Britain's Brightest was an amazing experience, both taking part and watching it back afterwards. I wanted to share a few thoughts from an insider's point of view, having been on the show.
Are all the challenges are a bit random?
When they were advertising for contestants, the BBC was very clear that they wanted to test all-round intelligence. It's not just a maths quiz, or a word test or a general knowledge contest - the show ambitiously tries to include all types of intelligence such as emotional intelligence and observational intelligence. And it is ambitious, because these aren't always skills that people associate with intelligence. I certainly had a hard time up against the trampoline challenge (performed by the amazing Everything Acrobatic) where I needed to keep track of 4 moving acrobats at once - school didn't prepare me for that!
It looks so easy at home
In the very first episode Clare Balding makes a point about the contestants having to compete against themselves, as well as the other participants, because of the effect that nerves have on you. The Stop the Clock event is the best example of this. If you look at the word grid, not under pressure, it's very easy to find 4 letter words - the grid is overflowing with them. Looking back at the Stop the Clock event on my qualifying round, where I scored a pitiful -1 points and sat for 20 seconds with just the word HELP written above my head (it was the only word I could find in the grid), it seems crazy that I couldn't find more words. The Britain's Brightest games designers (maybe the brightest folks of all) designed the game deliberately to have this effect, as they explain on the BBC site. The same part of your brain is needed to track time and find words. So either you lose track of time, or you can't find any words!
Why should we care about intelligence anyway?
Britain's Brightest was a lot of fun, but although it did measure intelligence to a certain degree it couldn't assess it in the context of all the life skills that help us to succeed. Focusing on intelligence as an attribute that you are born with is particularly unhelpful (this is called having a fixed mindset, rather than a growth mindset). Instead, learning is the key to developing and getting better: the people who are good at maths are likely good because they were encouraged when they were younger, rather than having an inbuilt "mathematical mind". Britain's Brightest is a great show to help people to aspire to get better and I hope that one day we'll see a BBC show about learning, as well as just intelligence.
Managing Director of Softwire, technology and backgammon presenter. Plus a little bit of new music radio.