TV preview: John’s in the hot seat for Mastermind

John Humphrys. Picture: BBC
John Humphrys. Picture: BBC
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There’s little chance Mastermind would get a green light in 2013. With no sign of quiz show staples Micky Flanagan, Paddy McGuinness or Victoria Coren to boost its sex appeal, Chris Tarrant’s ‘Millionaire’ contestants probably wouldn’t bother showing up for the prize on offer.

Mastermind - BBC2, 8pm

But that quintessentially British ‘We don’t like to make a fuss about being brainy’ attitude is one of the reasons it’s still on air after more than 40 years.

In the early days BBC bosses appeared to have had little faith in the series, but strangely, Mastermind’s longevity may be down to Leslie Phillips.

When his risqué sitcom Casanova ‘73 was moved from its prime-time slot because of viewer complaints, this quiz took its place, and immediately became a hit.

Before long, host Magnus Magnusson’s phrase “I’ve started so I’ll finish” entered everyday conversation, and it inspired one of TV’s best-loved comedy sketches, The Two Ronnies’ ‘answering the question before last’.

There aren’t many jokes in this edition. Just John Humphrys’ crisp line of questioning and lashings of building tension.

For the first of a new run, specialist subjects include the Muppet films, which may sound a lot easier that it is.

While Michael Caine may have given one of the best performances of his life in A Muppet Christmas Carol, would you know who starred in Muppet Treasure Island?

The rest of the chosen subjects include Alexander the Great, the biblical writings of St John, and the life and work of Benjamin Britten.

Once that round is over, each of the four contestants will have two minutes to demonstrate their general knowledge prowess.

TV picks

Proms on Four: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

BBC Four, 7.30pm

The heat may have abated somewhat, but that won’t stop the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra from belting out scorching performances of James MacMillan’s Violin Concerto and Strauss’s Blue Danube waltz, followed by Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture as well as the German composer’s Fifth Symphony, the most iconic symphony in western music, which is characterised by its dramatic opening ‘fate’ motif and which takes centre stage here. Donald Runnicles is the man wielding the baton for this Prom, which is introduced by Suzy Klein and features Belgian Russian violinist Vadim Repin.

Celebrity Masterchef

BBC1, 8.30pm

Adrian Edmondson, who made a name for himself as an anarchic comic in The Young Ones and Bottom is our favourite to walk off with the prize at the end of this series. As the second quarter-final arrives Ade could have been shown the door, leaving John Thomson, Phillips Idowu and Denise Black, but you’ll have to wait and see who is left to boil in the competition cauldron.

Big Brother: Live eviction

Five, 9pm

Another Friday night and another contestant - or contestants - will be shown the door as Endemol’s enduring game show drags on. Sadly it hasn’t been a golden year but at least the 2013 run has given us Dexter, the inmate who looks a bit like Alan Partridge. Still, settle back, put your brain in neutral and enjoy as Emma Willis debriefs the latest evictee.