’t been a regular Corrie watcher since the days of Elsie Tanner and Hilda Ogden. Nonetheless, 10 and 1 pass looked like a pretty decent return. I was pleased to pick up three pieces of low hanging fruit to give me a respectable aggregate of 20 for the specialists. 

Andrew was first to return for the GK round. I didn’t honestly think that he had the greatest start to the round, as he missed several which I think he might well have had on another day. Nonetheless, he picked up momentum as the round continued, and by the end he’d added 14 to his total. He didn’t look all that happy about it as he rose from the chair, but let’s make no bones about it, he’d at least done enough to open the door to the corridor of doubt for the opposition.

If Ailsa Watson was in any doubt, though, she didn’t show it. She needed 13 to go into the lead, and that’s a serious target. Yet from the moment she answered her first question correctly she never looked like she was in any danger at all. I shan’t beat about the bush. Alsa produced a round out of the absolute top draw, and as the round ended, with her scoring a magnificent 18 points, I couldn’t stop myself from standing up and applauding the television. Ailsa, that was fantastic, and an absolute pleasure to watch. 

The great danger now, was that everything that followed would be an anti climax. Ailsa’s round was of a ‘blowing the rest of the opposition away’ stature. So it is to Jonathan Wright’s great credit that he smiled as John reminded him of the size of his task, and then set about it with gusto. He needed 16 and no more than 1 pass to take the lead, and blimey, he gave it a good lash. He fell slightly short, though, scoring 15 and no passes. As John would later point out, in this series it surely gives him a very good chance of a semi final slot of his own. 

Terence Saunders needed 15 and no more than 1 pass to win. In his last appearance he did actually score 15, as it was his SS that cost him a chance of a win. It did look like he might do it as well, for the first minute. A pass, though, seemed to take all the wind out of his sails. Several followed in quick succession. Mastermind can be a cruel mistress sometimes – in the space of just a few questions you can go from fighting for a win to fighting to avoid last place. Sadly for Terence, this was a losing struggle. He laughed though, and showed admirable good humour as John announced his score of 22.

What a show. This is what I’ve been waiting for all series. All 4 contenders acquitted themselves well. Hard lines to Andrew – sometimes it is just not your night, and when that’s the case then there is nothing you can do about it. Well done to Jonathan, and I hope you make it to the semis – you deserve to for that performance. But many, many congratulations to Ailsa. If you can repeat that level of GK performance, then you are a serious contender, in fact, a very serious contender indeed. Good luck in the semis.

The Details

Terence Saunders
The Lives and Comic Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan
Jonathan Wright
The History of the Tour de France
Andrew Teale
Thomas Becket
Ailsa Watson
Coronation Street Since 2000


Paul Gilbert said...

Andrew Teale may well have had a feeling of deja vu on last night's show - when he appeared in 2013-14, one of the other specialist subjects (taken by heat winner Jon Jacob) was The Life & Work Of Sir Arthur Sullivan!

dxdtdemon said...

Didn't Ailsa win a recent series of Fifteen-to-One?

ailsa said...

Hi - just remembered about your blog and thought I'd check out what you had to say about this series. Thank you so much for your kind words - it was a very lucky set of GK questions for me. I'm really regretting the Coronation Street thing with hindsight - so many episodes, no repeats, no box sets to binge on and still a boatload of people crowing on social media about how it's an "easy" subject. A question on a dog who was a minor plot point for maybe half a dozen episodes 15 years ago showed the real madness of what I'd let myself in for. A discrete set of novels up next!

And yes, I won series 4 of the Sandi Toksvig era Fifteen to One revival.