From combat correspondent to quiz host, Clive Myrie is a true Mastermind, according to Christopher Stevens.

David Smith
Read Time3 Minute, 33 Second
Clive Myrie

Clive Myrie must have more hats than the millinery department at Harrods. This year, the 58-year-old journalist has been a constant presence on the BBC, reporting from Kyiv at the outbreak of the Ukrainian civil war.

He has been in the spotlight as a newsreader all week, maintaining a delicate balance in the wake of the Queen’s death so as not to appear mawkish or overdramatic.

As Mastermind (BBC2) returns, he plays an entirely different character as the presenter — the interrogator with a twinkle. It would not be shocking to discover that Clive prepares the sandwiches at the BBC canteen during lunchtime. Given his abilities, he likely prepares the tastiest cheese-and-pickle-on-granary sandwich at Broadcasting House.

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Mastermind is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the gameshow flagship was a fitting choice to mark the tentative return to normalcy for TV schedules following the disruptions of the previous 12 days.

Monday night on BBC2 is quiz night, and 90 minutes of brainteasers, which were enjoyable without being frivolous, seemed like an appropriate break from national mourning.

Clive Myrie has been prominent as a newsreader all week, maintaining a delicate balance in the wake of the Queen’s death, being cautious to appear somber without being mawkish or overdramatic.

However, Mastermind categories are not as strict as they once were. Ruth was the first candidate, and her selection of the life and works of the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya would have won over the original host, Magnus Magnusson.

Other specialized selections, such as the works of crime writer Raymond Chandler and the achievements of British athletes at the most recent Olympics, were more eccentric.

Ben, a bartender, was the least conventionally intellectual participant; he advanced to the semifinals by answering questions from the BBC gangster thriller Peaky Blinders. Ben looked the part in his flat-brimmed hat and waistcoat, but his admission that his mother helped him with his revision somewhat tarnished his tough appearance.

He appreciated the benefit of shorter queries. In the first two minutes, Ruth obtained a perfect score of 13 correct answers, 0 erroneous responses, and 0 passes.

Clive Myrie

Ben did not make any errors, yet he was able to squeeze 15 points from his turn in the chair. In the subsequent round of general knowledge, this gave him the upper hand.

Even though he lost his composure in the middle of the game and gave six bad answers, he still managed to win, defeating Ruth, who got only three questions wrong.

That didn’t seem entirely fair. Perhaps Ruth should have been warned: Peaky Blinders are not to be trifled with.

Quizmaster Jeremy Paxman, who will retire at the end of this season, is as abrasive as ever. “Come on!” he yelled as one team hesitated.

The more esoteric Only Connect (BBC2) followed, where the entertainment for most of us resides not in attempting to answer the questions but in marveling at the contestants’ otherworldly intelligence.

One team obtained the largest number of points from the most obscure clue: an Irish flag bearing the numbers 3 and 9. That was all they needed to deduce that this would be a question concerning rhyming numbers; in Gaelic, the terms for 3 and 9 rhyme, just as 7 and 11 do in English. This left me so stunned that I was unable to answer the television question: what connects Heartbeat’s Alf Ventress, Frasier’s Niles Crane, Minder’s Arthur Daley, and Dad’s Army’s Captain Mainwaring? They all have wives that we never see.

University Challenge (BBC2) rounded out the trio of quizzes with rounds on Cold War monster films and Legend Of Zelda video games.

You can bet that somebody has a doctorate in Godzilla.

Quizmaster Following the conclusion of this series, Jeremy Paxman is as abrasive as ever. He yelled, “Come on!” as one team hesitated. He’s Jez-zilla.

Conker the collie was eager to assist in the preparation of Jamie Oliver’s One-Pan Wonders (C4). ‘I’ve never had a dog before,’ remarked Jamie Oliver. “He’s like my personal sous-chef.” Conker’s verdict: the fish pie was intriguing, but the lamb meatballs were delicious!

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