Family duo set Mastermind first

Sally Jones and Madeline Grant
Sally Jones and Madeline Grant

Former TV presenter Sally Jones from Newbold Pacey, near Leamington, and her daughter Madeline Grant have become the first mother and daughter to appear in the same series of the popular TV quiz show Mastermind.

The pair appeared in different heats, both broadcast in the last few weeks, but which were filmed on the same day at the BBC’s studios in Manchester.

For Sally it was her fourth appearance on the show but she was unable to match her previous best result and win a place in the semi-finals.

She said: “I had a nightmare set of general knowledge questions, but did better with my specialist subject, John Betjeman’s poetry.”

Madeline, 21, an Oxford University student and former model, was also one of the youngest-ever contestants and on her debut appearance came within a point of securing a semi-final spot.

She scored 24 points, including 12 points on her specialist subject, the novels of 
E M Forster.

Madeline said: “I was so nervous that when the guy in front of me finished I started walking to the chair before my name was called. Cue laughter from John Humphreys and the audience and an embarrassing retake. On my way back the mike fell out of my jeans, which then had to be refitted in full view of everyone.

“When I got back in the chair, something rather marvellous happened. I found that the mike incident, while mortifying, had actually released a great deal of tension. As I sat down, I felt almost relaxed and both sets of questions went surprisingly well.”

Sally and Madeline are both former pupils of King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham, and that’s where they say they developed their taste for quizzing.

“King Edward’s has got a strong tradition in national quiz competitions,” added Sally, “and that’s where Madeline and I – and her brother Roly, who was at King Edward’s School – all got the bug. We’ve always loved quizzes.”

Madeline captained the St Hilda’s College, Oxford, University Challenge team, while Roly, now 24, reached the final of ITV’s Britain’s Brainiest Kid when he was 10. He was also a reserve for the Caius College, Cambridge, University Challenge team.

“We had a laugh when Roly and Madeline went to the University Challenge auditions,” said Sally, who worked as a news and sports presenter for the BBC.

“I worked alongside Jeremy Paxman in the 80s and during the qualifier he joked with the children that he chiefly remembered me for mangling the word ‘dioceses’ on air. I resisted the temptation to tell them what I chiefly remembered him for.”

Over the years Sally has appeared on The Krypton Factor, Crosswits and Fifteen to One. Aged 18, she won a set of silver goblets on Sale of the Century.

She said: “Madeline got the family bragging rights at this year’s Mastermind but it’s not put me off applying again, even though sitting in that black chair can feel like the loneliest place on earth.

“And we’ll always enjoy our family quizzing sessions at home. Maybe it’s in the genes. During childbirth, I deadened the pain of contractions with an epidural and played Trivial Pursuit for hours with my husband John.”