BY YANN TEAR
A family from Pimlico were first-round winners in a new BBC TV series called The Family Brain Game – hosted by comedian Dara Ó Briain.
The show was broadcast on Monday and is the first in a series featuring eight families from all walks of life in competition to outsmart each other.
The contestants come together in a ‘games lab’ to compete in the ultimate test of intelligence, and the Ross family rose to the challenge, to advance to next week’s semi-finals.
Each episode, screened on BBC2, sees two families go head-to-head in a series of ingenious games, designed in association with a leading cognitive neuroscientist from Imperial College London.
Neuroscientist Dr Hannah Critchlow co-presents the show.
The triumphant Ross family comprised mum Katie, 46, financier, Jonathan, 43, and their children Amelia, 14, and Alexander, 12.
“At times it was very stressful and intense,” mum Katie said.
“It isn’t easy to be under the spotlight and under pressure, feeling that you must do your best for the other members of your team in front of the cameras.
“The film crew were great fun, very kind and understanding.
“We enjoyed the filming, and even though I had been on TV before, it is very different being the subject of a programme rather than the presenter. Dara was wonderful.
“He made us feel at ease like a host at a good dinner party, and it helped that he has children of a similar age as he could relate to our experience.”
She added: “We felt relieved and happy that we got through the first heat. It would have been so disappointing to go home at that point, particularly as we were really enjoying it.”
Going beyond traditional ideas about how to measure brain power, such as individual IQ, the games also explore the power of group intelligence.
Alongside areas like numeracy, verbal reasoning, lateral thinking and memory, the families’ mental agility is also tested in a range of more surprising areas including communication, strategy and risk, now seen by experts as critical components of 21st century intelligence.
As the families tackle each demanding challenge, documentary cameras follow them behind the scenes, helping us to understand what makes these relationships tick by exploring their family dynamics and their response to the pressure of intense competition.
At school, Katie was insistent about taking the Mensa test and achieved a score of 164, putting her in the top 0.1 per cent bracket.
She studied Human Sciences at St John’s College, Oxford.
Katie was a former BBC presenter on Tomorrow’s World and Country File and has written a revision book for children.
Jonathan studied at Oxford University and received a double first.
He speaks Latin and wants to take part in the competition to further our understanding of intelligence.
Eldest daughter Amelia has developed a ‘perfect pitch’ which means she can sing any note perfectly, tune her violin and name any note played.
She was awarded a distinction in her Grade 8 violin and is now working towards her performance certificate.
She has successfully taken part in the junior mathematical challenges.
Youngest son Alexander can complete a variety of different Rubik’s cubes in under a minute. He loves geology and has an impressive rock collection.