Brain of Britain


Brain of Britain

"Brain of Britain" is a BBC radio general knowledge quiz, broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

It began as a slot in "What Do You Know?" in 1953 before becoming a programme in its own right in 1967. It was chaired by Franklin Engelmann until his death in 1972.

The format of the quiz is simple. A contestant is asked a question; if he answers it correctly within ten seconds he gets a point and is asked another. If he gets one wrong the question is offered to the other contestants via silent buzzer, and after that the questions move to the next contestant. If a contestant gets five questions correct in a row then he gets a bonus point and the questions move to the next contestant. The contestant with the most points at the end of the programme wins.

The show also features "Beat The Brains", in which a pair of questions submitted by a listener is read, winning a book token if the contestants fail to answer correctly one or both questions.

"Brain of Britain" was hosted by Robert Robinson for most of its life, although during his illness the 2004 series was hosted by Russell Davies. Peter Snow took over the role in 2007, also due to the illness of Robinson, dispensing with Robinson's trademark style of addressing contestants by their honorific and surname (eg 'Mr Blenkinsop'), preferring to use their given names. Robinson was reinstated for the Autumn 2008 series, and formality returned to the proceedings.

Until 2007, all questions were set by one individual, who was present (but silent) during recordings. The host would consult the setter, traditionally known by a pseudonym, to adjudicate when an answer was imprecise. For many years Ian Gillies fulfilled the role, taking the name "Mycroft" (from Mycroft Holmes, older and wiser brother of Sherlock). After his death in April 2002, the new question setter was Kevin Ashman, who has the distinction of winning both "Brain of Britain" and "Mastermind". He chose to be known as "Jorkins", a character in Dickens' "David Copperfield". From the 2007 series a team of setters was engaged, as is the practice in most other quiz shows.

For much of its life the theme music of "Brain of Britain" was the opening of the fourth movement of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, but in a 'modernised' version by Waldo de los Ríos. This choice was the subject of frequent complaints from classical music fans (with whom the show was popular) and presenter Robert Robinson described it on air as "Mozart plus sacrilege". The theme was changed to a more conventional version in the early nineties.

Every three years, the three most recent champions compete for the "Brain of Brains" title, most recently held in 2008. The three winners of "Brain of Brains" themselves compete for the title "Top Brain", held every nine years, with Mark Bytheway the most recent winner in 2008.

The 2008 series has now started recording and has reverted back to the previous format with Robert Robinson retaking the chair. The first two shows of the series were recorded on 26 August 2008 and the first one was broadcast on 29 September.

eries champions

References

External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/comedy/brainofbritain.shtml Official BBC website]


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