'Mastermind' seeks more women

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The Independent Online

The BBC is so concerned at the lack of female contestants on the quiz programme Mastermind that it is launching a recruitment drive.

The BBC is to appeal for entrants via advertisements in women's magazines to boost the number of women who could sit in the show's notorious black chair, The Sunday Telegraph reports. No woman has been champion of the show since Anne Ashurst in 1997.

John Humphrys, the presenter of Mastermind, was reported as saying: "It's odd. Women used to do better and there used to be more female contestants. It was the norm for women to do better than men. Then something changed. I'm not sure what."

Mastermind was first aired on the BBC in 1972. Its creator, Bill Wright, drew on his memories of being interrogated by the Nazis as a prisoner of war.