Jim prepares for a final visit to the famous black chair

Jim Maginnis reached the Mastermind semi-finals in his first appearance in the show in 1991
Jim Maginnis reached the Mastermind semi-finals in his first appearance in the show in 1991

Lurgan man Jim Maginnis is aiming to conquer the terrifying black chair and lift the 2016 Mastermind title on Friday night.

Jim, an RAF Squadron Leader at Aldergrove is no stranger to this quiz show, which is well known for its challenging questions, intimidating setting and air of seriousness.

“In 1991 I took ‘RAF Bomber Command 1939-1945’ in the first round and ‘The History of Belfast 1690-1960’ in the semis,” explained Jim.

“In the semis I was in the lead after the specialist subject round with 18 correct, no passes and one wrong and that was in the days when questions were ‘snappy’. However, I blew up in the Genral Knowledge round getting only eight correct and I finished second or third.

Competing in this year’s competition Jim sailed through his round into the semi finals, answering 14 questions and giving 14 perfect answers with no hesitation in his specialist subject.

“I was fortunate, that this time around there was more of an overlap than I had expected between ‘The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Harris’ and Bomber Command operations,” he added. “For the semis I chose yet another ‘short’ historical topic - ’Ulster Since The Plantation 1609-1960’.”

With a place in the grand final at stake Jim faced quiz master John Humphrys answered questions like - In 1609, the Solicitor General for Ireland proposed sending settlers from mainland Britain to Ulster, which he referred to as “a barbarous country”. What was his name? and The Society of United Irishmen, formed in Belfast in 1791 wanted “a cordial union among all “the people of Ireland”. Who was the Dublin lawyer and revolutionary leader who named the society?

Jim gave an impressive 11 correct answers going into the General Knowledge round with a total of 19 to beat.

With just two passes he saw off the other four semi finalists in style to win with 22 points, two points ahead of the nearest competitor to book his place in the final.

With specialist subjects such as The Thunderbirds; English Test Crickets since 1970; Elizabeth Gaskel; The Seven Years War 1754-1763; The Ryder Cup 1927-2014 and The Battle for Berlin April-May 1945, this prestigious quiz reaches its conclusion on Friday evening at 9pm on BBC 2, when John Humphrys will invite Jim and the other five finalists to make one last visit to the famous black chair as they attempt to win the glass bowl and the title of Mastermind.