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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April, 2003, 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK
Mastermind makes BBC return
John Humphrys (left)
Humphrys likes asking questions

Legendary quiz show Mastermind is returning to the BBC eight years after it was axed with radio presenter John Humphrys asking the questions.

Humphrys - more used to grilling politicians - will take on a role made famous by Magnus Magnusson.

A recent celebrity edition of the show was a big success and the format has been used on cable channel Discovery, but it has not had a regular spot on television since 1995.

Humphrys, a presenter on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, said he was facing his new role with "slight trepidation".

"I've spent my entire career trying to get people to answer questions who don't want to answer questions.

"Now I will be talking to people who are desperate to answer questions.

"You need a slightly different approach. It's not quite like doing interviews with the chancellor or the foreign secretary."

The 59-year-old journalist said he was "gobsmacked" when he got the call - and said he initially said no because he thought he was being asked to appear as a contestant.

The Mastermind chair
The chair is a legend in its own right

"Magnus Magnusson was brilliant. I'm taking over from an institution. It will be fun. That's the idea."

Asked whether he would revive Magnusson's famous catchphrase "I've started, so I'll finish" when interrupted by the buzzer, Humphrys said: "I don't know. I shall have to take advice."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "Magnus has other commitments. It had to be someone with that statesmanlike aura, who was very sharp and on top of the game. He had to be of a similar calibre.

"John is a well respected journalist and presenter."

She added that the legendary black leather chair from the original series would not be used - it was given to Magnusson - but a replacement would be found.

The BBC is looking for contestants and the series is due to be shown on BBC2 in mid-June.

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