Mr Flibble Talks To... Master Minder
He conquered the black chair with his Dwarfian prowess - Mr Flibble talks to Mastermind winner Steve Clark.
10 October, 2003
Steve Clark
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Andrew told Mr Flibble that Steve is a mental heath NURSE. Mr Flibble thought they'd come to take him away (ha ha). They hadn't, unfortunately...

I've been in nursing for nearly 20 years so I've heard all the jokes! Here's a couple of the better ones: How many mental-health nurses does it take to change a light bulb? The light bulb really has to want to change. Why did you become a mental health nurse? Because the voices told me to.

Yes there still a great deal of stigma attached to mental health problems, but we don't tend to deal with axe-wielding homicidal maniacs, most of the people I've nursed have led perfectly normal lives but unfortunately have become mentally unwell. It can affect anyone, regardless of sex, age, social class, religion or race, and fortunately most mental illness is now treatable and people can resume daily life. (Pause) I'll get off my soapbox now.

Mr Flibble wanted to know if anyone has one of those "You don't have to be mad to work here..." signs up?

No, we have an interesting variation which reads "YOU DO HAVE TO BE MAD TO LIVE HERE OTHERWISE NO MEDICATION!"

So, tell me what prompted you to enter MASTERMIND...

I'm a bit of a quiz show junkie and I've been on about a dozen different ones in all, including 15 To 1 (three times), The Weakest Link, Countdown and Brainteaser. I also won Britain's Brainiest Nurse a couple of years ago, but it was never screened so only my friends and family are aware of my achievement!

Mastermind is to me the Holy Grail of quiz shows, it's known and respected throughout the world, and although there's no big money or prizes to be won it carries more prestige than any other quiz show.

You were up against people answering on high-brow topics like Shostakovich, Florence Nightingale and Kingsley Amis. At what point did you pick Red Dwarf as your specialist subject?

The Discovery Channel did a version of Mastermind about two years ago which I appeared on. Someone else had already taken Red Dwarf as their subject, and although they did quite well they missed three or four answers which I would have got, so when the opportunity arose again I made sure I was first in line to choose my subjects.

You have to give three varied subjects for the heats, the semi-final and the final as soon as you are accepted as a contestant. My other two subjects are The Life And Work Of Tony Hancock and Clement Attlee.

Mr Flibble shone a torch into Steve's face to make him feel more at home. Did you do a lot of revising before the show?

Yes. You really have to know your subject inside out, I spent three weeks preparing (that's how long you get), watching the videos. That may sound like a labour of love to fans but you have to watch them to absorb information - actor/character names, numerical information, spacecraft names planets etc. etc. - rather than for entertainment. It's draining mentally, and you still have to study your other subjects just in case you win your heat. Plus you know that you will probably only be asked about 0.1% of what you've learnt.

What aspect of Red Dwarf do you think you know least about?

I would have to say the novels, I've read them all, and although the plots are largely adapted from the TV episodes, they differ just enough to make them a whole subject on their own - which makes it difficult to learn. Fortunately I wasn't asked any questions on them so that was a big relief.

And what's your strongest suit?

My forté has to be the earlier episodes - Series I-III - simply because I've had them on video for longer and am more familiar with the plot [and the] characters.

Mr Flibble said he knows almost all of the lines from Quarantine. Well, his lines, anyway. Well most of them. Andrew rolled his eyes and turned back to Steve. Talk us through the RECORDING DAY itself...

My partner, Sue, and I drove 250 miles up to Manchester, which is where it is filmed, and this gave me the chance to do some last minute revision. We arrived at the studios about 5pm. You are then taken to the green room and meet the other contestants - this is where the psychological warfare begins, psyching each other out and sizing up the opposition.

Then it's into make-up (I should stress I don't wear make-up on a regular basis) and a quick briefing from the producer on the format of the show, [the] dos and don'ts. We went into the studio at around 7pm, where Ted Robbins, who fans may know best as Den Perry from Phoenix Nights, was warming up the audience. Because the audience is in darkness you're not too conscious of them when you are in the black chair.

The presenter, John Humphrys is already in the studio, having already filmed two shows earlier in the day, and he has a brief chat to the contestants. Then the cameras roll and you start your moment in the spotlight. I was second on, which is the best spot because it gives you an idea of what you are up against.

For the General Knowledge round you go to the black chair in ascending order of scores, so fortunately I was leading and went up last, knowing I only needed to score two points to ensure victory.

Then they have to re-do some bits to overcome the smeg-ups, the end music and credits roll and you return to the green room for some food and a well-earned drink or two. John Humphrys came round afterwards to say "well done" to everyone and he seems really nice, although I think when he has a brief on-camera chat with you before you answer your general knowledge questions he forgets he's not interviewing Tony Blair and is a bit of an interrogator!

You actually won the first round - but must have kicked yourself on the one you did miss, that 'Good Knight cheat' question!

I sure did. I even remember watching that episode and thinking I should make a note of these 'cheat words', but for some reason I never did and had to pass on that question - which spoilt an otherwise faultless round.

Mr Flibble he got stuck on the first question - the one where they ask you your name. When did you first become a FAN of the show?

I've been watching Red Dwarf since it first started in 1988, and I'm one of the few people who saw the first series when it was originally screened (although I'm sure some fans will tell me otherwise) but I didn't really become a fan until Series II, which contains my favourite episode Queeg.

I like the first III or IV series best, probably because they focus more on the relationship between Lister and Rimmer, and to me good comedy on TV is about human relationships - e.g. Steptoe and Son, Only Fools and Horses and The Office. To a large extent the situation is irrelevant, Red Dwarf happens to take place in deep space three million years in the future.

My favourite character has to be the Cat. I've got four cats at home, and his behaviour and mannerisms are so near the mark it makes you wonder if Danny used method-acting to get into the role. There are so many classic scenes and lines in Red Dwarf, but among my favourites are Lister realising they have amputated the wrong arm in Epideme, the first appearance of Duane Dibbley in Back to Reality, and the Western scenes in Gunmen of the Apocalypse. My all time favourite though is when Holly reveals he is Queeg...

Have you ever been to a Dimension Jump weekend?

No, I've never been to a DJ weekend, but I will definitely pencil one in my diary in the near future. Perhaps we could hold our own version of Mastermind, where everyone's specialist subject will be Red Dwarf! I'd be happy to act as questionmaster, it would be nice to be asking the questions for a change!

Mr Flibble enjoyed talking to Steve, and now that it's over... Mr Flibble is very cross.