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Tributes paid to teacher and author who proved BBC Mastermind wrong

PUBLISHED: 07:01 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:15 17 July 2020

Dr Richard Joby watches himself on Mastermind. Picture: Archant library

Dr Richard Joby watches himself on Mastermind. Picture: Archant library

Archant

A former geography teacher who once proved Mastermind question writers wrong on his specialist subject has died.

A letter sent to Dr Richard Joby by the BBC after he was incorrectly told an answer he gave was wrong. Picture: Archant libraryA letter sent to Dr Richard Joby by the BBC after he was incorrectly told an answer he gave was wrong. Picture: Archant library

Richard Joby, who taught in North Walsham for several years, reached the final of the BBC quiz show in 1984, eventually claiming a fourth-place finish.

However, during the programme a correct answer he gave about the Great Eastern Railway was marked as wrong, resulting in BBC bosses having to later concede to him and apologise.

Dr Joby, who was also author of a number of books about the history of the region’s railways, was born in London on June 28, 1936, and spent a spell living in New Zealand before relocating to Norfolk.

He and his wife Dorothy moved to Hellesdon around 1966, when Dr Joby began his teaching job at what was then North Walsham High School for Girls.

Dr Richard Joby, a former geography teacher who reached the final of Mastermind. Picture: Archant libraryDr Richard Joby, a former geography teacher who reached the final of Mastermind. Picture: Archant library

They lived in Gowing Road, where the pair raised their two children, Lyn, now 56, and Christopher, now 53.

He taught at the school, which became Paston Sixth Form College, for more than 20 years, during which time he helped open the eyes of his pupils to the wider world around them.

His son said: “A lot of the children he taught at the time would have probably not even left Norfolk, but he arranged trips to places like Belgium, Norway and Austria, which really inspired them.

“As a father, travel is also one of the things that bonded us the most too, he would love taking us to different places around the world and telling us everything he knew about them.”

Away from his work, Dr Joby was a keen railway enthusiast, something his son said was “in his blood”, given his father Stanley was a locomotive fireman on the London North Eastern Railway (LNER).

He forensically researched the history of this passion and for a time served as chairman for the Norfolk Railway Society. He also published books on the topic, including Forgotten Railways: East Anglia.

Christopher Joby added: “He led a full life and comments from former pupils tell of a much-loved geography teacher who inspired them with a passion for the subject that has never left him.

“Although his passing fills family and friends with great sadness, we know that he achieved much and will be fondly remembered by many.”

And another of his great passions was quizzing, with his proudest moment being his keenly-followed run to the grand final of Mastermind in 1984.

Watched at the time by millions, Dr Joby was the only male contestant in the final four of the competition - an achievement he was greatly proud of.

His son added: “At the time, Mastermind was much more of an event than it is now, so he was incredibly proud of reaching the series final.”

However, fate stood in his way, after presenter Magnus Magnusson was handed an incorrect answer on his card during his specialist subject - the Great Eastern Railway.

“It is obviously impossible to know how much of a difference it would have made to the final outcome, but knowing my father, it definitely took him off his stride,” Christopher Joby added.

Speaking about the incident at the time, Dr Joby told this newspaper: “Who can say what would have happened if that had been marked right? But looking at it again I felt as I did on the night - that I would not have made the silly errors I did.”

After retiring from the college in the 1990s, he continued to publish works on his interests and lecture for the Open University and adult learning platform WEA.

In 2002 he suffered several strokes, which left him partially paralysed, but he continued to enjoy his interest in railways. His wife died in 2016.

He died on July 5, 2020, at the age of 84, having most recently lived at a care home near Aylsham.

He leaves his two children and two grandchildren, 32-year-old Victoria and 29-year-old Andrew.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Mid Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust or the North Walsham and Dilham Canal Trust via Memory Giving.


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