Ok - it's vain, it's self serving, it's not the mark of a mature adult, but the fact is that since my Mastermind adventures I've found myself collecting just a few bits and pieces of memorabilia to do with the show.
Here's the collection so far, then. We'll start with a couple of items that relate specifically to my time on the show: -
The Mastermind 2007 Trophy
Alright, maybe it's a bit of a cheat including this one, since it's not something you can buy in the shops, but what the hell, I won it fair and square. Since 1972 there have been only 39 of these presented to the winners of each series ( up to 2013 ), and another two presented to the winners of the 2 Champion of Champions series. So that probably makes them one of the most exclusive pieces of Mastermind memorabilia you can have. Like all of the winners' bowls, this is a Caithness Glass rose bowl, hand engraved by Denis Mann. I believe that mine is a little unusual inasmuch as the majority of the bowls have a design which incorporates the Muses from greek Mythology. Mine has four adoring heads gazing at the chair, surrounded by umpteen subject categories. It's an object of desire, but more than that it is what the bowl actually represents. I emailed Denis Mann, the artist who created it, and asked him if it was the only deviation from the Muses theme. This was his reply,
“No it was not the first deviation but the others were a long time ago and only a very few. I have a lot of latitude as to the design, it depends on the producer but having worked on the trophy for many years there are times went the muses desert me somewhat and a change is helpful.”
The Antiques Roadshow visited Newport South Wales in 2014, and in a mood of - what the hell - I took the bowl along to show it off. The short consultation was actually filmed.
Mastermind Champion of Champions Photo Frame
I entered Champion of Champions in 2010 believing that the only person who would get anything other than travelling expenses would be the winner. Imagine my surprise when, a couple of weeks after the show, I was sent this rather nice photo frame, with me from my filmed inset, alongside the chair. I imagine and hope that the other 15 champs all received the same. If they were only sent to the champions who played, then there would only be sixteen of these, which would, if anything, make them even more exclusive than the bowls themselves.
John Humphrys Signed Flyer
If anyone was the star of the 2007 final it was John Humphrys. The normal warm up man for the show at that time was Ted Robbins. Mistakenly in my opinion they decided to ditch Ted in favour of a local Glasgow boy for the final. By the time we entered the studio he was going down like the proverbial lead balloon. Normally in lulls during the recording John would turn to Ted, who would take over, or the two of them would exchange banter. Seeing how the poor guy was dying on his feet, John ignored him completely, and took command himself every time there was a lull. He was brilliant.
Unfortunately John couldn't stay in Glasgow after the final, which was recorded on a Friday evening, so he didn't come into the green room for long, if at all. He must have known he wasn't going to be able to make it since he'd signed a lot of these flyers, which were left around the green room, for people to pick up or leave as they fancied. I picked this one up.
London Bridge (1831) Paper Weight
Dave - I hear you say - what has this got to do with Mastermind? As such, not a lot. However the fact is that the History of London Bridge was my grand final subject, and it served me well. So after the final I had the chance to pick up this for a few bob.
It really wasn't a lot of money since tons of stone from Rennie's Bridge were cut up and made into mementos like this. It has a chip of stone from the bridge, set in Perspex. Not expensive to make, I shouldn't have though, but it's a nice thing, and looking at it is enough to bring back a happy memory of a great day. If you'd like to know more about this particular collection, perhaps you'd like to check out my other webs.com website. Just click on the link below.
Mastermind Scrap Book
I say Mastermind, , for most if my scrapbook does concern my time on Mastermind, but there are just a few other bits and pieces about other TV appearances too - a couple of letters, studio passes from Are You an Egghead and Brain of Britain, a contestant pack, that sort of thing. As for Mastermind, well, its a few articles and reports, a few letters and one or two other bits and pieces. In the photo you can see my invitation to the Mayor's Parlour in Neath, the front page of the local newspaper after the final was broadcast, and a magazine article.
The rest of the items in the collection are things I've picked up in the last few years which aren't connected to my time on the show.
Caithness Glass Goblet presented to Mastermind Production Assistant 1987
You sometimes find some quite desirable stuff on eBay, don't you. This lovely item was part of the same lot as my BBC Mastermind Pen. It wasn't expensive, and I couldn't resist it - this looks a treat alongside my bowl. Again, it's not the sort of thing that I would imagine you would ever get much of a chance to purchase otherwise.
I somehow doubt whether Production Assistants actually get presented with this sort of thing when they leave the show now, what with austerity, budget cuts and the like.
"I've Started So I'll Finish" by Magnus Magnusson - signed copy
I have no regrets over my Mastermind experiences at all. However I am sorry that I never got a chance to meet the great Magnus. My final took place 6 months after the man with whom the show will always be associated passed away. This meant that the trophy was presented by his daughter, respected broadcaster Sally Magnusson.
This book, Magnus' own history of the first 25 years of the show, is a terrific read for anyone who is even mildly interested in the show. Magnus signed it on the front page. I had it for about £5 on ebay.
Now, here I have to admit to a missed trick. I could and should have taken it with me to the Champion of Champions series, and could probably have got it signed by up to 16 of the former champions. I'm not saying that it would have increased its value, and I don't care, since I won't be selling it. But it's a shame I didn't think of it.
BBC Mastermind International 1979 Ticket - signed by Magnus Magnusson
BBC Mastermind Jubilee Grand Final 1977 Ticket (Unsigned)
BBC Mastermind 1984 Ticket (Unsigned)
I'll level with you, I don't really know why anyone would hang onto a used ticket to Mastermind for more than 30 years, but I'm very glad that some people did. The first old ticket I bought was the one for the 1979 Mastermind International contest. Mastermind International was a series of annual one-off contests between winners of Mastermind, or its equivalent, in the UK, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and some other countries. The contest which this ticket refers to is the 1979 inaugural Mastermind International. It was filmed in the Guildhall, and won by John Mulcahy of the Republic of Ireland. From then on it was run in the home country of the previous winner every year until the last running in 1983, won by our own Chris Hughes. The back of this ticket, like my copy of the book, is signed by Magnus himself. Not the most expensive item I will ever buy, I’m sure – a couple of pound on ebay sealed the deal.
They don't come up on ebay all that often, but I also recently saw this Grand Final ticket. Judging by the other two tickets, the normal practice was to print them in black and white. The fact that it was 1977 coincided with the Queen's Silver Jubilee, and those of us who were around at the time probably remember that everywhere was a riot of red white and blue that year. So I'm guessing that's why this ticket is like it is. That was quite a show too, as I recall, won by the late Sir David Hunt, who set the then highest ever total of 38 - even though he had lost his first round show and only got to the repechage semi final. Nice item, and at less than a pound to buy it didn't break the bank.
Of course, there are far more heats in any series than there are finals, so I also have this ticket from a heat in 1984 at Worcester College. Again, an ebay buy, and a little more expensive than the other two, rather more significant tickets.
Magnus Magnusson signed photograph
The third piece of the collection to have Magnus' signature. I'm not actually trying to collect a enough Magnus pieces for a football team. This one I liked because it was sort of a companion piece to the signed John Humphries flyer from my final. It's kind of like a postcard, and on the back it has Mastermind printed on it, and the information that Magnus Magnusson never missed an edition of the show. Very true. On the front I particularly like the fact that it has the chair silhouette on it. What's it worth? In intrinsic terms not a great deal, but then anything is worth what you are prepared to pay for it. It wasn't a huge amount of money, and I was very happy to add it to the collection.
Fred Housego Signed Photo
Magnus Magnusson Signature
Both of these were presents for my 50th birthday. My daughter Jessie saw the signature on a popular internet auction site and reckoned, well, you can never have too many Magnus Magnusson signatures, can you? Noble sentiments, I am sure you will agree. I was delighted.
As for the Fred photograph, well, let me explain. When I played in Champion of Champions I already knew a few of the champs, and I met several more on the day - and delightful people they all are. I couldn't call it a regret, but the fact is that I didn't meet Fred Housego on the day, since he didn't take part.
Now, maybe the name Fred Housego doesn't mean so much today, but if you know anything about the Magnus era of the show, you'll know that Fred was the champion who broke the mould, the first champ from outside the traditional areas of education and the Civil Service. His 1980 victory meant an awful lot to a lot of people, and I was one of them. I have several times written on my blog, only slightly tongue in cheek, saying how much I'd like to meet Fred, share a pint, maybe get a photo together. It hasn't happened yet, but one day, hopefully. Mary, my wife, bought me this, and I'm so grateful that however silly she might think my collection, she indulges me like this. Great choice of gift.
Yes, it's another photograph of Magnus. This one isn't signed. It's an official BBC photograph, which the press department sent out to various organisations and outlets at the start of the 1990 series - won by my friend David Edwards incidentally. I maybe wouldn't have bought this one, except that on the back it's printed with the BBC logo, a little blurb about the series, and some rules and regs about use of the photo. All of which makes it different from a plain unsigned publicity photo, and for me, a desirable object to add to the collection.
Now, I can't pretend that this is a photo of another champion. It's a press photograph which I found on ebay, when a local newspaper in an English city was selling off some of its old picture library. It was taken during the 1994 series. You do get some odd things come up on Ebay some times, but then if it's Mastermind, then as far as I'm concerned it's fair game. The label on the back of the photo has the date, the location, and the name of the lady in the chair - for privacy's sake I shan't reprint it here. If by any chance it's you, though, please feel free to email me.
Radio Times - August Bank Holiday 1977
I don't know how many times Mastermind got a cover of the Radio Times all to itself - for all I know this may have been the only one. Still, it is a measure of how popular the show had become by the start of the 1977 series. This is the series that was won by Sir David Hunt. Inside, there is a double page spread about the show, focusing specifically on the four contenders in the first heat. One of these was Sue Jenkins, who went on to reach the final. The article is a fairly typical Radio Times promotional piece of the times - nothing you haven't already heard or read before from several sources. Curiously, although Magnus - sitting in the wrong kind of chair - is in the foreground of the cover photo, the article inside hardly mentions him at all. Still, it's an interesting thing. I found it on ebay with a Buy It Now price which I felt was all of its money. I rather cheekily managed to get the seller to knock a few bob off it for luck.
BBC Mastermind Sheaffer Pens
I started off with just one of these. This was the other half of the lot with the Caithness glass goblet. I don't know, but I'd guess its contemporary with the mid-late 80s goblet. It's a nice enough thing, with the BBC logo and Mastermind written in the font used on the show in the mid 80s. On top of the while lid is the chair in silhouette. Nice.
I recently saw another one on eBay, and well, you know what happened next, don't you? I bought it. I did email the seller, because the font that Mastermind was written in is slightly different - see the picture. He said that he had received it when taking part in the show in the early 80s (although he said it was not in the televised stages. I'm not sure that I got what he meant by that bit). So I don't know - were the pens given away to contenders back in the day? Or was he just lucky, and given one by a researcher anyway? Whatever the case it's a very nice thing.
I'm A Mastermind - BBC South and East - Badges
I'll be honest about these. Once you've had a look at the picture, then you probably know as much about them as I do. I'm guessing that these badges don't date from later than the 1980s, but other than that I have no idea. Why it links up specifically with BBC South and East is because BBC South and East were responsible for making the show . . . I think. I don't know how common they were either - for all I know these might have been given out to audience members in every show, or just to kiddies, or whatever. In three or four years I've seen eleven of them on eBay. I bought the first one I saw and my daughter Jess bought the second. Then I saw the third one, the middle one on the top line, on ebay, and realized that it was subtly different from the other two - the writing is a little finer, and the chair a little bigger, and not quite the same. I acquired some more, and then saw one of the original type along with the only one I've yet seen of the small type in the centre of the second line. 11 now. Where will it all end? Good question. Every time I've bought another I've told myself - that's quite enough - and then I see another and say - one more wouldn't hurt, would it? I guess it's probably fair to say that I'm a hopeless case. I just hope that there isn't some little feller sitting in his back room somewhere churning these out - other wise it could get very expensive.
Mastermind Matchbook c. 1990
A Mastermind book of matches? Really? Apparently yes. It's a little faded, and it's really really difficult to photograph. so for now you'll have to make do with this little one. It has , as you could have guessed, a photo of the chair, and the word Mastermind in the mid 90s font. That's about as much as I can tell you.
"And No Passes" - by Mary-Elizabeth Raw
Not a signed copy I'm afraid. This was the first, and as far as I know only, print book by a Mastermind Winner, about her own experiences on the show. Mary-Elizabeth Raw won the show in 1989, and beecame one of the most popular winners of all time in doing so. She equalled Jennifer Keaveney's record of 40 points - still the joint second highest total in the history of the show. This tells the whole story of Mary-Elizabeth's time on the show, and the year following her victory.
Mastermind Quiz Books
I shan't go into detail about these since you can find all of that on the pages about TV tie in quiz books. I think I have all the Mastermind quiz books that have been published in Britain. Mastermind India is another matter, but all in the fullness of time.