Regular readers will be aware Getintothis’ Peter Guy knows nothing about music, well here’s confirmation.
I’ve often wondered what motivates people to go on television gameshows.
To meet relatively famous bods like Ann Robinson or Noel Edmunds? For a wee slice of egotistical exposure while showing off to the nation? Perhaps, more obviously, in the hope of bagging a generous prize-fund. Or maybe just to win a speed boat.
All of which is somewhat understandable and only adds to my retrospective confusion as to why I ended up volunteering to appear on a prime-time quiz show with the barely famous, little hope of emerging with any semblance of respectability and next to no chance of winning even a tenner. The speedboat, meanwhile, was a complete nonstarter.
Nope, the televisual treat I inexplicably took part in doesn’t even reward you with a consolation cuddly toy.
What a dope.
The quiz show in question is BBC2 teatime teaser, Eggheads. And for those unfamiliar it’s a knockout game where a team of five challengers go up against five quizzing geniuses – the Eggheads – in the spectacularly foolish hope of scooping a rollover pot of cash.
Given the fact that unofficial chief Egg, Kevin Ashman, has a roll of honour reading eight times winner of British Quiz Championship, five time winner of European Quizzing Championships, four time winner of World Quizzing Championships, 1989 winner of Fifteen to One, 1999 winner of Fifteen to One: Champion of Champions, 1995 Mastermind, 1996 Brain of Britain, 1999 Brain of Britain: Brain of Brains, 1999 Brain of Britain: Top Brain, and Mind Sports Olympiad it was a fair shout that our team of Liverpool Daily Post & Echo journos had about as much chance of winning as Animal Collective did at the Brits.
But just to make doubly sure, myself and Hacked Off (I should point out I had no say in the naming) team-mate Marc decided to stay up in our Glasgow hotel til 4am and get royally ratarsed in the bar.
What a pair of dopes. This of course, wasn’t part of the plan.
Especially, given we had to be at the Beeb’s studio at 9.15am.
Planning prior to our train trip to Glasgow involved office gatherings round television sets and watching the show to gauge our strengths (and obvious weaknesses), team-mate Snowy devised a series of taxing Q&As for our journey while skipper Alistair drew up a list of complex strategies of who should take on which Egghead depending on which of the nine possible categories (Politics, Arts & Books, Food & Drink, History, Geography, Science, Music, Film & Television, Sport) were selected.
This last course of action involved so many ifs, buts and maybes, you’d have been quicker devising a formula to work out which balls would be drawn in the National Lottery.
Matters were further complicated by the fact we didn’t know which five of the seven Eggheads would be picked to face us on the day of reckoning.
Having emerged bleary-eyed from our alcohol-fuelled bender at 8.55am, trudged along the mud-soaked banks of the Clyde and turned up in the glass atrium of BBC Scotland resembling a Glastonbury Festival casualty minus the novelty flag, it turned out we were to face an Eggheads team without two of their original players – the aforementioned Kevin Ashman and the programme’s pantomime villain CJ de Mooi.
The loss of Ashman was, on the surface, a good thing until we realised he’d be replaced by Irishman Pat Gibson – largely considered the new, improved Kevin Mk II. Gibson’s essentially the T-1000, to Ashman’s Terminator. He’s less a fountain of knowledge more a Niagra waterfall of wisdom wrapped in the body of a less slappable James Corden.
CJ’s absence was, however, a blow on two levels. One, he’s a fantastic character; the former model changed his name to de Mooi as its literal meaning in Dutch is ‘handsome man’ and with his creosoted perma-tan, ludicrous floral attire and a camped-up-to-the-nines pomposity which makes Bruno Tonioli look like He-Man he makes for hilarious viewing, not least because everyone wants to beat him. Both mentally and physically.
Which brings us on to the other blow – he is regularly beaten as he’s clearly the weakest Egghead.
Ten bottles of water, five cups of coffee, a croissant and a glass of coke later, I join my team in make-up. The poor girl not only has to turn my zombie-complexion into something vaguely close to living but repeatedly ask me to hold my head up as I fight back the want to dribble.
Egghead and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire winner Judith Keppel is perched in the adjacent chair having her rollers taken out and I’m staggered to discover that she’s sporting a pair of uber-cool red glitter Converse which we’re later told are her lucky trainers. Showbiz secrets surely don’t come much bigger.
Meanwhile Marc’s refusing to have his stubble shaved, Alistair’s having his own egghead removed of sheen and Nick’s coasting along like he’s done this a thousand times before – which is all rather perplexing, as firstly he doesn’t wear make up and secondly he’s usually as tranquil as a Liam and Noel backstage party.
Moments later and the ever-smiley BBC researchers Nick and Laura tell us it’s ‘time’…
Feeling like Keith Moon is drumming inside my head and the inside of my mouth has begun to sprout moss, I follow the team down winding corridors, several flights of stairs, passed The Weakest Link‘s studio and onto the Eggheads set.
Immediately blinded by the quite ridiculous lighting I turn to my right only to have my retinas blown to buggery by Snowy’s luminous yellow Primark t-shirt but before I’ve time to gather any composure the Eggheads appear shortly followed by host Jeremy Vine.
Vine sports the kind of expertly-tailored suit your’e used to seeing the Match of the Day pundits wear while loveable Super Gran Daphne Fowler rifles through her make-up bag as Barry Simmons fixes a manic grin last seen on American Psycho.
Chris Hughes, meanwhile, is every inch the retired former Saturday Afternoon Wrestling chump that would regularly take a beating from Kendo Nagasaki. He looks intense. In fact they all do and previous warnings over how seriously the Eggheads take the competition is there for all to see.
This isn’t just a quiz show, this is intellectual warfare and we’re about to be obliterated.
Vine, on the otherhand, is the Clint Eastwood of gameshow hosting – effortless, oozing charisma and trading banter with us all from the off.
Unfortunately, there’s little time for chat and soon the title sequence is up and we’re officially on and fate cruelly delivers an early punch to my chops as ‘music’ is the first category on offer and I suddenly find myself walking with production crew members into the ‘Question Room’ with none other than the Pat ‘T-1000’ Gibson. Fantastic.
Frazzled and sweating alcohol, Jeremy proceeds to unintentionally exacerbate matters by asking me what music I like. I rue not wearing a Carles Genre shirt (right) before blurting out ‘Prince… and krautrock.‘
Looking like I’ve just injected some untimely racism, Vine straight-bats me with a quick ‘What’s that?‘
Leaving me to bumble some incoherent response about beats, Neu! and progressive rock. Now I feel like a new character on Peep Show, with my own voice narrating the words, ‘Great start, Peter – the nation now thinks you’re a twat.‘
Sensing watchdog inquiries and viewers reaching for the remote, Vine’s straight into the questions and I’m quoted the lyrics to Lonnie Donegan‘s My Old Man’s A Dustman and asked where the binman in the song lives.
Unfortunately this isn’t …Millionaire and I’m not allowed to phone Donegan specialist and former colleague Dave Charters so I catch my breath.
Feeling like I’m underwater and having taken an eternity to get my head round the situation I manage to correctly answer ‘council flat,’ before the T-1000 has seconds later pinged his correct answer across and once again I’m back in the firing line.
‘Which country performer won the 2004 series of American Idol?,‘ asks Jezza. Taylor Swift instantly pops into my head and I ready a vaguely amusing anecdote before the possible answers pop up onto a monitor.
To my dismay Taylor isn’t even an option, instead Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks and Carrie Underwood flash up on the monitor.
Stumped and having only heard of the first two I find myself offering Ms Sparks before Vine hits me with the correct answer – Carrie Underwood. Before I’ve time to register my disappointment the T-1000, sitting but a few feet away has once again delivered the goods leaving me with a final question to stay in the game.
Once again, Jezza’s words tumble through the claggy studio air, ‘Guitarist Carlos Santana was born in which country – Spain, Mexico or Argentina?‘
Now, despite the fact I own his eponymous debut, Abraxas, Caravanserai and that he looks like a Tijuana mariachi replica of the 1986 World Cup mascot minus the sombrero, the word ‘Mexico’ escapes me as I convince my addled mind he must be South American and was therefore born in Argentina.
Vine hestitates before uttering the word, ‘Incorrect.’
Gameover Guy, you whopper.
As we exit the room, the T-1000 turns to me and says: ‘Do you like Rammstein?‘
‘Erm, yeah…,’ I reply feeling annihilated as my inner voice screams: ‘You’ve only heard one track by them you liar! Call yourself a muso, you’re not, you’re a charlatan. Getintothat!‘
Hacked Off (front row), The Eggheads (back row) & Jeremy Vine (back, far left).
Santana: Soul Sacrifice (Woodstock 1969)
*ps: If you want to know how Hacked Off got on, check back here in the coming months and I’ll tip you off when it’s screened.