Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 May 2015

Mastermind contestant beats Bennett

Astute observations: Alan Bennett’s writing is full of fundamental truths about life society
Astute observations: Alan Bennett’s writing is full of fundamental truths about life society

Playwright Alan Bennett knows less about his own plays than a Mastermind contestant who chose the writer as his specialist subject.

Questions about Bennett's TV productions feature in the BBC Two quiz as the specialist round for hopeful Robin Seavill.

But in a challenge set by Radio 4's Front Row arts programme, the writer performed less well than the contestant - despite actually creating the plays.

Presenter Mark Lawson quizzed Bennett for a programme using the same set of questions.

And during the two minutes of questions for which Mastermind hopefuls are quizzed, he achieved fewer correct answers - and more passes - than the man in the black chair.

Eventually, Bennett scored a higher total of right answers. But he had been given seven more questions than Mr Seavill - a puzzle compiler - and was answering questions for more than three-and-a-half minutes.

Comparing just the two-minute sections, Mr Seavill, who works for the Press Association, was actually four points ahead. And comparing the first 18 questions - the number which Mr Seavill faced during the allotted time under the spotlight - he would have been two points ahead.

Front Row editor John Goudie said the writer had no hesitation in taking part in their version.

"He agreed straight away. He was very sporting," he said.

Asked how he felt to be a Mastermind subject, he said: "It makes you feel dead - but lots of things do that. Watching television or reading the Sunday papers makes me feel dead."

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