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Brain of Britain, the longest-running of all the broadcast quiz shows open to the public in Britain, started life as part of the series What Do You Know?, hosted by Franklin Engelmann on the BBC Light Programme in 1953.

It has been on air under its current title since 1967, and from 1972 onward became indelibly associated with its second chairman, the late Robert Robinson. Robert presented his final series in 2008, and Russell Davies, who had previously stepped in as chairman when Robert was ill, took over the programme the following year.

Some Brain of Britain champions went on to enjoy long broadcasting careers. Irene Thomas, the 1961 champion, soon became doyenne of Round Britain Quiz. Bob Crampsey, who won the title in 1965, was a well-loved sports broadcaster in Scotland for many years.

The 1964 champion, Ian Gillies, became question-setter for both Brain of Britain and Counterpoint, and adopted the role of Robert Robinson's taciturn but oracular sidekick, 'Mycroft'. His place was taken, on his death in 2002, by the 1996 champion, Kevin Ashman, who in turn bowed out of the series in 2007 to concentrate on his role in BBC television's Eggheads.

The questions are now set by a team of experienced professional quiz writers, who also contribute to a variety of other quizzes on TV and radio. Brain of Britain is produced by BBC Factual Radio in Manchester, the team which also makes Counterpoint and Round Britain Quiz for Radio 4.

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