62. Mastermind

Tapehead no 62

What is the point of Mastermind ?

The specialist subjects are invariably irrelevant or impenetrable and, as if to compensate, in this series, the general knowledge has been almost laughably easy.

For example: Which part of the body does alopecia affect?

Too difficult ? Try, which mop-topped foursome from Liverpool had a hit with a song called Love Me Do ? (Love me Doh !)

Worst of all was the one asking, which bridge – built in 1926, designed by Edgar Browingsdale – adjoins San Francisco ? (Rhymes with “olden plate.”)

This week’s contender for ‘Is Magnus Magnesium Taking The Piss ?’ was “Which flower is associated with Remembrance Day ?”

The winner is invariably the contestant whose specialist subject is some obscure Cornish poet no one has ever head of – 1936-37 – while the poor mug who takes on The History Of Spanish Art…All Of It, struggles to get into double figures.

It’s barely surprising that the Wild West expert know what Butch Cassidy’s real name was (Tapehead would rather know what it was that made him so butch).

Tapehead likes the way the contestants nod knowingly whenever they get one wrong, as if they knew all along, and the way the last contestant – struggling to think of the answer – closes her eyes, frowns really hard and grits her teeth.

As usual, Masterchef is a study in vicious understatement. When Lloyd Grossman says something like, “I’m not totally convinced by the cream sauce on the red mullet,” what he’s really saying is, what a peasant.’

When he sees contestant number one’s dish and knowingly describes is as “the best thing someone’s done with black pudding for ages,” he obviously hasn’t seen some of the things Tapehead and his girls can do with a black pudding.

While Italian cooking writer Anna del Conte natters away knowledgeably, special guest Mick Hucknall from Simply Red, says, “Cor, that tastes nice!” a lot and stuffs his face. Perhaps if he’d used his knife and fork a bit more rather than eating with fingers. (Especially for the ice-cream and sorbet.)

As for the pepper tulle baskets, parsnip streamers, wild mushroom consommé and quenelles of sweet potato, that’s the sort of thing Tapehead rustles up for his breakfast.

The only thing that really had him puzzled is when Anna del Conte considers the preparation of the plate of venison and muses, “It looks quite well hung.”

Quite how she knows the deer concerned, Tapehead will never know.

Millionaires is a good idea for a piece of popular nonsense, but you know a new series is in trouble when it starts with the statement, “When the Queen makes a state visit as important as the one to South Africa, how she looks matters as much as what she says or what she does.”

So if the Queen said, “Have your ever noticed that South Africans smell of custard ?” or stood on the balcony smoking crack the fact that she was wearing a turquoise two-piece with white shoes and handbag would be just as important.

This week’s millionaire is the Queen’s highly stylish, debonair dressmaker, Hardy Amies “or H.A. as he is know.”

Future delights in store include Raymond Blanc and (say it ain’t so)…Bruno Brookes. According to the press release, they will be “revealing how they made their money and how they intend to keep it”. (Charming.)

The only interesting anecdote about Amies is that, when he was at school, his dad to him a job interview with the editor of the Daily Express, who told him they didn’t think journalists should go to university and packed him off to go and live with a family of French farmers instead – exactly what the editor of The Guide did to Tapehead. But without the millionaire status that followed.

Of course, this Carlton-made series is little more than a puff-piece, mere patronising PR, with Amies declaring, “if it can be said that I am not unsuccessful…” a lot, when he is evidently a multi-millionaire who is very bloody successful indeed.

In fat, the tone of self-congratulation accelerates with alarming glee, until a moment near the end when Amies gets his wad out and starts screaming, “Loads of money,” into the camera. Absolutely shocking.


Masterchef: 5.25pm, Sun, BBC1

Mastermind: 10pm, Sun, BBC1

Millionaires: 7.30pm, Tue, ITV