Monday, 11 May 2015

The 5th Element

While it's still interesting...

It's been known for a while that ITV's The Chase is looking to cast a 5th chaser. The Chase is arguably ITV's best quiz currently running, and often challenges Pointless for the highest daytime ratings each week. A large part of The Chase (and Pointless)'s appeal come from their casts, and so the identity of the 5th chaser is of big significance to both shows.

This week Mark Labbett  tweeted a crucial hint to the 5th chaser's identity. It's been suggested before that the 5th chaser will be a young(er than the other chasers) woman, codenamed 'The Vixen'. Mark says: "the vixen is a champion of TVs toughest quiz". That seems like it should be enough information to prepare a shortlist, and in doing so, quietly celebrate some of the UK's best female TV quizzers.

I've no idea who @bothersbar is.

Googling TVs toughest quiz, yields, on page 1, mentions of 4 UK quizzes: Who Wants to be a Millionaire, University Challenge, Only Connect, and 15-to-1. For this consideration, I'd also like to throw in Mastermind, which I doubt many would dispute is at least, a very tough TV quiz.

We start by eliminating the non-options. 15-to-1 has not seen a non-celebrity female winner since Daphne Fowler in 2001. Daphne, whilst she would make an amazing addition to the chase, recently retired from Eggheads, so it seems unlikely she would wish to return to TV. Winners before 2001 are a possibility, but it seems a bit unlikely that a 'young' chaser would be more than 15 years into a quizzing career.

Similarly, Who wants to be a millionaire(?). Only one of its five UK champions is female, Judith Keppel, and she is also associated currently with the spiritual rival BBC show, Eggheads.

Only Connect and UC, then, will throw up most of our options, with Mastermind providing one outsider.

Three of the thirty (if the reader receives these figures with a mild sense of dismay, they are in the same mindset as the author) Only connect series champions have been women: 

Series 3's Gamblers included Jenny Ryan; 

Prior to choosing a greek letter.

Series 4's Epicureans were lead by Katie Bramall-Stainer, 

Improvised Movie Lines

and Series 6's Scribes featured Holly Pattenden. 

Songs to do with letter-writing. No, I didn't get it either.

From what little this researcher could find of them while compiling this list, all 3 are strong potential chasers, displaying impressive knowledge (although, as OC champions of course they are). As her team's captain, I saw a little more of Bramall-Stainer's character than Pattenden or Ryan, and think she in particular, might have a good ability to play to the half-friendly adversary role that The Chase demands.

Moving onto UC, unlike OC, for which lists of past champion players are not so readily available (for Institutions, yes, which I think tells you more than a little about the strange way UC is viewed in society). However, this researcher is reasonably familiar with the recent history of University Challenge, and can identify two strong candidates who have been particularly memorable UC winners (and in fact, winning captains).  

More famous is Gail Trimble, who won (ish) with Manchester in 2009, and generated such enormous media coverage at the time that I'm not even going to link it, go google if you need to. Gail's knowledge is perhaps the most impressive of any on this list, and she certainly carries enough fame from her UC time to 'need no introduction' if appearing on The Chase. However, from her appearances on UC, I worry whether Gail's personality is too earnest, and generally well-meaning to meet the character role required for the Chase. Trimble, who is now Dr Trimble, is a fellow in Classics at Trinity College Oxford, and has made few quiz or media appearances since 2009. 

Compare to Daisy Christodoulou (easier to pronounce than you're thinking), who was winning team captain for Warwick in 2007. A better historian might give you arguments as to why Christodoulou's win was not followed by the same sort of media explosion as Trimble's - but certainly it wasn't due to less impressive general knowledge, as Christodoulou displayed incredible knowledge through her series, including the most important skill for a UC winner, the ability to recall information exceptionally quickly for the buzzer questions.

As a former secondary school teacher, I'm sure Christodoulou has the toughness needed to appear on The Chase. Christodoulou has also not been media-shy since her victory; appearing in a 'graduates' series of UC, as well as a short film about education for the daily politics.

Christodoulou is described by Wikipedia, first as an education researcher. She has written a book, and given talks on the subject of education. Perhaps this is not incompatible with a regular quiz-show appearance?

And finally, a relative outsider, 2015 mastermind champion Marianne Fairthorne. I remember Fairthorne mostly for captaining the Festival Fans in series something of Only Connect, you may or may not remember her mostly for wearing a hat on University Challenge. She is a relatively recently active TV-quizzer, having only won mastermind this year, but is again a great character who I think could 'work' on The Chase. 

It felt necessary to mention the hat.

Appearing on Mastermind
So there you have it. I'm sure in a few days or weeks this speculation will be rendered entirely wrong, but for now, my analysis of the potential 5th Chasers for ITV.

1 comment:

  1. Pick that one out, top picture. Hell of a shout!