Fifteen-To-One Champions Final (Channel 4, 1997)
By 1997 there had been enough overall series winners of Fifteen-To-One to have them return to play one another in a champion of champions special which was contested in the style of a series grand final. As usual this special was hosted by William G Stewart and a special trophy had been commissioned to be awarded to the winner.
Several memorable contestants took part in this final, including Jon Goodwin who was the winner of the first series in 1988, Kevin Ashman who has also been a Mastermind champion, Martin Riley who at the time held the record for the highest score in a final with 333, and Trevor Montague who was subsequently stripped of his trophy after it was noticed that he had broken the rules.
The show didn’t feature the likes of Bill McKaig, Daphne Fowler or Nick Terry who would win a record four series as they were among the best players of the later years of Fifteen-To-One after this special took place. For this special the rules were slightly different, with only one life lost for every incorrect answer, so even if a contestant got both of their questions wrong they still went through to round two.
The second round was played to the regular rules, but lasted about twice the length of a regular edition such was the standard. William G Stewart admitted when the round ended after about 20 minutes that he thought that he might need a rest. Really any of the 15 contestants could’ve made it into the final, but Andrew Francis, Leslie Booth and Mal Collier were the ones who did. Also, both Francis and Collier are from Ormskirk in Lancashire, as I remember someone pointing out online they must have a very impressive quiz league there.
The final was played out in the style of a regular series final, with all 40 questions on the buzzer. It turned out to be a very close game, with series 2 winner Mal Collier being the eventual winner by a very small margin and going on to have the honour of being the overall champion out of over 20,000 contestants who had appeared on the show at the time and receiving the trophy from Laura.
When Fifteen-To-One launched in 1988 it must have been hoped that the show would earn a reputation for being a tough general knowledge game, and that winning the show would go on to be as regarded as being on the same level as such established and respected shows as Mastermind and University Challenge, and I definitely feel that they achieved that aim. William G Stewart said at the end that he thought the standard was as good as he’d seen on any other show. He also then went on to thank everyone who has taken part over the years and helped to make everything run so smoothly. Just one more Fifteen-To-One piece planned from me now when I take a look at the revival soon.