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Genre Quiz show
Running time 30 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Languages English
Home station BBC Radio 4
Starring Ned Sherrin (until 2006), Edward Seckerson (2007), Paul Gambaccini (2008–)
Air dates since 1986
Opening theme Bach: Partita in E Major
Website Counterpoint

Counterpoint is a BBC Radio 4 music quiz originally hosted by Ned Sherrin (1986–2006). In the chair for the 2007 series was Edward Seckerson with Paul Gambaccini taking over for 2008. The current run started on 24 March and transmission is on a Monday at 1.30pm, with a repeat the following Saturday at 11pm.

The quiz splits into three "movements" (or rounds). The first round gives five questions to each contestant, two of which are illustrated by short musical pieces. Two points are given for a correct answer, and if the answer is incorrect the other contestants may buzz in for one point. If there is a tie at the end of this round, a further buzzer question is asked to determine the contestants' order for the next round.

The middle round is a solo round, based on the format of Mastermind, although with the difference that the contestants have not chosen, or been given advance warning of, the specialist subjects. Four categories of questions are offered, some of which are very specific (for example "Beethoven's Piano Sonatas"), while others are more general (for instance "Sunshine and rain"), what Sherrin described as 'portmanteau' rounds. The person leading after the first round gets to choose from the four categories, the runner-up chooses from three, and the contestant in last place decides between the remaining two. Each round consists of eight questions, including three musical cues. Again two points are given for a correct answer; however in this round questions answered incorrectly are not offered to the other contestants.

The final round consists of about twenty questions, all of which are on the buzzers. The first person to buzz may answer for a point. If they are incorrect then they will lose a point, and there are no bonuses.

Counterpoint is mostly about classical music, but it does include a considerable proportion of questions about jazz, pop, and other forms of modern music. These often prove to be panel-beaters.

Each edition features three contestants, and only the winner of each show progresses to the next round. The series is complete in 13 weeks, and has been running in Radio 4's Monday afternoon quiz slot since 1998. Three main question-setters have been used by the programme in its first twenty years: Ian Gillies, otherwise 'Mycroft' of Brain of Britain (1986–2000); David Kenrick, the 1986 champion (1987– ); and Stephen Follows, a former Mastermind and University Challenge champion, who also holds the programme's individual scoring records (2001– ). Counterpoint has been produced since 2001 by Paul Bajoria.

The current Counterpoint theme is Bach's "Partita in E major", arranged & performed by Jacques Loussier. For one series it was opened by a specially commissioned piece entitled "Counterpoint", by musician Ray Davies.



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