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Quiz dumbed down
AS a former Mastermind semi-finalist in the 1992-93 series, I was interested to read references to Mastermind and the ‘dumbing down’ of specialist subjects and of general knowledge questions.
In the first round at Strathclyde University, I did the ‘fluffy’ subject of the Grand National from 1839 to the current day and then in the semi-final I went to Huddersfield University to answer questions on Damon Runyon, the author and newspaper reporter.
In those days standards were higher in terms of dress, collar tie and jacket being mandatory, and in the choice of ‘non-fluffy’ specialist subjects – I had to persuade the production team that my first-round subject was ‘social history’ and had to do the full 150-odd years of the great race.
Mastermind for me ended in 1997 when Magnus Magnusson retired.
In the modern version of the programme, specialist subject requirements, and indeed the dress code, have been lowered and the cosy chat with John Humphrys prior to the general knowledge round in a bright studio rather than the darkened outside broadcast is at odds with the original concept.
Even so, I think the decision to go on the programme requires a certain amount of nerve and belief with the possibility of things going wrong and of mind going blank leading to embarrassment in front of several million viewers.
Steve Hayes, Wains Grove, Dringhouses, York.
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