Dumbing down Mastermind

I watched Mastermind at my parents' house on Tuesday. I think they're dumbing down the show: the eventual winner's specialist subject was The Television Series One Foot in the Grave. I don't believe it!

It reminded me of my favourite Mastermind story. It's strange I haven't mentioned here before, so why don't I put that right immediately?

There was a TV programme called Nationwide which ran from the Sixties until the early Eighties. Some of you might remember it. It was a strange mix of current affairs and inane trivia. They once had some nutter on it who claimed he could walk on eggs without breaking them. He achieved this by jumping over the eggs and touching them gently with his foot as he flew by. It took him several attempts before he succeeded, after which, flushed with success, he demonstrated his ability to walk on water using a near-identical technique. I'll never forget the presenter, Michael Barrett's, exact words after witnessing this incredible feat: "Is that it?"

Anyway, I digress. A few years before the Powers That Be finally pulled the plug on Nationwide, someone on the programme had the bright idea of running a Junior Mastermind competition. The grand final was between a young girl from Welwyn Garden City (or somewhere posh like that) and some rough, northern lad from Bolton. Magnus Magnusson (who else?) asked the questions:

Magnusson: Our first contestant please. And your name is?
Girl: Webeccaa Bwacknell-Wemmington.
Magnusson: Occupation?
Girl: Schoolgirl.
Magnusson: And your specialist subject?
Girl: Woman Bwitain, forty-four A.D. to four-hundwed and ten A.D.

OK, I made up her name.

OK, I made up her speech impediment as well. But you get the idea: she was a very posh girl from a very posh school.

She got about four questions correct with eighteen passes.

On came her adversary:

Magnusson: And our second contestant please. And your name is?
Boy: Gary Radcliffe.
Magnusson: Occupation?
Boy: Schoolboy.
Magnusson: And your specialist subject?

Gary's outstanding knowledge of buses (for that is what he meant) enabled him to wipe the floor with poor, young Webecca.

Even though I was only a kid myself at the time, I knew a fix when I saw one.

Actually, I tell I lie: I think Gary might have lost. Either way, it was still a fix. It was like that stupid race at primary school all over again.

Postscript: Oh, I see the BBC has resurrected the idea of Junior Mastermind.

Filed under: Nonsense

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. I hate the word chavs. It was invented by certain individuals south of Watford because they didn't have a word of their own for scally which is fair enough. But it's a stupid word.

    Actually, I object to the phrase south of Watford too. It was also invented by southerners, the implication being that anything north of Watford is in the North of England (until you get to Scotland, that is). No it isn't. The North of England begins somewhere near Shrewsbury.

  2. Surely, Watford is in the midlands? Or am I confusing that with Watford Gap? (Roy Harper wrote a song about that...Watford Gap, Watford Gap, plate of grease & a load of crap!)

  3. Oops! It was me all right. I forgot the orange box

    There's a little security program that checks who I am so that I can have an orange box by default. It times out after one month and I have to log in again. I didn't notice I had been timed out. Just spent 20 minutes trying to remember my pass-word.

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