Polmont salesman’s date with destiny in the famous black chair

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A Polmont tool salesman proved his grey matter was still working perfectly by reaching the final of Mastermind after having a brain haemorrhage.

John Savage has gone from no-hoper to potential winner of Mastermind after clinching one of the show’s most exciting rounds, following up on his first round win with a specialist round on Celtic FC – the first time anyone has chosen to answer questions about the club on the show.

The father-of-one showed he’s a very clever Bhoy and will take his place in the famous black chair in the 2013 final show which will be aired tomorrow (Friday) at 7.30 p.m. on BBC2.

Last Friday saw John take on three other hopefuls in a dramatic semi-final heat, winning with 21 points and no passes. Two other contestants had the same points but having passed on some questions.

Presenter John Humphrys said he had never seen such a close contest on the show.

John’s remarkable win came 18 months after he suffered a potentially fatal subarachnoid haemorrhage on the brain which required treatment to save his life.

John, who celebrated his 53rd birthday on Monday, said: “I didn’t need brain surgery or anything, but I had to take pills every four hours for two weeks. It’s quite a scary thing.”

Speaking about the semi final round on Mastermind he said: “It was really close, but to be honest I wasn’t counting how many correct questions the other contestants had. Part of my strategy was to have no passes, but you can’t just say anything to an answer, it’s really frowned upon.”

After the first round of questions on his chosen subject, Nazi Germany 1933-45, John was in last place on eight points but, as in the first show, he aced the general knowledge round to become one of the six finalists tomorrow.

His journey started last May when he first filled in questions on the Mastermind website and scored 100 per cent. He then completed an online application to appear with the chosen subjects of Celtic, World War II and chart music.

The next stage was 20 phone questions and, following that, he was asked to go for interviews at the BBC studio in Edinburgh before making the cut.

Modest John, who works in internal sales at Scott Direct in Grangemouth, is playing down his victory, but he explained how his subjects for the semi and final were chosen.

He said: “Two of my subjects had to be changed.

“Celtic was okay, but they said World War II and UK chart music were too general so I suggested doing the Nazis and 1970s UK chart music.

“I entered thinking I wouldn’t even stand a chance of getting on the first show, never mind winning two rounds and reaching the final. I didn’t think I had what it took. I didn’t really swot that hard for the shows either, but I do have good general knowledge because I read all the time. I’ve got a room in the house that’s like a library – all that’s in it are books. Once I’ve read them I take them all to a car boot sale and spend the money on more books.”

Because of his chosen subject for the final, John was taken to London’s renowned SARM music studios to shoot a brief film about his life. He was also a guest on BBC Scotland radio sports show ‘Off the Ball’ on Saturday.

However John, who lives with wife Lynne and son Andrew (14), is staying tight-lipped on who is this year’s Mastermind champ.

He said: “You’ll just have to watch and see.”




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