John Humphrys quit Mastermind because he was sick of the calibre of 'celebrities'

MASTERMIND’S black leather chair is one of the most famous pieces of furniture on telly.

Unfortunately for producers, these days the iconic seat is better known than most of the people who sit in it.

I’m told that outgoing host John Humphrys, who presented more than 750 episodes of the quiz, quit after becoming fed up with the quality of stars booked.

Last year, they included Charlotte Crosby, Bez and Paul Chuckle.

It’s a far cry from the show’s glory days when household names like Ranulph Fiennes, Andrew Neil and Phil Daniels faced questions in the chair.

A source said: “They might as well lose the word Celebrity from the title.

John was looking for new challenges and becoming frustrated by the calibre of stars he was asking questions to.

“Charlotte didn’t seem to know her own name let alone anything about her chosen topic, Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises.”

One issue, I’m told, is that filming moved from Salford to Belfast two years ago after the BBC’s commercial arm, Studios, lost the tender to produce it.

The source added: “Those taking part seemed less inclined to just do it for the honour of appearing, so bookers had to work harder to convince celebs to fly over to Belfast. It seems to have a detrimental effect on the quality of names.

“Ultimately, John said enough was enough.”

Richard Osman and Samira Ahmed are thought to be in contention to replace John.

Matt the man for Mr's 50th

Matt Lucas will present a Channel 4 show celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Mr Men books.

The Great British Bake Off host and Mr Men superfan will also reveal two new characters on the programme, as voted for by the public.

50 Years Of Mr Men will trace the story of the books back to 1971, when an eight-year-old Adam Hargreaves asked his father, illustrator Roger Hargreaves: “Daddy, what does a tickle look like?”

He drew the answer in the form of the first ever Mr Men character, which grew into a whole universe including the Little Miss books.

Adam took over the empire when Roger died in 1988, and in total 85million of the books have been sold worldwide.

Matt said: “I grew up on these books and considered the Mister Men and Little Miss characters my friends.

“I am delighted to be meeting them again and look forward to finding out the story behind this iconic series.”

Fans can vote for their choice of new characters at mrmen.com.

Nesbitt's bloody return

Bloodlands is a gripping new crime thriller which starts on Sunday on BBC1, with James Nesbitt playing a detective in his native Northern Ireland.

It has echoes of fellow cop dramas Line Of Duty and Bodyguard because their creator, Jed Mercurio, is executive producer of this four-part drama.

James said: “I’ve always wanted to work with Jed. We met a long time ago. I would bump into him over the years and I was very keen.

“A few years later, this script arrived and it was just astonishing. And I am always very keen to come back and work in Northern Ireland.

“I haven’t done anything relating to the Troubles for a while. 2021 is important for Northern Ireland with the whole of the UK. It’s a very Northern Irish production, not English actors attempting Northern Irish accents.”

I sense a bugbear there.

Alan's interiors

He may be fronting new BBC2 show Interior Design Masters but don’t expect Alan Carr’s home to look the part.

The comic-turned-presenter, who brings us more interiors tomorrow night, bought his current gaff from a woman whose tastes were very much “more is more”.

He said: “If there was like a door knob there’d be a fairy on it or an angel.

“There was taffeta, chiffon, roses everywhere. I bring people round to see the house and they’re like, ‘Have a day off, Alan’.

“And I’m like, ‘No, that’s not my style, it’s just her’s’.” I believe you, Alan.

Love is in the air

CURTIS PRITCHARD’s time on E4’s Celebs Go Dating seems to have paid off if his gushing Valentine’s Day post was anything to go by.

The dancer, and brother of AJ Pritchard, wrote: “To my #Valentine you are absolutely incredible, amazing and so special . . . thank you for the gift.”

Lucky him.

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