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Last Updated: Monday, 7 July, 2003, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Take our Mastermind quiz
Mastermind, a BBC classic, is returning to television. But is it as tough as it used to be? Try our quiz at the bottom of this page.

Long-time fans of Mastermind, which returns to network after a six year break, will be relieved to find the programme not much altered.

Cabbie Fred Housego (above) became a household name after winning in 1980
Highest ever score was 41, by Kevin Ashman in 1995
Lowest ever score was 12, by Arfor Wyn Hughes in 1990
The first question ever on Mastermind was: in what year did the event which inspired Picasso's Guernica take place?
The programme was devised by former PoW Bill Wright, who modelled it on giving name, rank and number
Researchers who asked Liszt Society for help setting specialist questions were reputedly referred to the contestant

There is a new host - Radio 4's John Humphrys - but there is still a black chair, there are still dozens of questions, and there is still the phrase "I've started so I'll finish", which survives despite Humphrys trying to kill it off.

"I'm not a catchphrase kind of person," he told BBC News Online. "I'm not Bruce Forsyth with his nice-to-see-you-to-see-you-nice. That's not quite me."

But the famous phrase lives on. "I wanted to drop it, but there was 'shock, horror' at that. You can't mess about with it. So it has stayed, but I don't do it all the time.

"The reason it's a catchphrase is not because someone sat down and thought 'What catchphrase shall we have?' It's because that's what you would say if you were halfway through a question and the beeper went on the poor sod sweating in the chair."

Dumbing down?

Other suggestions the Today programme presenter made were also turned down, he says.

"I had all sorts of ideas for changing it. They were all rejected. For instance, I wanted to allow them to interrupt the question if they knew the answer, but that would have short changed the audience.

"What I soon realised was that I was dealing with an institution - there are even Mastermind societies."

Among this year's specialist subjects are The Simpsons and the music of The Smiths, leading some to accuse the contest of dumbing down.

But Humphrys rejects suggestions that it is getting easier. "This is one programme which very definitely hasn't dumbed down," he says.

"And I know that because I couldn't answer half the questions - I couldn't even answer 2% of them."

Test yourself

To help viewers put that to the test, we have assembled a quiz of former taxi driver Fred Housego's winning general knowledge round from the 1980 final.

A few questions based on that year's events have been left out. And you have the immense advantage of multiple choice. But as a bit of fun, take the quiz to see how you measure up against Housego's winning score.

To which family does the caribou belong?
A: Moose
B: North American deer
C: Bison
D: Pass
Who wrote the adventure novels The Call of the Wild and White Fang?
A: John Buchan
B: Jack London
C: Joseph Conrad
D: Pass
Who was the man who overthrew General Batista in January 1959?
A: Papa Doc Duvalier
B: Pinochet
C: Castro
D: Pass
The Parsees are descended from Zoroastrians who fled from Persia in the 8th Century - in which country did most of them settle?
A: Afghanistan
B: India
C: Turkey
D: Pass
What's the name of the opera by Beethoven in which Leonore, Florestan and Rocco appear?
A: Die Fledermaus
B: Fidelio
C: Orfeo ed Euridice
D: Pass
What was the chemical element which Henry Cavendish called "inflammable air"?
A: Fluon
B: Oxygen
C: Hydrogen
D: Pass
In which county was the Battle of Bosworth field fought in 1485?
A: Leicestershire
B: Derbyshire
C: Northamptonshire
D: Pass
Until 1968 who was responsible for the censorship of new plays before their public performance?
A: The Lord Chancellor
B: The Lord Privy Seal
C: The Lord Chamberlain
D: Pass
During the 1920s "speakeasies" flourished in the United States. What was a speakeasy?
A: Illicit drinking dens
B: Brothels
C: Debating societies
D: Pass
At which Cambridgeshire airfield does the Imperial War Museum maintain an collection of historic aircraft?
A: Donington
B: Duxford
C: Biggin Hill
D: Pass
The highest peak in New Zealand is named after a famous British navigator. Who was he?
A: Cook
B: Tasman
C: Nelson
D: Pass
Thomism is a name given to the doctrine of which medieval philosopher?
A: Thomas Hobbes
B: Thomas Aquinas
C: Thomas Reid
Which meteorological quantity is measured with an anemometer?
A: Air pressure
B: Wind speed
C: Humidity
D: Pass
Which sport is played by the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers?
A: Ice hockey
B: Basketball
C: American football
Who was commander-in-chief of the British forces in France from 1915 until the end of the First World War?
A: Kitchener
B: Lloyd George
C: Haig
D: Pass
If St John the Evangelist is represented by an eagle, what is the symbol of St Mark?
A: Lion
B: Deer
C: Wolf
D: Pass
What is remarkable - I've started so I'll finish - What is remarkable about the church at Greenstead, near Ongar in Essex?
A: Norman flint interior
B: Anglo-Saxon wooden walls
C: Tudor wooden font

 Press the button and see how you have done

Mastermind makes BBC return
28 Apr 03  |  Entertainment



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