Sheffield Hallam University lecturer battles her way through to Mastermind Grand Final

Frances Slack on Mastermind - image courtesy of BBC
Frances Slack on Mastermind - image courtesy of BBC
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A senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University took on the menacing black chair of Mastermind and made it all the way to Friday night's final.

Frances Slack swapped lecturing in the University's computing department to answering questions on the history of Leningrad as she battled to clinch the Mastermind title.

Dr Slack showed nerves of steel as she batted off a barrage of questions legendary presenter John Humphrys on The City of Leningrad from 1924-1991.

The lecturer scored an impressive ten points on her special subject round before adding another seven in the grueling general knowledge segement, finishing with 17 points.

Despite her impressive performances, Dr Slack finished joint fifth in the stiff competition, losing out to eventual winner Isabelle Heward with 29 points.

Dr Slack has spent 17 years lecturing at Sheffield Hallam university and said she decided to apply for the iconic show after years of shouting answers at her TV.

She said: "The whole experience was really fun and it's something I've wanted to do for year. I decided to apply for it last year and was thrilled to get through the interview process.

"It was great actually being on the show and when I was in the black chair and the heat was on I just found myself thinking 'wow, I've actually done it now'.

"Although that black chair is remarkably uncomfortable as my feet couldn't even touch the floor!"

After emerging victorious from two rounds, answering questions on Rodgers and Hammerstein then the American novelist William Goldman, Dr Slack found herself competing for the title.

Dr Slack decided to choose the history of Leningrad for her final special subject after falling in love with the city during a school trip in 1971.

She said: "I followed its history closely up to when it changed its name back to Saint Petersburg. I didn't just want to do the siege of Leningrad because I wanted to look at the culture, the people and the politics as well.

"It meant I had an awful lot to read and a lot of names to learn but it was amazing to go back there. I hadn't been since school and it's very different there now.

"I was very pleased with how it went even though there were a couple that I thought I should have remembered in the general knowledge round. It's much easier when you're watching it at home but in reality it's a different kettle of fish."

Despite her impressive performance, Dr Slack said she was unsure if she would go on another quiz show. But, she joked that, if she did it would be one where she could earn "a bit more money.

To watch the final, visit -