17 February 2012
University of Bristol academic George Ferzoco is to be quizzed on national television tonight [17 February] when he sits in the famous Mastermind hot seat.
He was so determined to take part in the show that he flew to Manchester for filming from Rome, where he was researching at the Vatican Secret Archive.
Viewers will see him take to the ominous black chair to answer questions on his specialist subject - The life and films of Federico Fellini.
George said: “I've always enjoyed Fellini. I hold him to be among the greatest of directors, and I can't think of anyone else who so captures the art of cinema as he does.”
Of the thousands of who applied to be on the show, George was one of only 96 who were selected to be a contestant this year. After a gruelling selection process, he found out that he would be on the show last May whilst working in medieval manuscripts in the Austrian National Library in Vienna.
George added: “I got the email and remember thinking that I would not be able to accept the invitation to be on the show, because during the weeks before and after the recording date I was planning to be in Rome, researching at the Vatican Secret Archive. Luckily, I was able to find a convenient flight from Rome to Manchester, where the show was to be recorded.
“The contestants don't actually hear the scary music, and the chair is extremely comfortable. And the lighting is much more dramatic for the viewer than the contestant, thank goodness. John Humphrys was like each and every person I met at the BBC - professional, polite, good-natured. Really, they were great.”
Mastermind pits four contestants against each other. Each proceeds in turn to the dreaded black chair, where he or she must answer two minutes of questions on a declared specialist subject before withstanding a two-and-a-half-minute barrage of general knowledge questions.
George thinks he was selected in good part because of his knowledge of religious matters, as he explained: “Studying and teaching in Bristol's Theology and Religious Studies Department not only makes one appreciate the depth of thought and feeling inherent in religious and anti-religious belief, but it also exposes one to a great quantity of facts relative to the world's religious traditions, and how those traditions in turn relate to their respective political and social environments.”
The episode was recorded seven months ago, but George has been sworn to secrecy about the outcome.
The contestants don't actually hear the scary music, and the chair is extremely comfortable. And the lighting is much more dramatic for the viewer than the contestant, thank goodness. John Humphrys was like each and every person I met at the BBC - professional, polite, good-natured. Really, they were great.