Horsham mum takes to mastermind for quiz on Leonardo da Vinci

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A mum-of-two from Horsham has said it was ‘surreal’ to sit in the famous Mastermind chair, in an episode to be aired this Friday.

Claire Slater from Brighton Road spent months researching Leonardo da Vinci as her specialist subject for the BBC show.

A pharmacist of more than 25 years, Claire said it was ‘bizzare’ to be called up by the producer last April to be told she’d made it through to the live show, after a lengthy application process.

She said: “I just did it for me. I’m doing a bucket list because I’m going to be 50 next August, and going on a TV quiz was something I said I’d do and I thought, let’s do it!

“It’s all happened very fortuitously.”

She said filming the episode meant an application process involving general knowledge questions and interviews, followed by a trip to a BBC studio for hair and make up and the long-awaited quiz in the signature chair.

“It was surreal, I’ve got nothing to compare it with, I didn’t really get nervous because I was first up and I didn’t have time,” she said.

“John Humpfrys was a bit scary, there was no chatting with him beforehand.

“It’s pretty much as you see the programme, I did enjoy it.”

Claire, who grew up just 15 miles from where Leonardo Da Vinci lived in France, said she was fascinated by the artist’s life and work, particularly his anatomical drawings and inventions.

In the run up to the show, Claire spent an hour a day reading and learning more about Da Vinci, who wasn’t allowed to go to school as an illegitamate child.

After filming, the family took a trip to France to see what she had been learning about.

Claire said: “He’s one of the best humans who ever existed, because the stuff he invented, that he did, is just mind-blowing.

“I’m really really pleased I did him as a subject, I learned much more than I would ever have done.”

She said husband Julian and her two daughters Kathryn and Helen had been wonderfully supportive.

Kathryn said: “I’m very proud of her and I think she’s amazing just for having the guts to apply.

“Plus I now know loads more about Da Vinci!”

To find out how far Claire gets, watch Mastermind on BBC2 on Friday at 8pm or view it on BBC iPlayer.