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Phone a friend? They can expect the call

Friday, February 11, 2011 - 11:15

THIS ISLAND LIFETHOSE with nothing better to do at five o’clock in the evening than watch The Chase quiz show on television may well have spotted a vaguely familiar face this week.
It was your humble columnist — and I’m oddly proud to say I left my mark by becoming the first person in the history of the show not to answer a single question correctly.
I wish I could have forewarned you of my "achievement" so as many as possible could have shared my embarrassment but when you go on these programmes you are required to sign an undertaking not to publicise the results of your efforts in advance (thank God).
It all began one evening last year when I occupied my usual position in the front room and bawled my derision at the hapless contestants as they failed to answer even the most basic questions correctly.
"Look at that doughnut! Why do people go on these shows when they’re that stupid?" was the general tenor of the remarks.
Oh, how our words come back to haunt us…
On that particular occasion, an eyebrow was raised at the far end of the settee and a voice said: "Well, if you think you are so clever …"
So I sent off my application and was granted an audition in Southampton. They are strange affairs because you find yourself corralled with horny-handed sons (and daughters) of the reference books.
These are people whose hobby is appearing on television quiz shows and they tend to greet one another like old friends.
"Hi! Did I hear you’d appeared on Weakest or was it In It to Win It?"
"Neither, actually, but I did make the last ten in Millionaire a couple of years back. Couldn’t work the blasted keypad quickly enough, though."
The auditions are not exactly strenuous. You have to look into a camera and talk about yourself for 30 seconds, provide written answers to some pre-recorded questions and play that old parlour game where you are given a word and have to help the others guess what it is by using similar words.
One of mine was "Eros", so I balanced on one leg and pretended to fire a bow and arrow (an achievement in itself).
But it received a swift admonishment. "You have to use words not actions. It’s The Chase dear, not Give Us a Clue." Somehow or other I managed to make it through to the real thing and before the recording began had a pleasant chat with the host, Bradley Walsh, about football. (He used to play for Brentford).
All was going swimmingly until I was called upon to answer about 12 questions in a minute and experienced what one of the sympathetic production team called "the pass spiral".
I prefer to refer to it as an abysmal inability to answer fairly straightforward general knowledge questions under pressure.
Oddly enough, until the programme was broadcast this week, I could only remember three of the questions. The remainder had evaporated into a miasma of panic and stumbling recall.
I took my princely nil pounds forward into the next round against the Chaser, who turned out to be Anne Heggerty, aka The Governess and Frosty Knickers.
She quickly put me out of my misery so there was nothing left to lose but have a bit of fun with her and Bradley Walsh. She turned out to be an absolute sweetheart who gave me a big hug after the ordeal was over. I’m now hoping to get her over to the Island to take part in a charity fund-raising quiz sometime in the future.
About three weeks after the debacle, I received an official-looking invitation from a new TV production company who said they had heard about my "outstanding success" on The Chase and were inviting me to take part in a new quiz they were developing called Are You More Intelligent Than Your Pet?
This proved to be the handiwork of my "friends" Messrs Ray Winter and Dean Sullivan, both of whom are advised to keep looking over their shoulder for the next few years. I will have my revenge.
My wife and daughter (who watched the programme through spread fingers and from behind a cushion respectively) have now advised me to apply for The Weakest Link on the perfectly reasonable grounds that "you’re bound to be accepted because you’re not likely to cost them any money, are you?"


Let’s put ex-PoW in the picture
A PASSING reference in this column to the trams which use to trundle up and down Ryde Pier has brought forth a request from an elderly gentleman in Lancashire.
Kenneth Smith, a former Japanese prisoner of war, wrote to say he collects postcards of tram-cars and would dearly love to have some images of the old Ryde rattlers. However, he realises they are valuable and would be more than happy to receive photocopies.
If you can drop them into the County Press office in Pyle Street, marked for my attention, I’ll make sure they are sent on to him at his care home in Bootle.
It would be nice to help an old hero pursue his hobby. Thank you.

 


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