Leeds quizzer extraordinaire Barry Simmons has made it through to the finals of BBC Radio 4’s Brain of Britain 2013 – but not everyone is rejoicing.
The BBC confirmed that “there have been five official complaints from people who think it’s unfair that [Mr Simmons] is allowed to compete”.
Complaints against the former IT consultant, a member of Leeds’ Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue, were made last Friday on Radio 4’s Feedback programme.
One critic said the show should be reserved for amateurs: “I don’t think ‘professional’ quizzers, i.e. the Eggheads and the Chasers, should be allowed on other quiz shows”.
The decision to put Mr Simmons, a self-described “professional quizzer”, on to Brain of Britain has been labelled “unfair” by some, as the 64-year-old was a semi-finalist on Mastermind, has already won £64,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and won the BBC2 show Are you an Egghead?
“I do make my living by quizzing,” agreed 64-year-old Mr Simmons, who now works as a professional Egghead eight weeks a year. Scottish-born and a member of the Scots national quiz team, he challenged his critics. “If a world-class sportsman has come to the top of his profession, should he not be allowed to represent his country at a national event?
“It would have been unfair of the BBC to deny me the opportunity to compete when my colleague, Chris Hughes, was also an Egghead when he went on Brain of Britain”.
A BBC spokesperson confirmed: “There is no rule banning Eggheads from appearing on Brain of Britain — the only rule is that former champions are not allowed to return.”
After his time on Eggheads concludes, Mr Simmons would like “to have another shot at Mastermind. I’m going to apply the minute I finish,” he said.
Mr Simmons, a father of two, is married to Janet, a former deputy head of Brodetsky Primary School.
The Brain of Britain final will be broadcast on Radio 4 on March 18.