Rev. Richard Sturch, former vicar of Islip
Many people in the Otmoor area may have forgotten that Richard Sturch was the 1996 Mastermind Champion
The 1996 Mastermind champion was Rector of the parish of Islip. He had previously appeared on Brain of Britain but had been defeated in his heat by another future Mastermind champion, Kevin Ashman. Richard Sturch was not the first clergyman to appear on the programme, but he claimed that he applied primarily to demonstrate the intellect of the clergy, which he thought was not fully recognised. It must have come as a surprise to learn that he would be up against three other men of the cloth, as it had been decided that an entire heat would be devoted to clerical contestants! Still, it did not throw him off his stride - he scored 18 on 'The Life and Literature of Charles Williams' and finished as the winner on 32. In his semi-final, Richard Sturch scored 19 on 'The Emperor Frederick III' to lie joint first (with Boris Starling) at the halfway stage; he subsequently forged ahead to win with 34.In the final Richard Sturch found himself up against stiff opposition. He scored 19 on 'The Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan', putting him at the end of the first round jointly in the lead with Gwen Kingsley; However, he had one pass whereas Gwen had none. In the second round the first two contestants to go finished on 27 and 30, so it seemed as if he would have an easily achievable target. However, for the first time it seemed as if his nerve had broken - he had a high number of passes in the second round and finally finished on 32, which was a creditable score but an easy target for Gwen Kingsley to surpass. However, Gwen could only get to 30, making Richard Sturch the undisputed champion. He had certainly proved his point about the intellect of the clergy but at the expense of placing demands on his nervous energy - he claimed that his experience aroused in him a mild terror which he likened to that induced by a fairground helter-skelter ride!