Friday, 6 September 2019

Mastermind 2020 - First Round Heat 5

Good morning, dearly beloved. If, like me, you live in the BBC Wales area you were treated to the delights of premiership rugby instead of Mastermind, but that’s what the iplayer is for.

First up, then, in heat 5 was John Larkin. John’s subject was the islands of Great Britain. That’s one of those subjects where the scale of the subject is a lot broader than you might think, being as there are over 6000 of them, and over 100 are inhabited. While John was answering, I got the impression that he was very sound on the purely Geographic questions, but this round was far more wide ranging than that, with questions about local customs, and who was buried on which island etc. which threw him off balance a bit. He battled to a 7, but it looked like he would be out of contention by the time that the half time oranges were being passed around.

Going into the show, my current record specialist aggregate for this series is 23. A score of 8 on the islands promised good things, however my knowledge of Tamsen Hiles’ subject, The Pop Larkin Chronicles, is limited to a couple of episodes of the TV series The Darling Buds of May. That, and a couple of good guesses, brought me three points, which was enough to keep the pot boiling. Tamsen all the while looked as if she was going to take a full house. Well, she didn’t quite manage that, but it was still a speedy and very impressive round which brought a total of 13.

One reason why I thought I had a good chance to set a new target was that our third contender, Nathan McLelland, was answering on “Doctor Who “ 2005 – present. No bones about it, I love Doctor Who, have watched every episode of the post 2005 series more than once, and have written books about it. So it really is something of a banker subject. Nathan himself did very well. He only missed two questions, although he might be kicking himself for not remembering that Roger Lloyd Pack played John Lumic. I added 12 to mean that ‘d equalled the target with one specialist set to spare.

This set, on The League of Gentlemen, fell to Paul Gurrell. Now, to be honest, I liked the radio series , but never really warmed to the TV version, although I know people who absolutely loved it. So I had to be fairly satisfied with the 4 points I earned to set the new target of 27. Paul was very unlucky. John seemed to have just started voicing what was presumably the next question as the buzzer went, and the ruling was that he hadn’t actually started the question proper. It didn’t, in the end, make a huge difference to the result, but Paul can count himself a bit unlucky there. He scored a highly respectable 10.

So to the General Knowledge. Now, usually, when the contender in 4th does his or her GK round, it is a little bit of a side show to the main event. Not so with John Larkin. After John’s irritating plenty of time to catch up call to arms, John provided one of the two best GK rounds we’ve seen all series so far. This was, to my mind, a quizzer’s round. 14 took him to 21, and at least did enough to put the others into the corridor of doubt.

Paul Gurrell again put on a respectable performance in his own round, and for much of the round looked as if he was going to at least match John’s total of 21. However he ran out of a little bit of momentum as the tape came into view, and fell one short, scoring 10 to take his total to 20.

As for Nathan, he started very well, and was ahead of schedule by the halfway mark of his round. However the wrong answers began to outnumber the correct answers, and in the end he finished with 8 to take his total to 19.

So, as Tamsen returned to the chair, the big question was, could John hang on and win the contest from 4th at the halfway stage. We have seen it happen before, but it’s rare. Once again, we had a contender, in Tamsen, who looked as if she was going to smash it for the first few questions. After that, though, it was a little bit more a struggle, and it needed a late spurt to put her over the top with one question left. 9 points meant that she finished on 22.

Well done Tamsen. Hard lines John, but with GK like that, if you choose the right specialists for a future appearance, you, my friend, could be a contender. As for Tamsen, throughout both of her rounds, I thought – judging by the look on her face she is clearly having the time of her life – I bet she’s been a fan of the show for years, and I’m glad to say her piece to camera at the end of the show pretty much confirmed it. Best of luck in the semis.

The Details

John Larkin
Islands of Great Britain
Tamsen Hiles
The Pop Larkin Chronicles by H.E. Bates
Nathan McLelland
‘Doctor Who’ 2005 - present
Paul Gurrell
The League of Gentlemen


Paul Gilbert said...

Interestingly, this is the third week in a row that the lowest-scoring contestant in the SS round has gone on to achieve the highest GK score of the show.

Stephen Follows said...

So Larkin the specialist subject narrowly beat Larkin the contestant. Has that ever happened before?