The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 5 September 2009


What has happened to Mastermind?

There’s a simple rule. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Mastermind is not a show that needs revamping. It works. It is sufficiently ‘sexy’.

Instead now it starts with John Humphries introducing the show, the contestants and their specialist subjects, before getting them all to stand in a row looking like twats.

Then into the titles. And then repeat all the information given in the pre-titles again. This is because the people who make television programmes think the viewers are idiots with the attention spans of goldfish with ADD; there may even have been a BBC memo that This Is How We Do Things From Now On.

As each contestant does their specialist round, it now goes WHOOSH and the contestant is floating around in heaven – I think that’s what it’s supposed to be – where they get to say what their specialist subject is and why they have chosen it.


This is the thin end of the wedge. Before long, it’ll be the X Factor and they’ll be saying ‘I'm doing this for my gran, who brought us up and is now on her death-bed...’

Then there’s a STUPID LIGHTING EFFECT from The Weakest Link. Why? All you have to do is turn the lights off. That’s it. No need to go to do an extra little fuckabout.

It’s because Mastermind is all done in the studio; it used to be a ‘roadshow’, shot in a different university or town hall every week. It was genuinely catering to the regions. Now each series is knocked out at Elstree in a week.

And they’ve disposed of John Humphries’ sphincter-tighteningly embarrassing ‘little chats’ with the contestants. These moments were always so joyous; the inarticulacy, the forced attempts at joviality, the complete lack of interest radiating from John Humphries.

And the specialist subjects are ever-more dumbed-down; people choosing sitcoms, pop groups, children’s books, anything requiring little or no academic study. I think Blakes’ 7 crossed the rubicon of stupidity. I don’t even like the show very much and I knew all the answers.

Oh well, at least they still have the theme tune. Here’s my singalong lyrics:


Look at the chair
Look at the chair
Isn’t it shiny!
Look at the chair
Look at the chair
That’s real leather!
Here are the geeks
What a prize bunch of freaks
They’ve been studying for weeks
Yes they have, oh yes they have...

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