Friday, 13 February 2009

Decisions Decisions - How We Came To Have A Go

Decisions, decisions

I think that it was probably Ursula the Sea Witch in Disney's "The Little Mermaid" who said "Life's full of tough decisions, ain't it."

Regular readers may have read past entries where I have mentioned the quiz at the Pill Harriers Rugby Club in Newport on a Monday Evening. Those who haven't may prefer to skip this part and go straight to "We Came - We Had A Go - We Weren't Smart Enough" the next section of this entry.

Right, now that they've gone, lets get to the heart of the matter. I like League quizzing. There we are, its out in the open. Time was, a little over a decade ago I was competing in three leagues each week - Neath on Tuesday - Morriston Hospitals League on Wednesdays - South Wales Echo League on Sundays. Alas, all three of these are no more. The Swansea Independent League still exists, so I'm told, but my sources tell me that is in sad decline - apologies to all concerned if I'm wrong. The only healthy quiz league between Swansea and Cardiff now is the Bridgend Quiz League. Matches are played on a Monday night. Last Sunday my friend John told me that he'd been invited to play for a team in the League for a friend who was going on holiday. I told him I was jealous - I meant it too.

The upshot of this was that John rang me on Tuesday evening. He'd played in the league match the night before, and really enjoyed it, and the team had asked him if there was anyone he knew who could play on this coming Monday. Would I like to ? To use the vernacular, not 'alf !
However -
The thing is , due to adverse weather conditions I haven't made the journey to Newport for the Pill Harriers quiz for the last 2 weeks. Now that is not the end of the world. However the fact is that I've already told my friends Alan and Barry that, barring unforeseen circumstances I'll go with them on Monday. Now, yes, they could go on their own without me. But its not as simple as that. You can go there as a group of three, and even if nobody else joins up with you on the evening you can still be competitive. But go there as just two of you, and you risk a most frustrating and unfruitful evening. Its quite possible that if I don't go, neither will they. So can I bear having it on my conscience that I have cost the boys an evening's quizzing ? On the other hand, is it fair to lay upon myself the power of having the ultimate say in whether the boys go out to the quiz or not ? I feel a little like the Lord High Executioner here, and its not a pleasant feeling. Which friend should I let down ? Answers on a postcard to the usual address, please.

We Came - We Had A Go - We Weren't Smart Enough

Welcome back to all of you who have rejoined us at this point. If you read my entry earlier this week about the second series of "Battle of The Brains" you may have noticed that I mentioned in passing that I once appeared on "Come and Have A Go If You Think You're Smart Enough", Nicky Campbell's previous BBC quiz show.

This was my first ever appearence on television, and as such it has a special place in my heart. If you don't remember the show, it ran for two seasons, in 2004 and 2005, I think. My appearence was in the first series. Nicky Campbell either left, or was replaced, and the second series, called just "Come and Have A Go. . . " was fronted by Julian Clary. I have to admit that although Julian Clary is an alumnus of Goldsmiths College of the University of London, like myself, I didn't actually catch any of the second series.

The show had a unique ( or fairly unique ) selling point. As well as the four teams in the studio at the start of the show, teams across the length and breadth of the country could play along interactively at home, and by the magic of the interweb, their scores would be registered with the BBC. Teams answered multiple choice questions, and at the end of each round, one team was eliminated. When only one team was left in the studio, then there would be a break for the National Lottery, and after this the team in the studio would go head to head against the best team at home for a large cash prize. Usually the team at home would win, since there was no way of regulating the number of players in a home team.

A few things about the show stick out in my memory. Firstly , I remember thinking at the time that we were being well treated. Chauffeur driven limousines took us from Paddington to the very posh Kensington Hotel where we were staying. My subsequent experiences with the BBC would prove that this was very much out of the ordinary. As I hinted at in my previous entry, Nicky Campbell was extremely impressive in the way he remained calm and in control in the middle of it all. Don't ever think that Television presenters don't earn their money.

On a slightly less positive note, I was struck by the way that once you're on a show like that and you lose, then you are very much surplus to requirements. Both Come and Have A Go and Eggheads virtually gave us the bum's rush to get out of the studio as soon as the show was safely in the can. Actually with "Come and Have A Go" we were back in the hotel in time to watch the second half of the show !

Good old Mastermind,to be fair, does put on refreshments for contenders after the show. Mind you, that's a mixed blessing. For one thing they can shoot as many as four shows in a day, and if you're show isn't the last, then really and truly you are a little bit in the way when your show has finished. Its not just that though. When I lost on Mastermind I just wanted to get out and away from the studio, away from other people, and to start the long journey home. When I won on Mastermind - well, I just wanted to get out and away from the studio where I could enjoy my feelings of self satisfaction without coming across as a heartless git to the people who didn't win. Although the reception after the final was a different class, having said that. However, on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ? " in 2006 it took a day to make a whole show. So after filming finished, between 9:30 and 10pm, it was everyone into the bar, and who was both buying and serving the drinks - Chris Tarrant. Believe me, in and out of the studio that man is a class act.

Coming back to "Come and Have A Go", even though we were narrowly beaten my main feeling on the train journey home on the Sunday was that it had all been tremendous fun. Believe it or not, appearing in a quiz or game show really is a lot of fun, and actually winning it is not the be all and end all. I loved appearing on "Come and Have A Go". Losing my first round heat of "Mastermind" in 2006 was a blow, but it was only a matter of days before the disappointment was replaced by a feeling of - well, that was fun, and I definitely want to do it again. Even "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ? " Yes, I could have walked out of that studio at least £15,000 richer than I did, but it doesn't change the fact that up until my wrong answer I had just had one of the most amazing, fantastic days of my life. My "Eggheads" experience I don't look back on with quite such fond memories, but then that has nothing to do with what happened on the show, and everything to do with team politics in the bar of the hotel the evening before.

Its funny the way that I appeared on 7 TV shows in a space of just 3 years since, but in the 20 months since my last appearence, I haven't appeared on one. Partly that's due to the fact that I had given an undertaking not to appear in any other TV show until my final appearence on Mastermind was shown. However its been more than ten months since the final was broadcast.I fancied going on both "Only Connect" and "Battle of the Brains". Series 2 of "Only Connect" needs you to be able to commit to being available for filming three consecutive days, and I'm afraid that I just can't do that, since the three days in question do not coincide with my holidays at school. One of the pitfalls of our wonderful long teachers ' holidays is that you can't pick and choose when you take them. As for "Battle of the Brains", putting together a team of 7 people, many of whom will be working, for an audition is hard enough - but getting them to be able to commit to possibly being away for a couple of days or more until their involvement in the show is over is a nightmare. I've also applied for Terry Wogan's Perfect Recall, also a new Sky TV show that's in the pipeline, and I've asked if the Brain of Britain team will send me an application form when they start sending them out in the summer.


JC said...

2 points -

1.Very pedantic - 'fairly unique'? I thought something was or wasn't unique?

2. Imagine the other quiz teams when you stroll into a pub... "Who's that guy?" "Reigning Mastermind Champion" "I'm gonna call it a night"...

Londinius said...

Hi JC - thanks for taking time to leave a comment. Re : Fairly unique - yeah - fair point, not really sure why I put the 'fairly' there.

As regards other people's reactions to that, well the teams in the quizzes I play in regularly have been really good about it - after all, I had been playing in those quizzes for years, and for others ones I've gone to since, I haven't told them. In fact, after one quiz a couple of months ago, one of the members of another team suggested that I ought to try going on Mastermind !