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New 'Mastermind' host Clive Myrie: 'It's a dream come true!'

Clive Myrie sitting behind the host's desk in the Mastermind studio
Clive Myrie in the Mastermind studio (Image credit: BBC)

There's a new host at the helm of Mastermind when it returns to BBC2 for its latest series. Journalist Clive Myrie takes over the host's chair from John Humphreys, who has presented the show since it was revived in 2003. 

As a former foreign correspondent and a regular presenter of BBC1's news bulletins, we know that Clive is used to asking the difficult questions, but how did he feel about presenting one of TV's most revered quizzes?

We spoke to Clive ahead of his Mastermind debut to find out more...

Clive Myrie on becoming Mastermind's new presenter

"When they said I'd got the job, I was incredibly flattered and really chuffed! It's a dream come true, considering that it's a programme I watched growing up as a kid, under Mr Magnusson [original host Magnus Magnusson], and of course it's been in the hands of the brilliant John Humphreys for the last 18 years. So, big shoes to fill, but I'm really looking forward to it."

What do you remember about watching Mastermind when you were younger?

"Oh, just the chair! And Magnus Magnusson — usually in a jacket that was brown, I seem to recall. And just the sense of dread — I could feel my heart pounding for the contenders who were involved, and the spotlight, and the nerves. It was something that the whole family watched. I was lucky to get anything on the specialist subject round sometimes — I did try to maybe get five or six on the general knowledge round when I was a kid, and on a good day more than that! It was an important part of my education, I suppose, and I'd like that legacy to continue, for it to be educational for all the viewers as well as entertaining."

Clive Myrie standing in the Mastermind studio next to the contestants' leather chair

Clive with the iconic leather chair used by the contestants. (Image credit: BBC)

Did you speak to John about it before you started?

"No, I haven't spoken to John, so when I started filming, I was going into it clean, but with a legacy in my head of John, of Peter Snow [who hosted Mastermind on Radio 4 from 1998-2000], of Clive Anderson [who hosted the show on Discovery Channel from 2001-2002] and of course Magnus, and there was very much an attempt to bring out some of that gentility that Magnus Magnusson had. While it will remain the toughest quiz on television, I want the contenders to feel that they can give their best — that I'm not an obstacle to that!"

Was your first day in the studio daunting?

"Absolutely! Are you kidding me? Absolutely! That was the chair that belonged to one of the greatest broadcasters of our generation, John Humphreys, and those are very, very big shoes to fill. I hope I've made it my own, that I've put my own personality on the show. If people are expecting John Humphreys, they're not going to get John Humphreys because we're different people and we have different personalities — but we both want the best for the show!"

We know you from news and current affairs — does Mastermind feel like a change of pace for you?

"It is, compared to the day job, but anyone who knows me knows there are many sides to my personality — it isn't just doom and gloom, talking about horrible things going on in the world. I've been on Would I Lie To You?, Have I Got News For You a couple of times, Richard Osman's House Of Games — I like a bit of fun! So yes, it's different to the day job, but it's all part of who I am."

The decorated glass bowl awarded to the Mastermind series champion

The decorated glass bowl that the winner will receive. (Image credit: BBC)

What has surprised you most about the job so far?

"I suppose it's getting used to the importance of the occasion for the contenders. I've come across a few people — particularly the celebrities, it has to be said — who've probably thought that the night before that they can just go on Wikipedia and have a look at their specialist subject and that'll be enough. That is not the case with our serious contenders who are battling it out for that beautiful Caithness glass bowl. We had one gentleman who couldn't be part of the series last year because of a family issue, then he contracted COVID and couldn't be part of the series just gone, and he's finally, finally made it — there's a commitment there that I think is so incredible."

The new series of Mastermind begins on Monday August 23 at 7.30pm on BBC2.