'Mastermind' seeking 'more diverse' contestants

Mastermind (Credit: BBC)
Mastermind (Credit: BBC)

Veteran BBC quiz show Mastermind is looking to recruit a ‘more diverse audience and contestants’ in forthcoming series, according to reports.

Documents from the broadcaster which have been sent to external TV production companies were seen by The Times, and explain while the ‘intellectual rigour’ of the show is to be maintained, a ‘creative refresh’ is needed.

“We wish to attract a wider and even more diverse audience and contestants for these series,” the documents reputedly say.

“We wish to explore how to cast a wider ranging contestant pool attracting younger and older contestants, and wider diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, sexuality and disability.”

The show, which is currently hosted by 75-year-old Today programme host John Humphrys, has been on the air since 1972.

Female contestants won the first three series of the show, followed by a fourth in 1978, but since then, winners have been predominantly male, though Isabelle Hewerd won the 2017 series, her final specialist subject being the movies of Billy Wilder.

In fact, only four women have won the title over the past 20 series.

The show is known for its memorable title music – a classical piece called Approaching Menace by the composer Neil Richardson – and for the catchphrase ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’, ushered in by the host if the time runs out during the round’s final question.

Creator Bill Wright said that he took inspiration for the show from his experiences being questioned by the Gestapo in World War II.

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