Mastermind denies ‘dumbing down’

The producers of BBC quiz show Mastermind have denied the programme is dumbing down, despite last night’s specialist subjects including the life and career of Jennifer Aniston.

Since the programme first aired in 1972, contestants have been grilled on all manner of tricky topics, from the history and genealogy of European royalty to the life and works of Gilbert & Sullivan.

But since the show relaunched in 2003 after a six-year break and with new host John Humphrys, more populist subjects have been included, such as The Simpsons and UK football grounds.

But Jon Kelly, producer of Mastermind, denied such topics marked a decline in the quiz.

“Mastermind has always had a balance of high-brow and populist subjects,” he said.

“Last night’s show is a classic case in point. Alongside Jennifer Aniston was the life and works of Frida Kahlo, German wines and the life and career of Henry Ford.

“Last week we had the life and work of Johannes Kepler and the Duke of Wellington, and next week’s show will feature Dante’s Divine Comedy, Sir Edwin Lutyens and the battle of Gettysburg.”

A former contestant on the show, Glenys Hopkins, 70, from Warrington, agreed that the questions were not getting any easier.

“I think the range of subjects is becoming broader, not dumber,” she said.

“I don’t see why someone has to be dead to be considered worthy as a subject. Jennifer Aniston is a well-known actress with a good body of work behind her.”

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