Thursday 22 March 2018

Child Genius victory overshadowed by Twitter fury at mother’s intervention

Rhea wins Channel 4's Child Genius.
Rhea wins Channel 4's Child Genius.

Ten-year-old Rhea was crowned the winner of Channel 4’s Child Genius last night, after a tense final saw the general knowledge champion go head to head with nine-year-old rival Saffy.

But, while no one doubted Rhea’s prowess – she won after correctly spelling the word "eleemosynary" – her success was overshadowed by the fact that her mother Sonal had intervened earlier on in the competition, to claim that her daughter had been unfairly docked of a point.

People on Twitter were quick to criticise Sonal, accusing her of being “pushy” and of forgetting that the show is "just a game".

But others felt that Sonal was right to prevent her daughter from unfairly losing out.

The controversy came after the 10-year-old was asked "To which medical officer did Florence Nightingale report to in the Crimea?" during a preliminary round. She responded with “Dr Duncan Menzies”, and was told the answer was incorrect.

Her mother than complained that the way in which the question was worded was too general.

Independent adjudicator Olivia van der Werff upheld the objection – Menzies was indeed the principal medical officer at the hospital where Nightingale served during the Crimean War, and Rhea’s interpretation of the question and answer were therefore technically correct – and the future champion was awarded her place in the final, at the expense of fellow contestant Stephen.

'It has really been worth getting up early, going to sleep late, studying,” Rhea said after her victory. “ It just feels really, really great.”

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