G&TV: Red Dwarf on Mastermind featured image

Name? Ganymede & Titan.

Occupation? Tedious Red Dwarf fansite.

And your specialist subject? Occasions on which Red Dwarf has been a specialist subject on the long-running BBC quiz show Mastermind.

Jason Smegley (admin of the only decent Red Dwarf Facebook group, and of the well-worth-following On This Day in Red Dwarf Twitter account) recently uploaded a lovely couple of videos to YouTube, of the two most recent times that questions about our favourite show have been directed towards someone in a big black chair. They in turn reminded us of two previous times Red Dwarf featured as a specialist subject, so with a sense of approaching menace, let’s run through them all in chronological order…

Steve Clark, 29th September 2003

For any non-Brits and/or young people reading, Mastermind has been an iconic staple of the BBC schedules since 1972, although there was a brief hiatus when the original run came to an end in 1997. But as soon as it was revived six years later, albeit with a much worse host, Red Dwarf featured in the very first “new” series. Steve Clark, a mental health nurse from Bournemouth, took on the challenge.

There’s no video online that we could find, but thankfully some seventeen-year-old loser with nothing better to do documented the episode at the time, including transcribing all the questions. For further reading, there was also an interview with Steve on TOS.

Contestant’s Score: 14 (one pass)

Difficulty level: I remember being very smug at getting all fifteen questions Steve faced right while I was watching along, but there were a few tricky ones among them. A hardcore fan shouldn’t face too many difficulties, as long as they can remember what position Tongue Tied peaked at in the charts.

What happened next? Steve breezed through the general knowledge round and into the semi-finals. There, his specialist subject was the life and works of Tony Hancock (bastard), but unfortunately he didn’t make it through to the grand final.

Katy Bateman, 1st February 2013

Nearly a decade later, Doncaster housewife Katy Bateman followed in Clarky’s footsteps, and ended up with the exact same number of correct answers. As the show uses the fewest number of passes as a tiebreaker, Katy actually slightly bettered Steve by dint of not passing a single one. Again, there’s no video that we could find – frustrating, as other episodes from the same series are online in full – but the questions are all on TOS, albeit in truncated form. However, we managed to find a transcript based on the subtitle file, if you want the full waffley versions.

Contestant’s Score: 14 (no passes)

Difficulty level: I must admit that I got one wrong whilst having a go at the TOS version – I couldn’t remember how many kids Rimmer and McGruder had in Better Than Life. Other than that, nothing too troubling for your average G&T reader.

What happened next? Despite being in the lead at the end of the first round, a particularly strong general knowledge round from one of her rivals left Katy in second place overall, with a nevertheless very respectable total score of 24.

Ken Morland, 26th January 2018

We now return to the main remit of G&TV – actual videos of things, thanks to the first of Jason’s recent uploads. Here’s Ken Morland, an energy analyst from Brechin, forcing the question setters to squeeze out yet another Red Dwarf round.

Remarkably, that’s now three contestants over a span of 15 years all scoring precisely 14 points with Red Dwarf questions. Ken equals Katy’s record of doing so with no passes. Once again, TOS provides a truncated transcript of the questions. The full episode is also on YouTube.

Contestant’s Score: 14 (no passes)

Difficulty level: Mostly an absolute piece of piss, in all honesty. Hard to imagine anyone who thinks of Red Dwarf as their specialist subject not knowing the name of the first episode, or the actor who plays Cat. For our money, the questions on Dave era episodes are the only potential banana skins, due to the lack of time to truly embed every last detail into one’s brain – you can see that Ken wasn’t sure about “the spoon of destiny”, but he dredged it up nonetheless.

What happened next? Ken matched his specialist score in the general knowledge round, to smash through his episode with a score of 28. In the semi-final, he answered questions on H.P. Lovecraft very successfully, and made it all the way through to the grand final. His third specialist subject was Indian Premier League cricket, and while he ultimately just missed out on a podium place, we can be very proud to say that a Red Dwarf nerd finished fourth in  Mastermind 2017/18.

David Morgan, 26th February 2020 (Mastermind Australia)

Yes, Mastermind Australia! We’ve previously covered Craig’s appearance on the Aussie equivalent of Celebrity Squares, and this is another indication of the show’s status in pop culture over there – popular enough not only for consulting research historian David Morgan to choose it as a specialist subject, but to not be considered too niche for the viewing public. However, unlike Shane Warne against Kevin Pietersen in the fifth test of The Ashes 2005, there was a catch…

Yes, the range of questions is limited merely to “seasons” 1-VIII, eliminating the most difficult element of the recent British rounds. Unfortunately, David doesn’t do quite as well as his pommie counterparts, which means we don’t get our fourth consecutive 14. Interestingly, one of the questions, regarding anger-less Rimmer’s t-shirt, is the same as one asked to Ken in the UK show. Once again, the full episode is on YouTube.

Contestant’s Score: 5 (five passes)

Difficulty level: Not as easy as Ken’s, but pretty basic stuff overall… with one notable exception. I was completely and utterly stumped by the question about the only composer other than Howard Goodall to be credited on the show (prior to The Promised Land, of course). Even after the answer was given by the Susan Kennedy-resembling host, I had to look it up – Clement Ishmael wrote the Blue Midget dance music for Back In The Red (Part Three).

What happened next? David clawed it back spectacularly in the general knowledge round, finishing with a total of 15 points, the joint highest. Unfortunately, he passed two more questions than his rival, therefore coming second and narrowly missing out on progression to the next round.

We’ve started and we’ve finished. We think that’s all of them – it’s a fairly safe assumption that it was never a specialist subject in the original Magnus Magnusson era, which cocked a snook at pop culture as a rule, but it’s possible that it may have featured in other international versions that we’re not aware of. If you know of any, do pipe up in the comments below.

10 comments on “G&TV: Red Dwarf on Mastermind

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  • The questions in the Australian episode are definitely the trickiest, I didn’t get the composer question and I’d forgot what the magazine was in Series 8 (because it’s been a long time since I’ve felt like watching those).I did spend some time searching for the other two segments but no luck.

    Jason Smegley

    God damn it

     the only decent Red Dwarf Facebook group

    Thank you :)

  • the original Magnus Magnusson era, which cocked a snook at pop culture as a rule

    You missed the show which featured ‘The Life and Career of Peter Andre’, then?

  • Both Ken and David’s questions seem ridiculously easy for anyone that consider themselves a fan enough that they’d chance it as a specialist subject on Mastermind.  David really came off as someone who has seen the show a bit and doesn’t know the underlying trivia.That said, I object to “which computer temporarily replaces Holly due to a malfunction after a meteor hits the ship” … but, twist ending aside in Queeg, that isn’t even really what happens anyway.

  • My abiding memory from clips of Red Dwarf and other comedy/’cult’ subjects on Mastermind is the host chuckling politely at the amusing answers on his cards, then when the contestant returns for some respectable general knowledge, asking them what they see in that weird shit.

  • That said, I object to “which computer temporarily replaces Holly due to a malfunction after a meteor hits the ship” … but, twist ending aside in Queeg, that isn’t even really what happens anyway.

    Interesting. It’s like the question setter took that from a badly written synopsis or a faulty memory.

  • Pretty easy stuff overall there, I’d have probably passed on one or two from the full four sets but otherwise like you say any self respecting Red Dwarf fan should be scoring highly there.

    David in particular really lets himself down! Fancy not knowing that Gunmen won the Emmy or what was written on Rimmer’s shirt in Polymorph!

  • Pretty easy stuff overall there, I’d have probably passed on one or two from the full four sets but otherwise like you say any self respecting Red Dwarf fan should be scoring highly there.

    David in particular really lets himself down! Fancy not knowing that Gunmen won the Emmy or what was written on Rimmer’s shirt in Polymorph!

    I can understand not knowing Gunmen as some people won’t know any behind the scenes stuff, just what is actually in the show. I thought not knowing Cloister was a bigger crime.

  • To be fair to the contestants, none of the questions will be anywhere near as easy when you have a bunch of TV cameras in your face and you know that you’ll be seen by millions of people.

  • To be fair to the contestants, none of the questions will be anywhere near as easy when you have a bunch of TV cameras in your face and you know that you’ll be seen by millions of people.

    Yeah definitely. Watching those two clips myself, there were only three questions in total that I would have struggled with (the spoon of destiny, the composer question and the morris dancing magazine). But put me under studio lights and in front of a camera and I reckon I’d easily flub half of the rest of them.

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