Child Genius. Clever kids, pushy parents and the questions from hell

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Child Genius. Clever kids, pushy parents and the questions from hell

July 14, 2016 - 08:31
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Stepping seamlessly into the pivotal precocious-brat role, the strangely named Mog soared off to a flying start…

Child Genius with Richard Osman and the young candidates

Stepping seamlessly into the pivotal precocious-brat role, the strangely named Mog soared off to a flying start…

Outlining his strong views on the welfare system, he boomed: “Some kids they think: ‘Ooh when I get out of school if I don’t do well in my A levels there’s going to be benefits to support me’. China doesn’t have a benefits system and look how well their children do.” Mog is 12.

Straight out of central casting, this junior bespectacled boffin is also the runaway star of the latest strangely compelling series of Child Genius. Welcome to Channel 4’s annual excursion into the weird world of pushy parents and their gifted offspring.

Maths prodigy Mog learns foreign languages for fun and is currently mastering Mandarin, South Pacific (“incorporating elements of Hawaiian”) and Korean.

“One of my favourite words is German,” he revealed. “It’s backpfeifengesicht. It simply means someone who deserves a punch in the face.” He’s just a little boy so let none of us respond: “Like you, Mog.”

Actually, he’s an extremely likeable if unusual lad whose daunting brilliance clearly wears his loving family out.

His waitress mother Tiffany sighed: “His brain is like a super-fast ticking clock. He’s a very unique person.” Meanwhile, as Mog gobbles up knowledge with a voracious passion, his dad Paul shakes his head in astonishment.

Naturally, when new quizmaster Richard Osman put this remarkable youngster through his paces he reeled off a quick-fire succession of frighteningly correct answers in record time. “Blimey,” gasped Osman. Mog will be hard to beat.

“I want to take part,” he declared. “Because I want to prove that you don’t need pushy parents or to be pushed to win this competition.” Refreshing. No doubt about it… Mog the magnificent runs on his own steam. He neither needs nor has pushy parents.

Not so 11 year-old Essex boy Christopher, whose go-getting dad Simon borders on disturbing. To prepare for the big moment, father and son have been studying every single episode of Child Genius dating back to the very beginning.

“I am completely convinced Christopher is going to be able to show the other people that he really is a genius,” gushed Simon. “Eyes definitely on the prize.” His wife Lien conceded that her husband is “very full on”. Something of an understatement.

While Simon sat in the audience frowning his displeasure, nerves got the better of poor Chris. But after a resurgent performance in the memory test he scraped through to the next round. “Wow, yeah!” whooped Superdad. “I was on a journey there.” It was all about Simon.

As always, the questions were dazzlingly difficult. Only one hopeful failed to get anything right. Full marks to Mr Osman for resisting the temptation to tell Max he was leaving the podium pointless.

Asked to describe his rival contestants, Max giggled: “No offence… nerds.” This kid was just a bit too normal for this programme. He only speaks four languages.

Unlike 11 year-old Sophia, whose big brother Curtis staged his bid for the Child Genius crown two years ago. Musical maestro Curtis – who plays the piano wearing a Mozart costume - and cerebral Sophia are junior ice skating champions. Makes you sick.

The dynamic duo’s mother Hayley is also their agent. Beaming with insufferable pride, she said: “It’s been pointed out to me that they could be the next Torvill and Dean. The plan is to build up their names to get a good brand so they have companies supporting them. Like the Beckhams did.” Makes you even sicker.

Anyway, this all adds up to very watchable telly. Although the 16 brainbox children and their mums and dads are a tad out of the ordinary, there’s no nastiness.

And in his impressive debut, comparatively dim Cambridge graduate Osman got the tone just right. Lost in admiration, he announced: “I am so thick.”

Don’t miss next week’s instalment which features the two and only Jack-Bob. So bright they named him twice.