IN A stuffy little room in an Oxford hotel, dozens of people were being questioned under tightly-controlled conditions yesterday.
No, it wasn’t a police operation, but auditions for the next series of Mastermind.
On Thursday and Friday, producers from the nation’s favourite quiz show interviewed hopefuls from the city of dreaming spires, among them Oxford students, professionals, and an Oxford Mail reporter.
Assembled at the Bank Hotel in High Street, interviewees were fired questions ranging from the latest sport and film trivia to naval military history.
Oxford student Jeremy Stothart said he went along for a bit of fun.
Mr Stothart, 22, who comes from Chester, is studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics, the course of choice for career politicians.
He also made the grade as part of Wadham College’s University Challenge team this year, but wasn’t picked for the final TV show.
He said: “As soon as I came out, I could only remember about 10 questions, and of those I think I got about five right, and I know I got the others wrong.
“I think overall I got 10 answers right maximum. It was quite difficult. I wasn’t nervous. It would be nice to get through but I didn’t feel massively invested in it.”
In September, he is due to start a four-year placement with the Civil Service, at the same time as the show is being filmed. It will be broadcast at the end of this year and the beginning of next.
Mr Stothart said his specialist subjects were Ernest Hemingway and European geography.
The hopeful contestants will find out in the next couple of months if they have made it through to the first rounds.
The show is filmed in the BBC’s new headquarters, Media City in Salford, Manchester.
In the format pioneered by Magnus Magnusson in the 1970s, and rebooted by John Humphrys in 2003, each contestant answers one round of questions on their specialist subject and one round of general knowledge.
The winner takes home the coveted Mastermind trophy.
And how did the Mail reporter fare?
He scored 10 out of 20, compared to 2012’s Oxford Mail candidate Damian Fantato, who scored 13, and fellow reporter Andy Ffrench’s five out of 10 before that.
So, don’t expect to see his face in the real black chair any time soon.
AND YOUR TIME STARTS NOW...
ARE you a mastermind? See you how fare with these 10 questions, courtesy of mastermindclub.co.uk
What Shakespeare play contains the famous stage direction “exit, pursued by a bear”?
- Which popular game was devised by James Brunot in 1950?
- Brian Rankin is the real name of which famous guitarist?
- What did Vincenzo Perugia steal in 1914?
- Who was the first person from Great Britain to win the Nobel Prize for Literature?
- Which entertainer's 1980 autobiography is called Hollywood in a Suitcase?
- Tim Hauser, Laurel Masse, Alan Paul and Janice Siegel were the members of which group?
- Which English city was known as Esmeduna by the Romans?
- In which London square is there a bronze statue of Simon Bolivar by Hugo Diani?
- At 1,772ft, Taum Sauk is the highest peak in which United States mountain range?