Showbiz is fame and glamour. That what I thought until I found myself auditioning for The Chase in the nondescript hotel function room of an even more nondescript hotel. The sort of hotel even cockroaches would think twice about staying in.
The audition involved a mock quiz and a short interview. I think the casting agents were looking for contestants who could explain their answers clearly. I assume this because I got all the answers wrong but I think I did a good job explaining my reasoning.
I was warned afterwards that I was not guaranteed a place on the show because they cast more people than they require but, if they did want to use me, they’d be in touch. It was the old showbiz phrase “don’t call us, we’ll call you!” After six months of not hearing from them, I was pleased and surprised when I received a call to appear on the show.
I was hoping they’d fly me down from Glasgow for the filming. Preferably a showbiz private jet. They offered me a return ticket on the train…2nd class only! Oh, the glamour of showbiz.
The Chase is filmed at Elstree Studios near London. Elstree is where the Star Wars films were made. I hoped I’d see Darth Vadar at the studio but unfortunately not. The Star Wars part of the studio has been knocked down and is now Tesco supermarket. They should call it C3P-TESCO.
The production crew put me up a hotel next to the studio. I thought I might spot some showbiz stars. Maybe Jennifer Aniston would be filming a new movie and need to stay close to set. If she was filming then she must have stipulated in her contract, “don’t put me up in that dump of a hotel next to the studio” – as I didn’t spot her at the breakfast bar ordering a full English.
After breakfast at my hotel I was chauffer driven to the studio. I was hoping for a stretch limo. I got a banged up old Ford Mondeo.
At the studio I was introduced to my fellow contestants. We did a warm up quiz to break the ice. Afterwards my impression was:
Magi – an unemployed middle aged woman. She was told by the producer that she shouldn’t say on the show she was unemployed. Supposedly TV viewers don’t like unemployed people winning money. She was told to say she was a volunteer. She was very slow at answering and seemed a bit mad. I thought she would be out in round 1.
Ellen – a mother of two. She seemed very pleasant. I suspected she also wouldn’t last long on the show as she had got a lot of answers wrong in the quiz.
Lewis – he was a big fan of the show. He knew a lot about Bradley Walsh and would say things like “Bradley will like it when I mention Watford FC as that’s his team too” I was worried he was a Bradley Walsh stalker and that he might have a big Bradley tattoo on his chest with “I love you Bradster” written underneath it. He was amazing at the quiz and I thought he was a definite to get through to the final chase.
Before the show recording started we were lead to or own personal changing rooms. I’ve seen cleaner’s cupboards that are more glamorous.
The producer told us we wouldn’t meet either the Chaser or Bradley Wash before filming began. So that a) we would act naturally surprised when the chaser appeared and b) Bradley preferred to do the show “cold” so that his reactions would be natural too.
As we queued outside the door to the studio there was another queue across from us waiting to get in a different door. I asked them what they were queuing for – “Pointless,” said one. Yes most queuing is pointless!
It turned out that the two biggest quiz shows on daytime TV are filmed next door to each other. Oh, the glamour!
[To be continued]