Brain of Britain
Franklin Engelmann (1968-72)
Robert Robinson (1973-2008)
Russell Davies (stand-in, 2004, 2009, host 2010-)
Peter Snow (2007)
Adjudicators (usually silent): "Mycroft" (Ian Gillies, 1973-2001), "Jorkins" (Kevin Ashman, 2002-7)
BBC Radio 4, 16 January 1968 to present
Radio's premier clever-clogs quiz show, originally spun-off from a segment in What Do You Know?.
Four contenders gather from a selected region of the UK, and the presenter asks a question of each, continuing until they get one wrong - that's open to the other contestants on (silent) buzzers. There's a point for a correct answer, five in a row gains a bonus mark, and ten seconds are allowed for thought. In the event of a tie, bonus questions count double; a five question play-off is available if required.
Half-way through each episode is a "Beat The Brains" section, where a listener sets two questions, hoping to stump the panel on one, and win a book token. Like the main quiz, this interlude was also carried over from What Do You Know?.
According to Ian Gillies' book from the 1980s, each programme was carefully structured, with relatively easy questions to begin with, difficult posers in the middle, and relaxing with more simple questions to end the programme on a high. This structure appears to have been relaxed over time, and almost forgotten by the twenty-first century. One thing that never changed was that two questions would be accompanied by a musical clue - except this changed to three music questions in 2012.
The contest features 48 competitors - eight each from London, the Home Counties, the Midlands and East Anglia, the North of England, four from the South-West, and four drawn from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Until 2006, each heat featured people from the same geographic region. The twelve heat winners, and four highest-scoring runners-up, compete in semi-finals, with the winner of each advancing to the final.
Every three years, the annual winners return for a Brain of Brains competition. Every nine years, the triennial champions compete in the Top Brain contest, possibly eight years after their original triumph. The Brain of Brains and Top Brain scheduled for 2007 were delayed until September 2008, allowing Robert Robinson to return to the host's chair.
Towards the end of his life, Robert Robinson's health was not good enough for him to participate, despite the show relocating to London on occasion to facilitate his continuing contributions. 2007 saw Peter Snow taking up the mantle, along with a few other minor changes: contestants introduced themselves rather than having the host greet them, and were referred to by their first names rather than Robinson's traditional "Mr Jones/Mrs Smith". Also, a production team set the questions rather than one individual, as Kevin Ashman was unable to travel to Manchester regularly. Robinson returned for the 2008 series, but was again absent in 2009, with Russell Davies standing in. In August 2010, Robinson announced that he would not be returning, allowing Davies to officially step up to the the role of host. Robinson died in August 2011, and a tribute was paid prior to that autumn's first show.
Those listed for 1954-1967 are winners of the Brain of Britain segment of What Do You Know?
|1954||Martin Dakin||1972||A. Lawrence||1990||Jim Eccleson||2008-9||Geoff Thomas|
|1955||Arthur Maddocks||1973||Glyn Court||1991||Chris Wright||2009-10||Ian Bayley|
|1956||Anthony Carr ||1974||Roger Pritchard||1992||Mike Billson||2010-11||Iwan Thomas|
|1957||Rosemary Watson||1975||Winifred Lawson||1993||Geoffrey Colton||2011-12||Ray Ward|
|1958||David Keys||1976||Thomas Dyer||1994||Ian Wynn-Mackenzie||2012-13||Barry Simmons|
|1959||Dr Reginald Webster||1977||Martin Gostelow||1995||Ian Kinloch|
|1960||Patrick Bowing||1978||James Nesbitt||1996||Kevin Ashman|
|1961||Irene Thomas||1979||Arthur Gerard||1997||Daphne Fowler|
|1962||Henry Button||1980||Tim Paxton||1998||Guy Herbert|
|1963||Ian Barton||1981||Peter Barlow||1999||Leslie Duncalf|
|1964||Ian Gillies||1982||John Pusey||2000||Mike Smith-Rawnsley|
|1965||Robert Crampsey||1983||Sue Marshall||2001||Tom Corfe|
|1966||Richard Best||1984||Peter Bates||2002||Dr David Jones|
|1967||Lt. Cmdr. Loring||1985||Richard Fife||2003||David Stedman|
|1968||Ralph Raby||1986||Stephen Gore||2004||Alan Bennett|
|1969||T. D. Thomson||1987||Ian Sutton||2005||Christopher Hughes|
|1970||Ian Matheson||1988||Paul Monaghan||2006||Pat Gibson|
|1971||Fred Morgan||1989||Barbara Thompson||2007||Mark Bytheway|
 At 18-years-old, the youngest ever winner.
Brain of Brains
|1989||Glen Binnie |
 Mr Binnie finished second to Miss Thompson in the 1989 final, and took her place when she was unavailable to record the Brain of Brains competition.
(The assistance of Quizplayers in this section is acknowledged.)
"Aaaah." (and other slightly pained cries, as Robert Robinson fills while the adjudicator considers an answer.)
Various versions of "Rondo", including that by the fabulously named Waldo de los Rios.
The record score on a programme final is 35, although there have been higher scores in earlier rounds.
Former producer Richard Edis explained the show's appeal, "When the audience hear a question to which they know the answer, they feel warm. When they know and the competitors don't, they're positively incandescent."
A Brain of Britain quiz book was published in 1986.