Britain's Best Brain Series Finale

Wednesday 16th December 8.00pm

Much-loved presenting duo Jamie Theakston and Zoe Ball conclude their search for the best brain in the country. In the grand final, the five highest scorers from the series return for the chance to win the ‘Britain’s Best Brain’ trophy and £10,000. The five finalists are 42-year-old builder Chris, 29-year-old marketing consultant Matt, 38-yearold midwife Jo, 22-year-old telecoms agent Mike and Andrew, a 36-year-old optician.

Five have reunited sparky presenting team Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston for the first time in nearly a decade. After four years on ‘Live and Kicking’ and four series of ‘The Priory’, the pair went their separate ways – but now they are back together for an exciting search to find Britain’s best brain.

A nationwide hunt took place over the summer to discover the untapped brainpower of British people from all walks of life – from posties to professors, doctors to dustmen. Success on this show is not about academic qualifications, but about how the brain functions under stressful conditions.

‘Britain’s Best Brain’ puts contestants through a series of gruelling games designed to push them to their mental and physical limits. Each of the onehour studio-based shows sees competitors tackle five tasks, which have been scientifically created to test different functions of the brain – memory, coordination, calculation, recognition and risk.

The first challenge, calculation, is designed to test the parietal lobe. Players are asked ten mentalarithmetic questions. As they try to answer they are distracted by continuous sound effects, including loud music. Mike, the youngest player in the final at 22, is the first to go. Maths is not his strong point, but he manages to answer six questions correctly. “That’s a bit better than last time so I’m happy with that,” he says.

Throughout the show each contestant takes a turn on the ‘gyroscope’. This rapidly revolving machine is designed to test the cerebellum, the area of the brain that controls coordination. The contestants are strapped into the device and must transfer electronic ‘sand’ from one side of a computerised egg timer to the other. This was builder Chris’s strongest round in the heats and he hopes to win back some points after a poor first round. “I’ve got to claw it back with this,” he says. In the event, Chris performs well with a time of 33.9 seconds, but it is midwife Jo who comes out on top with an impressive time of 23.5 seconds.

Next up is the memory challenge, which tests the temporal lobe. The group is shown images of ten celebrities paired with incongruous objects. Players must then put the pairs back together. In first place since the calculation round, marketing consultant Matt once again scores highest, with 270 points from a possible 300. Meanwhile, Chris’s performance sees him drop from third place to fifth. “There’s no getting away from it – that round was a disaster for Chris,” says Jamie.

The fourth challenge tests recognition, the function governed by the occipital lobe. The players are shown ten different shapes and must identify which elements make up specific images. As an optician, 36-year-old Andrew should do well in this challenge, although that was not the case in the heats. “It was poor for me last time and it shouldn’t have been,” he says.

Finally, the contestants are tested on their ability to judge risk – the area regulated by the frontal lobe. The five competitors each fill up a giant balloon with air by pressing a button. They must abandon the balloon when they think it is about to burst – but the last person standing gets the highest score. Going into the last round, Matt is clinging on to the top spot with 807 points, but Jo is just 48 points behind. Chris is languishing in last place – but with 300 points up for grabs in the risk challenge, anything could happen. “The title of ‘Britain’s Best Brain’ is about to be decided by a sixfoot tall bright red balloon,” says Zoe. All five of the contestants have come a long way, but who will claim the ultimate prize?

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