Nine long months ago on a cold mid-January morning in 2015, a group of 6 pub quiz goers met up at their local pub "Barton's Mill" to drive to Southampton airport, board a plane to Glasgow and check into a hotel for one night's stay. In their luggage, each of them had 4 outfits packed.
4 outfits, for 1 night? No, these are not fashionistas who have massive shares in washing powder companies, they are future contensants of "Eggheads"!
In true "Eggheads" style: Let's meet them:
Ray - Landlord of the pub
Paul - from the quiz team "The Condiments"
Glenn - from the quiz team "Buttermoth"
Kelvin - from the quiz team which renames itself every week
Kate (that's me!) - from the quiz team "The Growlers"
Jim - barman extraordinaire, works in the pub with Ray.
At this point none of us had quizzed together but we had all volunteered (or been volunteered!) to be part of "The Barton Millers" - fab new Eggheads challenger quiz team from Basingstoke!
We also didn't know how much we were playing for until Jeremy Vine announced it on the show. It would be anything from £1,000 and up. £1,000 is added to each show where the money isn't won in the previous show. The highest amount ever won at that point of time was £75,000 so worth a try!
How Eggheads works:
5 contestants (Jim was our "spare" contestant) are pipped against 5 Eggheads. There are 8 Eggheads at the time of this post so can be a combination of any of them. All the Eggheads are quiz winners of the past, some on Mastermind, The Chase, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Quiz Champions of the UK, etc.
There are 5 rounds. For the first 4 rounds the contestants choose a player then also choose an Egghead to play against. The key is to try to choose the Egghead which will not win the round. Each round consists of 3 questions each with multiple choice of 3 answers. After the questions are asked, if there is no clear winner, then it goes to "Sudden Death" where questions are continally asked per player, no multiple choice answers are given, and the first to get one wrong loses the round.
The subjects can be any of the following:
Arts and Books
Food and Drink
Film and Television
The final round is "General Knowledge" where the remaining contestant and any of the other contestants who won their rounds goes head to head with the remaining Egghead and any of the other Eggheads who won their rounds. 3 questions each side and again it goes to "Sudden Death" with no multiple choice answers if there is no winner after 3 questions each.
After checking in at the hotel in Glasgow, we went to the pub next door for something to eat and drink, and go through our strategies ready for the show the following morning. Who has seen the show before and knows the format? (me only!) Who is best to pick for which subject? Which Egghead is worst for that same subject? We had a list written down by the end of the meal and hoped for the best that "History" and "Politics" didn't come up, as collectively we realised that they were our least favourite subjects (especially "Politics"!).
We got to the studio at about 7 o'clock in the morning and into the green room, where all the outfits we brought were looked at by the wardrobe assistant. Once they were chosen, they were whisked away by the wardrobe assistant to be ironed and we were whisked into Hair and Make-Up then got changed into our freshly ironed clothes.
As we waited outside the studio in a windowless but well lit corridor for the previous show to finish I can remember my hands going clammy and my throat completely dry. So nervous! The backstage team were really friendly and tried their hardest to set us at ease. Before we knew it, we were in the studio, being miked up and getting ready. The Eggheads came in and sat in their chairs ready and we did the "Hello, my name is xxx and my job is yyy" section of the show straight to camera. My lips were wobbling so much I really hoped it didn't show! After we did that, the Eggheads then introduced themselves to us.
Our Eggheads were:
Then Jeremy Vine walked in, said hello to us, a quick chat and we were off!
When he did his proper introductions to the show he confirmed we were playing for £10,000!
No pressure then.
Round 1 - Music
When the first subject was announced by Jeremy, everyone turned to me to choose the contestant. the list we came up with which I had memorised the night before had gone blank for a second but it did come back to me again quickly, thank goodness! I had to get into quiz mode! We chose Glenn to do the round, then CJ to be his opponent. (I knew that music is not one of CJ's strongest subjects, unless it's for Classical music)
While Glenn and CJ went to the question room and got ready, Jeremy had another chat with us and even did a selfie with us in the background and Glenn on the big screen behind us!
The power of TV means the show is edited quite a lot. We are told that we can take as long as we like to answer a question, and they are not kidding! CJ took at least 10 minutes to answer a single question, which turned out to be the wrong answer!
Glenn worked his magic with his immense music knowledge and he won his round after going to "Sudden Death". One Egghead down, 3 to go!
Round 2 - Sport
We knew instantly that Paul was the best person for the task, and we chose Lisa as his opponent.
One of the questions Paul had was about Bjorn Borg. After the question was asked and answered, Jeremy turned to the Eggheads and asked them what they knew about Bjorn Borg. They went through a few of his tennis wins, then mentioned that he now has his own line of men's underwear which is very popular. Jeremy then turned to Paul and said "Paul - are you wearing any?" The studio errupted with laughter, including Jeremy who couldn't believe he had just said that! (Unfortunately that part was cut from the broadcast show but it would have made a great blooper!)
Paul won his round with only 2 answers because Lisa got 2/3 answers incorrect. Two Eggheads down, 2 to go!
Round 3 - Science
Kelvin was our man for Science, and we chose Chris as his opponent as I knew that Pat and Barry were very clued up on that subject.
Chris (fortunately for us) got his last question wrong so Kelvin won his round with 3 correct answers to Chris' 2 correct answers.
"These challengers are playing like demons here!" exclaimed Jeremy after the round.
Three Eggheads down, 1 to go!
Round 4 - Politics
Yes, they chose bloody Politics. Of all the subjects, it was bloody Politics. We had agreed beforehand that if none of my subjects came up (Film and TV and Food and Drink) then I would stay for General Knowledge because that is my absolute strength. "The Growlers" win a lot of quizzes in the pub, mostly because of the weird and wonderful trivial knowledge I seem to attain! Unfortunately it was decided that I should be put forward. I knew our fortunes were possibly about to turn as it was our worst subject collectively and my worst subject personally - I have no interest in Politics (as a subject) but the show must go on, I may get some good questions after all and win my round.
The previous 3 players in our team had won their rounds so it was my turn to shine!
I couldn't think about who to choose as my opponent so the boys chose Pat for me. Here we go!
After the first question was asked, I said "Shall I get my coat now?" I didn't have a clue. Somehow I managed to guess the correct answer! This gave me some hope. Pat got his first question correct, so we were on to the second question. I had a feeling I knew the answer to it so went with my gut and low and behold, got it right again! Pat also got his second question right so we moved to my question three:
"Which American actor and director made headlines in 2012 when he conducted a imaginary debate with Barack Obama at the Rupublican National Convention?" Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood or Robert Redford were the choices.
I remember thinking - I know this! I saw this! I thought back to seeing a quick news snippet of Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair at a conference and everyone laughing. This has to be it! I went with it and - CORRECT!
I hoped and prayed that Pat got his third answer wrong. I didn't have a clue about the answer to his question myself but unfortunately (for me) he got it right. On to SUDDEN DEATH!!
The question I got was about the Limehouse Declaration in 1981 which formed the SDP - which major party did the 4 members come from?
There it was. My worst nightmare. I know that SDP stands for Social Democratic Party but other than that I haven't a clue. I was 6 years old in 1981. Why would I know the answer to that question? OK. Think! I knew it was a major party so I had a choice of 3: Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats. Hang on... Democrats! Perhaps that is why it's called SDP! I went with Liberal Democrats as my answer but alas. It was Labour.
I hoped and prayed for a second time that Pat would get his answer wrong so I would be able to have another question and stay in. The question he was asked I didn't have a clue and with no multiple choice answers to choose from, I was totally in the dark. Alas, he got it right and I lost my round. Boo.
Round 5 - General Knowledge
All the losing contestants went back to the question room for this final round which meant me from our team and CJ, Lisa and Chris from the Eggheads. Slightly embarrassing I was the only one from our team however it was my worst subject and I managed to get to sudden death so it wasn't all bad. I was also sitting with 3 of the top quizzers who also got their rounds wrong so the embarrassment faded a little.
So it was Ray, Glenn, Kelvin and Paul against Pat and Barry. 4 against 2 in our favour. It all rides on this final round!
Question 1 to our team was about the Kestrel, which is a bird of prey which lives all over the UK, including Hampshire and Basingstoke! We see them all the time so I was very happy when the boys got that one correct.
Question 2 was about Board Games. Any quiz question about Scrabble and Monopoly I usually get right when quizzing with the Growlers in the pub so I hoped the team would get it right without me. The question asked was: "Which board game was devised by Anthony E Pratt of Birmingham in the 1940's?" The answers available were CLUEDO, MONOPOLY, SCRABBLE. I know a lot about Monopoly and Scrabble (I love playing the games) but not so much about Cluedo, however, I know that Monopoly and Scrabble were both devized and launched in the 1930's so by default the answer should be "Cluedo". I sent as many vibes as I could down the camera to the boys and listened to what they were saying, powerless to help. Unfortunately the answer given was "Scrabble" so we got the answer wrong.
Although our team got the third question right, the Eggheads then went on to get all three of their questions right so we lost the game.
After the show had finished while we were still in the question room, CJ leant over the other Eggheads and shook my hand telling me that we had all rattled them, they were sure we would win! It was really nice to hear that. We didn't make fools of ourselves which was one of my aims. My other aim was not to fall off the stage platform while moving to and from the question room so both goals were acheived. Shame we didn't get the ultimate goal of winning.
We went back into the studio for photos and a quick chat before they reset for the next show, where £11,000 would be on offer.
I had arranged to give the 5 Eggheads and Jeremy a little gift - a duckling egg cosy each! They were really happy to receive them and I even got a couple of mentions on Twitter!
If you are ever thinking of going on a TV quiz show, I'd say definitely do it. You will have a lovely day with the team who make the show, see what happens behind the scenes and how the show is made, and you of course have the possible bonus of winning some cash. Yes we left empty-handed, but we went home with a lot of fun memories.
If you want to watch our quiz, it may still be available to watch if you Google it. Although we filmed it on 18th January 2015, it was first aired on BBC2 on 30th September 2015. Series 16, episode 69.