is one of the most highly regarded British quiz shows
, well-known for its challenging questions, intimidating setting, and air of seriousness. Devised by Bill Wright, the basic format of Mastermind has never altered - four contestants face two rounds, one on a specialised subject of the contestant's choice, the other a general knowledge round. Wright drew inspiration from his experiences of interrogation in World War II
Mastermind's ominous theme music is particularly famous - its name is Approaching Menace and it is composed by Neil Richardson.
Versions of Mastermind
Mastermind has appeared in four versions:
- The seminal BBC version hosted between 1972 and 1997 by Magnus Magnusson. At points this was one of the most-watched shows on British television. Magnusson was famous for his catchphrase "I've started so I'll finish" which was also the title of his history of the show (by far the most authoritative work on the show - ISBN 0751525855). The original series was also noted for the variety of venues where filming took place - often including academic and ecclesiastical buildings. The original series also spawned an International Edition between 1979 and 1983.
- A version on Radio 4 hosted by Peter Snow, running between 1997 and 2000.
- A version on Discovery Channel hosted by Clive Anderson in 2001. This version shortened the amount of time available for the answering of questions and lasted just one series.
- A new BBC TWO version hosted by John Humphrys, beginning in 2003. Whereas the original series kept talk to a minimum, asking contestants only their name, occupation and specialised subject, the new show includes some conversational elements with contestants between rounds.
The highest Mastermind score is 41 points, set by Kevin Ashman in 1995.
The lowest score record of 9 points is jointly held by Armando Margiotta, Sally Copeland and a community worker from Warwickshire who wishes to remain anonymous.
Perhaps the most famous Mastermind winner was garrulous London taxi driver Fred Housego, who won in 1980.