Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Everything you need to know about the Mastermind quiz

SEQC Mastermind is based on a popular quiz format from a BBC TV series. BBC Mastermind was the brainchild of TV producer Bill Wright, a former RAF gunner, who drew on his wartime experience as a PoW of being interrogated by the Gestapo to come up with the feel of the quiz. This reflects in the way contestants are put under the spotlight, and in the ritual of being asked their name, occupation and specialist subject, much like the three bits of information PoWs generally reveal -- name, rank and serial number.

The first ever edition of BBC Mastermind was recorded at Liverpool University and aired on BBC1 in 1972. The show was hosted by 43-year-old former journalist Magnus Magnusson, a formidable Scot of Icelandic parentage. Its immediate popularity -- somewhat unexpected given the highbrow nature of the quiz -- led to both Mastermind and Magnusson becoming household names. The show ran in its original avatar till 1997, and has re-appeared in numerous versions on other channels as well since.

Mastermind came to India as a series on BBC World between 1998 and 2002. Hosted by Siddhartha Basu, it retained all the hallmarks of the original show. One of the innovations of the Indian edition was the staging of the contest at heritage sites across the country. For example, in 1999 the semi-finals were held at the Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi, and the finals were held at the City Palace, Jaipur. Two SEQC members have featured on Mastermind India -- Annie Sen Gupta in the 2001 edition, and Harsh Bhatkuly the next year.

The format of the quiz has always been the same, and will remain so for SEQC Mastermind as well. Groups of four contestants (three, in the case of the SEQC contest) compete against each other and the clock to earn the most points. Each is quizzed first for two minutes on the specialist subject of his or her choice, and then -- in Round Two -- for a further two minutes on their general knowledge. Interrogation takes place in the famous 'black leather chair', which we have been fortunate enough to find bequeathed to us along with the CCP Hall (I believe the CCP Chairman or the Mayor or someone of that sort sits on it during important meetings).

SEQC Mastermind takes off on Sunday, October 18, when 14 of our members take the chair. Only four will survive this rigorous trial.

No comments: