Sunday, 19 September 2021

TV quizzer out of luck again

A COUPLE from Shiplake have got their fingers crossed for their very clever daughter.

A COUPLE from Shiplake have got their fingers crossed for their very clever daughter.

Marianne Fairthorne, a quantitative analyst, appeared on the BBC’s Mastermind last month and only narrowly missed out on victory.

But, according to her parents Simon and Belinda, there is still a good chance that she could make the semi-final after posting one of the highest scores of the series.

Dr Fairthorne, 32, who grew up in Shiplake and attended the village primary school, has previously appeared on two other BBC quiz shows, Only Connect and University Challenge, where she gained a reputation for her unusual headwear.

She competed in the 18th episode of the latest series of Mastermind and her specialist subject in the first round was Empress Livia, the wife of Roman emperor Augustus.



She answered 14 questions correctly in two minutes, only getting one wrong answer, and was the highest scorer at the end of the round.

Then Dr Fairthorne and the other three contestants had two-and-a-half minutes to answer as many general knowledge questions as possible. She gave 13 correct answers and got five wrong with just two passes.

At the end of the round, host John Humphrys revealed the answers to the two questions she passed on.

He said: “The short but influential book illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley was...” Dr Fairthorne interrupted, saying: “The Yellow Book?”

Humphrys replied: “It’s a wee bit too late.” He was right as Dr Fairthorne was left tied on 27 points with drugs researcher Alan Gibbs but he did not have any passes so won.

Humphrys said: “Commiserations, sort of, to Marianne but with a score of 27 it is entirely possible that we shall see her again in the semi-final.”

Mr Fairthorne, a mathematics lecturer, said: “You could see she was annoyed with herself when she discovered missing The Yellow Book has cost her. As it stands, her 27 is the third highest losing score and the best six go through. Hers was heat 18 and there are six more to go. In past years 27 would get her through on all but two series, so the odds look favourable.”

Miss Fairthorne, who now lives in London, said sitting in the famous black chair was intimidating.

“I think most people who haven’t been on Mastermind probably believe that you can just decide not to pass,” she said.

“In fact it can be very difficult to come up with a plausible wrong answer quickly and it wouldn’t feel quite in the spirit of things to me if I’d just answered at random. I also think it’s very important not to get annoyed about getting answers wrong that you could have got right. It happens to everyone and if you let it get to you it will be off-putting at the time and irritating afterwards.

“I went in with the attitude that I wasn’t going to regret whatever happened. Of course, you’re going to feel a bit annoyed at the end of the round but actually it wasn’t too bad.

“Plus Alan is very good indeed, and a thoroughly nice guy, so I don’t mind losing to someone like him.”

Dr Fairthorne, whose older sister, Rosanna, works at the Home Office, appeared on University Challenge in 2009 representing the London School of Economics and wore a different hat in each round.

Last year, she competed on Only Connect as captain of the Festival Fans team but found she was not allowed to wear any sort of headgear in case it strobed.

Needless to say, the same will apply if she does make it through to the next round of Mastermind. I wish her luck.

More News:

POLL: Have your say