Mastermind has been running for 35 years and was originally hosted by Magnus Magnusson who was famed for his “I’ve started so I’ll finish” catchphrase. Four contestants sit in the creepy black Mastermind Chair with the lights turned down low and a spotlight on them. It looks like a scary experience and usually is. The contestants face two rounds of questions – one on a specialised subject of their choosing and another on general knowledge. The questions are asked quickly against a 2 minute timescale and the contestant can answer the question or pass to the next one. The person with the most number of correct answers after both rounds (or in the event of a tie-break the lowest number of passed questions) wins the contestant. The most famous of the winners of Mastermind is former cabbie Fred Housego, but Chris Hughes (who won the contest in 1986) is a member of the Eggheads team which appear daily on BBC2.
John Humphrys took over as question master in 2003. Tonight’s Celebrity Mastermind was part of a week of special programmes with each celebrity competing for charity and a trophy. DJ Spoony, Ghosthunter Yvette Fielding, dancer Wayne Sleep and art critic Brian Sewell took part. They had various specialised subjects from Henry VIII to Bob Fosse. It was interesting to pit your wits against the celebrities but it was surprisingly how low the scores were and the lack of general knowledge. Spoony won the night’s contest with a weak 18 points, but other programmes during the week had much higher scoring contests.