Why those excruciating Eggheads crack me up, says Jaci Stephen

They pompous, patronising and bad losers - but that's what makes the BBC's teatime quiz Eggheads such annoyingly compulsive TV

We know them as the Eggheads, and they are, according to the BBC2 show that has made them cult viewing, 'the greatest quiz players in Britain'. And every weekday, at 6pm, their skills are pitted against a different quiz team.


Eggheads: Judith Keppel, the first person to win £1m on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and right, Chris Hughes, winner of Brain of Britain and Mastermind

Each individual from the rival team takes on one of the five Eggheads in a head-to-head round of three multiple choice questions, and goes to sudden death without multiple choice if the scores are equal at the end. The winners of the head-to-heads compete in the final showdown that follows the same format.

But on 24 October this year, a previously unheard of, astonishing event took place that had fans on the edge of their seats: up against their challengers, The London Rollergirls, the Eggheads were beaten in their head-to-head rounds, leaving only Kevin Ashman to face their rivals.

The shock. The shame. The tension. How we rejoiced as each Egghead went down to the girls; and how we cried when, against the odds, Kevin emerged victorious.

The fact is: we all want the Eggheads to lose. Smug, smirking, bad losers, it is as if they have walked straight out of a travelling circus: brain freaks, who we, as voyeurs, watch with morbid fascination.


Cracking game: CJ de Mooi is a Mensa chess champ is a real know-all, says Jaci, while she says Kevin Ashman, right, winner of every competition out there including Brain of Britain and Mastermind, is the best of the bunch

Kevin is by far the best of the bunch. Blessed with a modicum of humility, he has won pretty much everything, including Mastermind and Brain Of Britain. Judith Keppel was the first person to win £1 million on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, but on Eggheads looks in a permanent state of advanced rigor mortis.

Then there's Chris Hughes, who has also won Brain Of Britain and Mastermind, but sports the kind of rugby shirts you see when England has gone its full 90 minutes with the All Blacks. When Chris answers a question, he insists on filling us in with every associated fact, all the while preening himself and looking as if his head is slowly being eaten by his shoulders.

But if we're talking about preening, it is CJ de Mooi who really takes the biscuit; no, actually, an entire McVitie factory.

He was a Mensa chess champion, although how he could keep his mouth shut long enough to move a pawn, let alone finish a game, is a mystery. CJ is the real know-all.

He loves himself, although it is hard to see how he can with such dreadful shirts. But I especially dislike CJ's treatment of fellow Egghead Daphne Fowler, a Brain Of Britain winner.

Now, Daphne is a gently spoken lady with as bizarre a taste in blouses as CJ has in shirts, but should not be underestimated. CJ never misses an opportunity to sneer at what he perceives as her lack of worldliness, and he looks as if he might be about to commit hara-kiri when she gets a question wrong. So lay off her CJ, okay?

I love Eggheads; so do many of my friends. It's our cocktail half hour and the most enjoyable 30 minutes of the day. I just hate those words, 'Eggheads, you've won.' There is nothing more pleasing than an Egghead with egg on his or her face (an omelette in CJ's case), and now, with its sister show, Are You An Egghead?, the race is on to find someone else to join the team. It seems that we just can't get enough of the epidemic of smugness that is now BBC2 in the afternoon. •

Eggheads is BBC2 on weekdays at 6pm.