Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Masterminding a coup...

I was on Mastermind the other day, which was quite good fun.  It was rather unsettling, too: watching yourself on TV is a strange experience that I’m not sure I’d recommend.  However, I would recommend actually being on the show, as it was a very enjoyable way to spend an evening and a day.  So I thought, this being a blog, that I could write a few thoughts about this in case anyone fancies giving the old black chair a crack.

A chair.
Getting onto the TV show is a long, though fairly straight-forward process.  The starting point is to fill out the online application form.  I did this for a chuckle, about a year ago, after playing around with the interactive Mastermind quiz game on the BBC website.  It was a shock to find it so rigorous; the form demands a great amount of detailed research into your four potential specialisms: book titles, authors, ISBNs, etc.  I nearly fell at this first fence; being a spur-of-the-moment activity meant that I was not primed to sit down and actually work for an hour, and I fancied a cup of tea and a lie down.  I persevered, though, and that was stage one complete.

I then forgot all about it, for about 4 months.  Then a phone call, with a man at the other end informing me I was through to the next round.  It took me a little while to figure out what was happening – I was just boarding a train – and before I knew it, a barrage of 20 General Knowledge questions exploded in my face.  I did my best, whilst struggling through the ever-spacious aisles of First Great Western, through a dodgy connection and low reception, until that was that.  Assuming that rolling a heavy suitcase over the toes of businessmen was not a great context for excelling at a quiz, I decided to pretend to not be excited by the prospect, even to myself.

On receiving the phone call about a month later, inviting me to a proper audition at BBC Bristol, I realised that I could now be excited, and decided to add a feeling of terrible fear to the mix, too.  I never knew how well I did at the train-based quiz, nor did I discover had badly the businessman’s toe was broken, but I knew I had made it through another barrier.  The auditions were during the Easter Holidays, which was good, so I had plenty of time to relax beforehand.  Impressed by the gleaming BBC, and its ranks of fresh faces, I entered my audition on a grey Thursday morning, and was greeted by another salvo of viciously barbed questions designed to make me cry.  I stumbled through this, proud that I remembered the word ‘Nimrod’, and left, after a brief chat about my specialisms and their availability.  Sitting with a boisterously strong coffee at Boston Tea Party, I contemplated waiting for yet another phone call.

To be continued…

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