DON'T BOTHER STUDYING FOR MASTERMIND, WE'LL GIVE YOU A CRIB SHEET.. What BBC girl claimed bosses told her..
BBC bosses were flung into fresh controversy last night after a would-be Celebrity Mastermind competitor said she had been offered a "crib sheet".
Radio 5 Live presenter Victoria Derbyshire was asked to be on the quiz 10 days before filming but was worried she would not have enough time to revise her specialist subject of Thomas Hardy's novels.
But she claims she was told not to re-read the books as a crib sheet would be provided.
On her show she said: "I don't know if I should reveal this as it will probably bar me from ever being asked again, but it was such short notice when they asked me and they said: 'What would your specialist area be?', and it would probably have been the novels of Thomas Hardy.
"And they said: 'Well, don't worry about re-reading everything because we can give you a crib sheet so you would just, you know...' They would provide you ... I'm probably revealing far too much here."
Derbyshire, 40, eventually decided not to take part. Her claims emerged during a discussion on her show on Monday about the performance of MP David Lammy, the minister for higher education, who came last in the quiz with just 13 points.
Realising she may have upset her employers, Derbyshire later said: "What I meant was the Celebrity Mastermind team offered research guidance on my specialist subject area.
"This is what I meant by a crib sheet and not answers to specific questions."
She also said she decided not to take up the offer as she was not confident of getting the answers right. The BBC denied that production staff provided answers for contestants. It said: "Celebrity Mastermind does not provide crib sheets and all contestants work hard in the run-up to the recording.
"Through our extensive experience in researching and compiling questions, production have become experts in identifying helpful and accurate resource tools.
"If a contestant is struggling to find adequate information, production can point them towards these in order to prevent them from using unsuitable material.
"We ensure the questions asked on Celebrity Mastermind are interesting for the viewers as well as challenging for the celebrity contestant."
The crib sheet claim will cause even more discomfort for the BBC at the end of what has been a highly embarrassing year.
The corporation has been fined over the faking of a string of radio and TV competitions, and been stung by the public backlash caused by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross's phone messages to actor Andrew Sachs.
The show, screened earlier this week, was won by Hairy Biker Dave Myers, whose specialist subject was the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of painters. He beat MP Lammy, singer Toyah Willcox and Robin Hood actor David Harewood.
Myers had tied with Harewood on 24 points but was adjudged the winner after passing on fewer questions.
Mastermind was first screened 36 years ago and hosted by Magnus Magnusson between 1972 and 1997. Celebrity contestants have not always met the quiz's high standards. Comedian Arabella Weir and socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson both scored just six points.
I'VE STARTED SO ...
Kevin Ashman set the highest Mastermind score in 1995 with 41 points.
In 2006 Simon Curtis achieved the lowest score in a specialist round, just one point.
The original black leather chair went to host Magnus Magnusson when he retired in 1997
What I meant was that Celebrity Mastermind offered guidance
- VICTORIA DERBYSHIRE
TESTING TIME Derbyshire says she was offered help