In May 2013 I thought it was worth sending in an application form. Off it went and I heard nothing for months. I assumed that nothing was going to come of it and then out of the blue I received a phone call asking me to go to London for an audition. Very exciting! The audition went well and they said that I was now on the shortlist. A month later I had another call and was told that I was going to be on the show!
The filming was done at Elstree studios in North London on 24th April 2014. I drove there, luckily setting off an hour earlier than necessary as there was a huge lorry fire on the M25 and a few minutes later I would have been stuck and not made it. As I arrived I was amazed to see that TV teatime quiz show rival “POINTLESS” was filmed in the studio right next door!
I met the other contestants that I would be teamed with – Rod, Erika and Josh. We then spent a couple of hours being walked through the game and filming process. But first they took away all of our phones and watches! You’re not allowed to take any pictures in the studio and watches can give away points where the show is cut, so they are all removed and put into sealed bags to be returned to you after the filming.
We had been asked to take along five changes of clothes and the wardrobe team chose the outfit that would work best on camera. You can’t wear pattern, stripes, spots, swirls, anything shiny, anything black, white or pale pastel – there’s not a lot left! They then took these clothes away to be ironed, so we would all look our best on screen.
We then went through to the studio. It is a lot smaller than it seems on screen. At this point we had no idea who the Chaser was going to be. We were allowed to have a look around and shown the A B C buttons that you have to press to give an answer. They are really small and close together, so we were allowed to practice to make sure we wouldn’t accidentally press the wrong one in the heat of the moment.
We then met the host – Bradley Walsh. He was very friendly and supportive, basically saying that he’s there to help us win if at all possible. Then it was time for the filming to start!
I’d been selected to go first. My first reaction was disappointment, but then on the studio floor we were all feeling quite nervous and I was now glad that I could get my individual round out of the way quickly. I had a two minute chat with Bradley on camera (which will be cut down for broadcast) and talked about being a magician and mind-reader, playing guitar, liking Italy and hoping to win some money to go to Las Vegas , hire a film crew and film some magic over there. Brad asked me to read his mind and I said something about him, Anne (one of the Chasers) and a swimming pool full of custard which got a laugh. It also set the tone for the programme as my apparent telepathic ability to read minds and predict the future was mentioned frequently.
Then it was time for my “cash builder” round – one minute of general knowledge questions. The first one was about where on the face you would find “cupid’s bow” (the lips) which got me off to a good start. There were then other questions about Ichor (blood), Black Widow (Scarlett Johnasson) and in the end I got eight right – so had put £8000 in the bank - RESULT!
Now it was time for them to bring out the chaser. Brad asked me to predict who it would be. I said Paul Sinha and out he came - first telepathic mind reading hit! We had some banter and he asked me to predict what offers he’d make. I said lower £2000 (correct) and higher £28000 (it was £30000) – not bad.
I then asked the other contestants what they thought I should do and they generally said go for the £8000 and maybe the £30000. I went for the £8000 and my chase began.
It was a close run thing. Eventually it got down to a “one question shoot out” – meaning right and I’m through, wrong and I’m probably out. The question was “What did Edward III do with the crown jewels?” The options were A. Broke them up B. Lost them C. Pawned them. I didn’t know, but I interpreted “broke them up” as “sent them to different places, like the crown to Scotland, sceptre to Wales, etc” and went for that. Brad was horrified. “The crown jewels still exist - there’s only one answer it could be!” he said, meaning C. I realised my mistake and waited to inevitably be knocked out but – PRAISE BE – the chaser got it wrong too. (Aside - Amazingly this whole question and all of the drama around it was cut out of the final broadcast!) I had a second chance. Another questions came up, an easy one, and I was through!
I went back to the team feeling very happy and, now that was out of the way, able to relax at last.
Rod went next and got £6000 without much problem, so that’s £14000 in the pot now.
Then Erika was up and accumulated £5000, despite her nerves. Her chase was another close-run thing but she got back OK. We now had £19000 in the pot!
Next up was Josh. He had been constantly saying that he didn’t know any of the answers and we expected the worst, but then in his cash builder he got £8000 – amazing! We all thought he must have been bluffing throughout. Josh then apologised to the team, said he didn’t want to be greedy and went for the negative offer of -£3000. People on Twitter went berserk! It was rather annoying, but it would still mean £4000 each if he got back and we won the final chase.
His chase started and didn’t go too well. After some tough questions he was caught and knocked out of the game. He spent the rest of the show in the back of the studio with the crew. In a way it was quite pleasing for the rest of us as we now had three people to split £19000 – so that’s £6333 each, a nice pay day!
We now (off camera) had to pick ball A or B to choose a set of questions for the final chase. Erika did it (picking a ball out of a bag) and got ball A – which Rod and I had both hoped for, for some reason.
They now took away the stools we had been sitting on (the final chase is done standing) and we were taken through the rules of this last part of the show.
The cameras started and, just before the final chase, Brad asked me to predict what would happen. How many will you get right – I said 17. Then the questions started. I was pretty useless at this point, either I didn’t know or I was too slow and Rod or Erika answered before I could press the buzzer. Then the time was up and we had scored – YES!!! – 17. Everyone was suitably amazed.
Now it was the chaser’s turn to see if he could catch us. Brad asked me how many “push backs” we’d get and I said 3. Then he said something like “will that be enough to win” and I said “NO”. Rod and Erika looked furious! (Again this bit was cut out of the final broadcast, which was a shame) Then the chaser’s final chase started. He got about 10 right in a row and we looked doomed. Then he hit a sticky patch and we got, yes, THREE push backs mixed in with some of his right answers. Then he reeled off more correct answers and caught us with about 10 seconds to spare. We’d lost. BUT MY PREDICTIONS HAD BEEN 100% CORRECT!
(Twitter again went crazy!)
It was a shame not to win the money, but what great magic! Brad and everyone else in the studio were amazed. He commiserated with us and wrapped up the show. Normally he ends by saying “Could you beat the chaser? Come and have a go if you think you’re clever enough” but this time he said “Could you beat the chaser? Come and have a go if you think you’re TELEPATHIC enough” – awesome!
Then we left the studio, leaving Brad to redo a few lines that needed clearer audio. We got our phones/watches back and were taken out to wait for a taxi. The others were a bit down about losing the money - Rod and Erika hardly spoke to me, I think they felt I’d “jinxed” it with my amazing prediction! We hadn’t had a chance to get a photo with anyone, but then Paul Sinha came out to get his taxi and we had a brief chat and I got one quick photo with him (see below). Then our taxi arrived, took us back to the train station and me to the hotel were my car was parked and we went home. What a great day!