in General March 6, 2017
The Long Road to EggheadsIn the Autumn of 2015 the choir’s redoubtable secretary Willie Wallace casually announced that he had received an enquiry from the TV production company 12yard as to whether the choir would like to have a team compete in the popular BBC2 quiz show Eggheads. As a keen viewer of the show I thought it a great idea if I could get enough guys as daft as me to form the necessary team of 5 plus a (travelling, i.e. must be there on the day) reserve. And, Yes, my bluff was called. No strong-arm tactics were employed. Derek Mackay, Alex Findlay, Al Grant, David Walker and Peter Lawrence were all willing volunteers and the process began.
The audition process involved form filling (very nearly our complete memoirs; well not quite), an audition video (thank you Tom Adams) and a 10 question quiz by a 12yard researcher over the phone. Then, of course, it’s then they tell you that the schedule for that series is full but would we be a stand-by team. “OK” says I and hears nothing more. Next I hear in May that dates are available in July 2016. “No can do” says we. Two of us are marshals at The Open at Royal Troon and not even the prospect of television stardom can interfere with that!
‘That’s probably the end of that’ we are beginning to think but as autumn creeps up so does 12yard. Would we be available for the next series? Well, why not? The preliminaries are all done. Well not quite. We have to complete new applications, do another telephone quiz, but fortunately not another video. The only snag was that David, our accompanist, was no longer a free and easy student but a teacher subject once more to school discipline and not able to slip off to TV studios at short notice. For some strange reason the supply of volunteers from the choir dried up but Jack in the first tenors came up with the idea that I contact his friend Douglas who “had form”, as they say, having been a finalist in BBC Scotland’s Superscot” quiz show some years ago. Fortunately he did indeed come to the rescue and jumped through the hoops the same as the rest of us, Tom “Cecil B deMille” Adams again doing a great job with the video bit.
We then endured the suspense of waiting for our date with the cameras and then, when we could almost bear the suspense no longer, the call came. November 17th 2016 at 4.30pm was to be our date with destiny! Oh, and there was just a little more paperwork. Yes, contracts, disclaimers, you name it! Still, we had come so far so that would be a small price.
The does and don’ts were several pages too, but the important thing was to bring four shirts (un-ironed) for the wardrobe ladies to choose from. In the “green room” we were told the team we would face but not how much money was at stake. Some light refreshments (non-alcoholic) and 2 visits to make-up and it was into the studio at about 6pm. As the floor manager explained everything, it seemed about six times, the Eggheads wandered in. Out of the nine now in the squad we faced Lisa Thiel, Barry Simmons, Chris Hughes, Dave Rainford and Beth Webster. All were extremely pleasant and, considering we were the fifth team of the day, remarkably personable and enthusiastic to get on with it. Last to arrive was Jeremy Vine who, perhaps understandably, was a little less relaxed and conversational. Where the Eggheads teams are drawn from their “squad”, meaning they will get breaks through the day, Jeremy has to front all the shows.
Before Jeremy appears we get to do the bit where we introduce ourselves and fortunately we are told that they do about 3 takes in case we’re worried about “screwing up” and looking like proper wallies. Ad nauseam we are also, practically since arriving in the green room and right till the last moment encouraged to look and sound enthusiastic when Jeremy asks if we want to play. Watching the programme I think we got that bit right!
Attention to detail is amazing. The camera can be about to roll and the floor manager’s call goes up. “Fiona, (the wardrobe lady), Reg’s shirt!” I looked down at it. It seemed fine to me but over Fiona comes and moves the sleeve about a little. It looked just the same to me but apparently it made all the difference to your enjoyment of the show! This happened for various members of the team throughout recording. That’s how it takes over 2 hours to record the scintillating 30 minute quiz show you have either watched, are about to watch, or (perhaps most likely) couldn’t give two hoots about. How it all looks so seamless is amazing!
There were moments along the way when we asked ourselves “Why are we doing this?” and what with the paperwork “Is it worth all this?” but at the end of it all, although we came away without the £9,000, every one of us, including our ever encouraging reserve Peter, thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Seeing the resulting footage I am proud of my team and the enjoyment, I think, showed through. And, after all, as the man said, “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”
Watch the Team in Action!/>