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'Lay off Holly, at least she tried Mastermind'

CELEBRITY Mastermind host, Nora Owens, has branded jibes at contestant Holly Carpenter as "completely unfair".

The former Miss Ireland (20) took part on the show last week and has received criticism about her low score of 12.

However, former Minister for Justice Nora has blasted those poking fun at the beauty.

"A lot of people who were approached for the show turned it down out of fear of being publicly embarrassed -- that's why I say fair play to Holly."

"She came on, she was very game, she looked splendid and she did the best she could. It's completely unfair for people to laugh at her; it's much harder than it looks when you're sitting there with the spotlight on you."

And she added that Holly was most likely "rusty" with her general knowledge due to her increasingly busy year.

"A lot of the questions were very topical and Holly has been so busy and mightn't have been catching up as much as she could have been. But look -- she raised €500 for charity and took part for a good cause so well done to her."

Nora (67) also told the Herald of her delight that the show has been so well received by the public.

"The whole process has been so exciting and interesting. I have had so many nice comments; people telling me how much they are enjoying the show and that it's been great so far.

"I have heard some negative comments too, that there should be more jokes, but the show is heavily formatted and we have to follow it according to the Mastermind 'bible'."