Radio Memories – Brain Of Britain.

Brain Of Britain (BBC Radio 4, 1968-present)

This is one of the longest-running game shows on the radio, and it is possibly the ultimate of the ones in the “so you think you’re clever, do you?” category, merely being invited to take part is considered to be an honour on the scale of similar shows including Mastermind and Fifteen-To-One. This format has been around since the 50s, and is based on a game called What Do You Know?

The longest-serving host of Brain Of Britain is Robert Robinson, but as I became a regular listener in more recent years, I am more familiar with the current host Russell Davies. Not so long ago, a book was released featuring questions of varying difficulty, and there was also a brief history of the show featured, which explained a little more about how the questions are compiled, and what it actually takes to succeed.

Every week, four contestants from across the country take part. They are asked fairly difficult general knowledge questions for one point each. But if they give a wrong answer, or run out of time, it goes on offer to one of their opponents. There are several questions where every contestant can end up offering an answer, and sometimes they all miss out.

If they manage to give five correct answers in a row though, they score a bonus point, which is an impressive achievement. Around the halfway point in the game, two questions are asked that have been sent in by a listener. They can confer on these, and this doesn’t affect the scores. In the unlikely event that they manage to beat the contestants, the listener wins a prize.

They then go back to the regular game, and there are also questions that contain an audio clue, usually a piece of music. The winners and the highest-scoring runners-up progress to the next stage of the contest, and the overall champion at the end of the series should definitely be proud of themselves. This is one of those shows where listeners hope to get some answers right themselves, but are mostly in awe of the knowledge on display.

Every so often, there is also Brain Of Brains where the most recent champions play each other, along with Top Brain, where the winners of this play each other. Defeated contestants can also come back to play again after a few years, and it’s probably no surprise that people who have done well on other game shows like Mastermind also do well here, maybe they could end up on The Chase.


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