Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Help me choose my BBC Mastermind specialist subjects!

For a while now I have been thinking about applying to go onto BBC's Mastermind. I usually do OK in my armchair at the general knowledge rounds but the sticking point has been picking a suitable specialist subject. Or, as the application form makes clear, the four subjects. It looks like you have to declare enough subjects to take you all the way through to the final!

Anyway, Dazmando from Bracknell Blog suggested that it might be fun to get my reader's views on which subjects would be best and/or the most appropriate. Therefore I have decided to run a poll. It just below the header at the top of the page.

The subjects I think I could do either straight away or with a bit more boning up (fnaaar!) are:

  • UK politics 1997 - 2007. I lived through Tony Blair's reign and pretty obsessively followed the politics programmes and comment pieces. Also, I have read numerous biographies from the period recently and intend to read more over the next few months.
  • UK politics 1990 - 1997. I did also live through John Major's period as PM and was politically sentient throughout although I am doubtless going to be a bit rustier on this due to the passage of time. It might give me an excuse to re-read some of the political biographies of the time though...
  • Punk rock 1976 - 1979. Now this is before my time but in my late teens I got very interested in the music and social history behind punk. I have read numerous books including the definitive and excellent "England's Dreaming" by Jon Savage. I think with a bit of revision I could be very strong on this.
  • The TV show "Red Dwarf". I used to be obsessed with this show when I was a kid and am certain I could answer pretty much anything on the first 5 series. I am less sure about the last 3 series and the recent specials though but it wouldn't take much to gen up on those.
  • The TV show "Friends". I have now watched every episode of this several times so I should be pretty good.
  • The TV show "The Simpsons". I am an expert on about the first 12 seasons. After that I would be more patchy but I am sure a bit of intensive catching up would sort that out.

Now I'm not even sure if all of these would be eligible so you might want to bear that in mind when voting. You can vote for more than one BTW, after all as I said I need four!

I will post the results when the poll closes on 17th Jan.


dazmando said...

Voted, I want Punk rock to win as thats my favourite but at the moment its 3rd

Bernard Salmon said...

The Simpsons and Friends have both been specialist subject before, so they should be OK.
But time to test you out by posing a few politics questions - no looking up the answers allowed!
1) Who was the first person to resign from Tony Blair's cabinet?
2) The continuing SDP decided to wind itself up after finishing seventh in a by-election in which constituency in 1990?
3) Roseanna Cunningham won the Perth and Kinross by-election in 1995 for the SNP following the death of which Conservative MP?

Mark Reckons said...

Blimey Bernard! You are undermining my confidence now! I'll have a stab:

1) Ron Davies of "moment of madness" fame?
2) I don't know the constituency but it was behind the Monster Raving Loony party. Do I get half a point?
3) Not sure.

So I guess politics 1990-1997 is out then!

Blackacre said...

Key is to keep the specialist subject as tight as possible to limit the questions, so the UK Politics themes are just too broad (as demonstrated by Bernard Salmon). Others would look to be fine, but you might tighten them further, eg punk rock in Manchester between the years x and y.

Bernard Salmon said...

1) Correct.
2) Correct that they finished behind the MRLP, but the constituency was Bootle.
3) Sir Nicholas Fairbairn.

Mark Thompson, you have one point and one pass.

As Blackacre says, having a very wide topic is just asking for trouble. Maybe a specialist subject on, say, the 1997 General Election? Even then, you might have to bone up on some fairly obscure stuff.