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Mastermind contestant tells of 'fantastic experience' despite final heartbreak

Malvern Editorial 7th May, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A MALVERN man has described his time on BBC show Mastermind as a ‘fantastic experience’ despite narrowly missing out on being crowned series champion.

Brian Chesney had the same amount of correct answers as his closest opponent, but still finished second in the Grand Final which screened at the end of April, because of having more passes.

The 69-year-old from St Andrew’s Road said the only thing he had won in his life was a raffle and winning the show would have been the ‘crowning glory’.

In the build-up to the final Brian was filmed visiting the Italian war memorial at Redipuglia for his specialist subject – the Italian front in the First World War.

He said: “I have always been interested in Italian history and the First World War so I just put the two together really.

“It’s the story of one battle after another as the Italians tried to fight their way up the hill against the Austro-Hungarian forces shooting down at them. It happened again and again and again for five years. The life of a soldier in the Italian army was terrible, much worse than those in the British army on the Western front.”

Brian scored an impressive 13 in his specialist round with only one wrong answer and no passes, and despite adding another 12 in the general knowledge round it was the four passes which saw him finish in second place.

It marks the end to a marathon journey on the show for the retired librarian, who had to come through two auditions before winning the first show followed by a semi-final where his specialist subjects were Catherine the Great and Alexandre Dumas’ Musketeer novels.

“The Musketeers was the hardest.” Brian said. “There are five books and you have to read them more than once and try and remember everything. I memorised all the pubs and taverns because I thought a question would come up and it did.”

Brian, who also works at Oxford Brookes University and is also a history lecturer for Malvern’s own U3A group, said he had been watching Mastermind for more than 40 years said he only decided to go on the show when his wife told him to ‘win me that fruit bowl’.

He added: “It has been a fantastic experience and going to Italy was absolutely amazing.

“A lot of people have asked me if I was nervous, but I wasn’t really. I just went and sat in the chair and everything goes dark and all you can see is John Humphrys.

“I would tell anyone to not give up on the their dreams of trying to have a go, and not to be nervous. It is a fun thing to do.”

The Mastermind grand final is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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