Mastermind Theme ( 1992 )

Mastermind is a British quiz show, well known for its challenging questions, intimidating setting and air of seriousness.The atmosphere is helped by Mastermind’s famously ominous theme music, ‘Approaching Menace’ by the British composer Neil Richardson.

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Devised by Bill Wright, the basic format of Mastermind has never changed — four and in later contests five contestants face two rounds, one on a specialised subject of the contestant’s choice, the other a general knowledge round. Wright drew inspiration from his experiences of being interrogated by the Gestapo during World War II.

For the first round, the questioner invites the first contestant to begin. He or she walks over to a black chair and sits down. The contestant is then given a set period of time, usually two minutes, to answer questions on a specialised subject which he or she has chosen (see examples below). The questioner announces the start of the time period, and then reads out a question. If the contestant gives the correct answer, he or she scores one point, and the questioner then reads out the next question. The contestant may pass (by simply saying ‘pass’) if he or she doesn’t know the answer, or prefers not to spend time trying to remember the answer: the questioner does not begin to read the next question until the contestant has given an answer or said ‘pass’. If a question is answered incorrectly, the questioner will give the correct answer before reading out the next question; this uses some of the contestant’s remaining time. However, if the contestant passes, the questioner moves straight on to the next question: the answer is not read out until the end of the round.