BBC News presenter Clive Myrie has won rave reviews after presenting his hotly-anticipated debut episode of Mastermind on Monday.
The broadcaster, 56, hosted his first episode of the long-running BBC quiz show after taking over from John Humphrys, who stepped down after 18 years in the role in March.
Mastermind, which marks its 50th anniversary next year, started in 1972 and has since featured four presenters – Magnus Magnusson, Peter Snow, Clive Anderson and veteran journalist Humphrys.
Critics praised Myrie – who is now the show’s fifth host – as ‘likeable,’ while others agreed he ‘radiated an agreeable bonhomie throughout’ and was ‘like your most encouraging schoolteacher.’
Meanwhile, Daily Mail’s Christopher Stevens said the broadcaster ‘excelled’ when it came to the fast delivery of the convoluted questions – adding ‘he has the sort of baritone voice that makes smooth listening, with no awkward sibilance or stutters.
Here, FEMAIL reveals what Britain’s reviewers had to say…
BBC News presenter Clive Myrie (pictured), 56, has won rave reviews after presenting his hotly-anticipated debut episode of Mastermind on Monday
The Daily Telegraph: ‘We’re in safe hands with Myrie’
Anita Singh for The Daily Telegraph praised Myrie for making it ‘the smoothest of transitions’ (pictured)
‘We’re in safe hands with Myrie. As a BBC News presenter, he has always seemed free of ego: a journalist in the George Alagiah or Sophie Raworth style rather than, say, a Huw Edwards. He has been with the corporation for 34 years but his career has hit a purple patch, in the way that sometimes happens; winning awards for his journalism and, in a surprise move, being offered the Mastermind gig.
In an interview ahead of his arrival, Myrie promised to be a “friendly face” and in his debut was just that: like your most encouraging schoolteacher. As long as you try your best, children, Mr Myrie will be proud of you…
Well done to Myrie for making this the smoothest of transitions and ensuring that the spotlight stayed firmly on the contestants.’
inews: ‘TV done properly’
Ed Power for inews said that with the ‘likeable Myrie at the helm, it was a trip back in time worth taking’ (pictured)
‘The big gimmick as venerable quiz show Mastermind returned was that there was no gimmick. With new quiz master Clive Myrie posing the questions, the series stuck to its classic formula.
There was that theme tune, ominous and comfortingly familiar in the same heartbeat. There was the traditional line-up of mega-brains with a passion for obscure subjects (Swiss topography, the private life of Tsar Nicholas II etc). It was about as cutting-edge as a mug of Ovaltine sipped with a blanket over your lap.
But this was TV done properly. As host, Myrie was clearly delighted to be following in the footsteps of predecessors such as Magnus Magnusson and, most recently, John Humphrys.
The former BBC foreign correspondent and newsreader didn’t quite punch the air the first time he had the opportunity to say: “I’ve started, so I’ll finish,” but his satisfaction was palpable. He had also promised to “be a friend” to the contestants. True to his word, he radiated an agreeable bonhomie throughout…
This was the way television used to be in the age before Instagram influencers and reality TV drivel. With the likeable Myrie at the helm, it was a trip back in time worth taking.’
The Times: ‘He executed his debut with quiet, classy efficiency’
Carol Midgley for The Times said that Myrie ‘looked at ease and at home in the questioner’s chair’ (pictured)
‘Clive Myrie had vowed not to be a rottweiler but a “friendly face” when taking over from John Humphrys as the new host of Mastermind, and he was as good as his word. He executed his debut with quiet, classy efficiency, having the air of a genial headmaster overseeing a spelling test, putting on Michael Caine reading glasses to interrogate his charges.
He is right that there is no need for a quizmaster to ramp up the menace…As Myrie says, the questions and the spotlighted black chair are forbidding enough, as is that executioner’s drumbeat as each person walks to the hot seat.
I noticed that he continued the tradition of saying “contender” not “contestant” (it has always slightly annoyed me). He responded to correct answers with a long “yeasss”. “I’m your new host and over the next 31 episodes I’ll have the privilege of joining 96 contenders as they begin the stiffest of challenges,” the veteran BBC news correspondent said by way of a low-key introduction.
It is a wise person who realises that no TV host is bigger than a 50-year-old game show, and Myrie just got on with the job of asking questions on an odd mix of subjects, comprising the geography of Switzerland, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Roger Moore and Bruce Springsteen…
Myrie looked at ease and at home in the questioner’s chair, which, let’s face it, is half the battle. On last night’s evidence he’s a worthy successor.’
And what the Daily Mail’s Christopher Stevens had to say…
I’ve started… so I’ll finish: As Clive Myrie takes over from John Humphrys on Mastermind, CHRISTOPHER STEVENS gives his verdict on show’s new presenter
BBC One, last night
Bold choice, Clive! The newsreader last night took the question master’s chair on Mastermind (BBC1) and signalled the beginning of a more flamboyant era as the show approaches its half-century.
John Humphrys, who stepped down earlier this year, favoured forbidding suits of midnight blue or black. The show’s original host, Magnus Magnusson, preferred the traditional uniform of bank managers – pale grey, with a pastel shirt.
But Clive Myrie arrived in a purple jacket with a lilac silk tie, as though he intended to step out on to the neon-lit circular stage and throw a few disco shapes.
Clive Myrie arrived in a purple jacket with a lilac silk tie. John Humphrys, who stepped down earlier this year, favoured forbidding suits of midnight blue or black
The show has a reputation to maintain, of course. The BBC loves to dub it ‘the toughest quiz on television’, which it certainly was when it launched in 1972
The real test, of course, is in the rapid delivery of those convoluted questions. Because Mastermind is played against the clock, and contestants wait for the questions to be completed before answering, the job combines crystal diction and tongue-twisting pace.
Here, Myrie excelled. He has the sort of baritone voice that makes smooth listening, with no awkward sibilance or stutters. Even the longest questions spooled out in a long fusillade and on a single breath.
Try saying this in one go without turning blue in the face: ‘In the 1960s Roger Moore played the crime fighter Simon Templar in the television series The Saint and one episode entitled The Ex-King of Diamonds featuring a Texan adventurer named Rod Houston is now recognised as the forerunner of what 1970s series also starring Moore?’ (Contestant Eleanor got that one right – it is The Persuaders.)
Magnusson was famous for his Presbyterian growl as he pronounced an answer ‘correct’. Humphrys favoured a smart ‘yep’ or ‘yes’. Myrie chose to drawl his verdict each time, dragging out the word until it was almost three syllables: ‘Heeye-ess.’ That slowed things down.
For us at home, any delay was welcome. Half the time, I was still puzzling over the question before, unwittingly playing by Two Ronnies rules (remember that classic sketch in which Ronnie Corbett gave the answer to the question before last?)
I thought I might have a shot at one specialist round, on the life and career of Bruce Springsteen.
But though I’ve been a fan for decades, I got just one right – and that was sheer luck, because by the end I was simply answering with the first thing that came into my head.
With the Roger Moore questions, I fared slightly better, scoring four. But I got none right on Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and only one on the geography of Switzerland – again, a guess.
Tom, the Alpine geographer, was looking like a sure winner, but went to pieces in the general knowledge round – easily done in that inquisitorial spotlight.
That enabled Ranvir Singh Kalare, a software engineer who is blind, to edge to victory.
The show has a reputation to maintain, of course. The BBC loves to dub it ‘the toughest quiz on television’, which it certainly was when it launched in 1972.
Since then, many have tried to take its crown – most recently, Jon Snow’s Very Hard Questions on More4, which should have been titled Jon Snow’s Instantly Forgotten Quiz.
University Challenge, which has been running even longer than Mastermind, since 1962, is too often stymied by the youth of its contestants. The students display an extraordinary grasp of academic subjects, often alongside huge gaps in general knowledge. Many argue that Only Connect, presented by Victoria Coren Mitchell, is the toughest of all – though it’s really a test of lateral thinking more than deep learning.
Mastermind remains the true test of both specialist knowledge and broad intelligence. Myrie knows that, and he also knows his Mastermind history. ‘It’s all about the stark set, the lighting, the aggressive music,’ he says. ‘It’s the idea that you are being interrogated.’ He cites the legend that the show’s creator, BBC producer Bill Wright, was an RAF gunner shot down and captured over Germany during the Second World War – and that the infamous Mastermind spotlight was inspired by Gestapo techniques. And he adds a new insight: ‘They asked him “Name, rank and number” and that’s where he got “Name, occupation, specialist subject” from.’
Don’t be fooled by the party suit, then. Clive Myrie intends to be deadly serious.
Now test yourself on some of last night’s questions
1 The Bank of England £1 note, which ceased to be legal tender in 1988, featured a portrait of which English scientist?
2 Chisinau is the capital city of which eastern European country?
3 In the British Royal Family, what is the first name of the older sister of Princess Eugenie?
4 The kirpan is a type of ceremonial sword or dagger worn by followers of which religion?
5 Which chess piece can move diagonally only?
6 The singer Mary Wilson, who died in 2021, was the founding member of which 1960s chart-topping Motown pop group?
7 In yoga what name is given to the position in which a person sits cross legged with each foot placed on the opposite thigh?
8 What is the name of the smoke-dried ripe jalapeno chilli pepper used primarily in Mexican and Mexican inspired cuisine?
9 In American football the Super Bowl is played on which day of the week?
10 Which Portuguese explorer was killed after becoming involved in a battle on Mactan Island in the Philippines in 1521?
1 Sir Isaac Newton. 2 Moldova. 3 Beatrice.
4 Sikhism. 5 Bishop. 6 The Supremes.
7 Lotus. 8 Chipotle. 9 Sunday. 10 Ferdinand Magellan.