At the age of 71 quiz fanatic Hamish Cameron pulled off the remarkable feat of reaching the grand final of Mastermind for a second time and will be seen by millions of viewers throughout the UK tonight as he attempts to win one of quizzing’s most prestigious competitions.
But it will be a bitter-sweet occasion for family, friends and erstwhile team-mates, as the retired IT manager from Elgin did not live to see himself make that final nerve-wracking walk to the black chair.
Mr Cameron died last week and the funeral will take place just hours before the broadcast.
The BBC considered postponing the show. But Mr Cameron’s family urged them to go ahead as planned, insisting it is what he would have wanted. The BBC plans to conclude the programme with a special tribute to him.
“When he did the Mastermind final he said ‘If I am not here, make sure the programme still goes out,’” his son Niall said yesterday.
Niall will sit down with his mother Edna, sisters Mairi and Isla, grandchildren and other family members to watch the programme at Mr Cameron’s home in Elgin tonight. “It will be tough to watch,” said Niall.
“But Hamish wouldn’t want us to be sad, but to find the positives. It’s quite strange timing. But, knowing Hamish, he would see the irony in it.”
Mr Cameron was already ill when the final was recorded last November, taking as his specialist subject the American artist Mary Cassatt. He was diagnosed with cancer shortly after the recording.
Many of Britain’s top quizzers know each other and play in regular competitions and Mr Cameron travelled to Edinburgh and farther afield in search of competition.
“I had met him a few times,” said Mark Grant, one of tonight’s other finalists. “Sometimes when you encounter people in the final, there is a frisson of competition, but he was just really nice. He was just a lovely guy.”
No one appeared on Mastermind more often. He first appeared on the series in 1990 when Magnus Magnusson was asking the questions. He appeared in eight separate series, he made the semi-finals in all but one of them and the final on his last appearance in 2014. That is 17 programmes in total.
He also appeared on the radio version of Mastermind, was a winner on 15 to 1, was part of the “Dude Abides” quiz team that won the Scottish championship two years running and helped Scotland win the Celtic Nations championship a few years ago.
Mr Cameron represented Scotland internationally not only at quizzing, but also at running, representing the country in veteran competitions. He was ranked in the Top 20 in the UK for 10 kilometres in the 65+ age bracket.