Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Auditions, auditions

Stay with me with this one , we will get where we’re going by the end. My son Mike needed help shifting some stuff today, and being a decent sort of chap I drove up to Cardiff to help him out this morning. As we were driving along the M4 I told him about my idea for a new quiz game show. I’ve mentioned this one to you before. Basically it would involve trying to answer the question with as few words of the question actually being spoken as possible. Basically think of the old bid a note section of “Name That Tune”. It would work like this – the Question Master would say “The next category is Geography, and there are 14 words in the question. “ The two contestants would offer to answer it in fewer and fewer words. Sometimes they would gamble their way down to one word, and get lucky – eg. “Vientiane “ . Sometimes they would get unlucky and end up with “What “. No ? Well, please yourselves. Whatever the case, I was talking about this to Mike, and he said that it reminded him of Who Dares Wins to some extent. Which opened a little can of worms , since Mike once had an audition for Who Dares Wins a year or two ago, although he didn’t get on. I must say this surprised me at the time. He’s 24 now– a very desirable demographic – and a fun and outgoing personality . Perfect for the show I would have thought.

Auditions are funny things. I’ve had a number of them in my time, some face to face, and some over the telephone. In fact the only show I’ve been on which didn’t require me to take part in an audition was Mastermind Champion of Champions, for fairly obvious reasons. They have all been different – the two auditions I had for Eggheads, for example, were quite different. The first audition was for the very first season of the show, when none of us knew very much about it because it had never been on yet, and the next was some three years later. As a rough rule of thumb, if there was money to be won in the show, then it seemed like personality was far more important than prowess – judging by the amount of time they spent finding out about you rather than your quiz knowledge and ability.

If you have a certain amount of quiz ability you can find yourself having to decide whether you’re going to ‘soft pedal’ or not. By which I mean, are you going to try to outshine the other prospective contestants with your ability, or are you going to sit in the pack, and hope that your shining personality will see you through ? There is a school of thought which says that there’s a certain level of show where you are far more likely to put yourself out of the running by answering questions correctly than by answering wrongly. I honestly don’t know about this. I think it’s probably a little more complex than that. What you have to remember is that a production company making a quiz show is first and foremost making a piece of public entertainment, and they will have a very good idea of the profiles of contestants that they’re looking for. If you fit, then happy days. If you don’t, well, that’s just bad luck. Nobody has a God given right to appear on any particular show.

On a personal note, while I may have ( alright , I did ) soft pedaled and hid my light under a bushel in my very earliest auditions, I certainly don’t now. There’s not a lot of point. Every application form I’ve ever filled in has had a section asking if you’ve ever taken part in any shows before , and if you have, then how have you done. Yes, theoretically you could ‘forget’ about that show you won. Don’t even think about it, though. Omitting information like this is lying, and technically speaking it’s fraud. So if you’ve something like Mastermind on your resumé it’s pointless trying to pretend you’re a once a year pub quizzer, who’s only applying to see what it’s like appearing on the box. Mind you, I have personal evidence that production teams don’t always read this section of the application form as closely as they should. You maybe don’t remember 2009’s Britain’s Best Brain. It came and it went without making much of a splash, and I doubt that many mourned its passing. I applied for it and was surprised to get a phone audition. It was going swimmingly until the guy on the other end asked “Have you ever been on TV before ? “ Knowing that he already had the information on the application form I replied yes, and told him about Mastermind. Everything changed instantly. His tone of voice on the phone, the atmosphere between us, everything. He couldn’t get off the phone quickly enough.

Cards on the table, before Mastermind I was desperate to get onto shows, and desperate to do well, and as a result didn't enjoy the auditions that much - too nervous and keyed up. I knew that I wasn’t a bad quizzer at all, but if you just judged it from my first three TV appearances you’d never have guessed. After Mastermind, though, my attitude to auditions changed. Granted, I particularly wanted to get onto Brain of Britain and Only Connect, but even so I’d started to enjoy auditions in their own right. I suppose it’s all part of my inner show off- which to be honest manages to be outer much of the time too.


Unknown said...

Incidently, in case you hadn't heard, series 6 of 'Only Connect' starts on Bank Holiday Monday, 27 August.

Londinius said...

Hi Watergrass Jon

Yes thanks - I saw this yesterday on Danbiel's TQA blog. Looking forward to it immensely.

Dave Bill said...

I've had LOTS of auditions and didn't 'soft pedal' for any of them. The only one i didn't get on was 'Weakest Link' where I got 20/20 on the written test and was strongest link in both the mock games.

I think it is 'horses for courses' - for things like Only Connect, surely you can't be TOO clever. If you were applying for a lottery show, then yes - dumb it down to the max.

Londinius said...

I will admit that I soft pedalled for my second Eggheads audition. I was the only one of the team who had auditioned for it previously, and I did warn the boys to play down our quiz credentials. I told them to answer a straight question with the truth, but not volunteer any information they didn't have to. So what did our ( at the time ) star turn do ? He boasted about how he'd been runner up in Brain of Britain ( yes, another of us ) . I told him that our team would get on the show - and we did - but that 12 Yard would make him be the travelling reserve - and they did. We'd probabaly still have lost anyway, but it certainly didn't help. It meant that we ended up using one of our players who , in response to one of Dermot's questions, declared that he believed that Brian Boru was Swedish.

Nic said...

I had a similar experience, David. "Breakaway" rang me up a few weeks ago to ask a few questions. They then asked if I had been on any quiz shows on TV, to which I said yes I have been on Cleverdicks, but I put that on my application form. To this she said "oh...we don't have time to read through everyone's application form completely" and basically ended the phone call. Very annoying!

Londinius said...

Hi Nic

TBH one of the things that also provked thoughts which led to this post was a recent audition for Breakaway. Haven't heard yet if I'm on, but enjoyed the experience anyway, and am not holding my breath.

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