Ever since the term yuppies (young upwardly mobile professionals) was coined back in the 1980s, similar labels have proliferated. Childless working couples proudly declared themselves dinkies (dual income/no kids), while I myself spent a few years as a siccie (single income/couple of cats). Now, though, I realise I’ve become a squishie – a serial quiz show contestant.
A sizeable proportion of the British population, it seems, love competitive general knowledge quizzes – whether participating in them for a bottle of wine at the local pub or watching them played out for what, these days, are increasingly high stakes on TV. In common with most people who have good general knowledge, I often find myself watching those TV quizzes and thinking I could do as well as or better than many of the contestants. What is somewhat more unusual is that I’ve put myself on the line by applying to appear on lots of those shows, and indeed have successfully made it into the studio on a number of occasions now.
Most people who’ve been on a couple of game shows begin to find the experience addictive – which is why, if you’re observant, you may well have noticed that the same faces tend to crop up again and again as contestants. It’s a memorable and exciting experience, often involving being treated like royalty for a day or two and, for the lucky few, the chance to win genuinely life-changing amounts of money.
Here are some of my experiences so far.
Three Little Words
As a callow 16-year-old, I appeared on this cheap and cheerful game show in March 1977.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
In the last decade, three shows (Millionaire,
Weakest Link and Deal or No Deal) have
transcended the concept of TV game shows and become cultural phenomena,
the subject of endless press column-inches and workplace gossip, their
brilliantly simple formats copied around the world. This leviathan
was the first. Against the odds, I made it onto the show in October
2002; the story of what happened starts here.
This daily daytime miscellany of word-based puzzles and general knowledge is unusual in that it’s transmitted live (from the tiny Endemol studios in Oxford when I appeared in April 2003, though I believe it’s since relocated to Bristol). I didn’t do too badly, winning my first round before being pipped at the post in the semi-final by Glaswegian Chris.
After Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, this one was the next major trendsetter in TV quizzes. I appeared on an edition of the show first transmitted in September 2003; my account of the experience (in exhaustive and truly unnecessary detail) starts here.
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