Monday, February 28, 2011

Behind the scenes at the BBC

So yesterday was the recording of our appearance in Pointless.  It was great fun but exhausting!
Jill and I had to be at the studio at 9.15am..  I discovered that the first train out of Audley End is at 7.47 which left just about enough time.  Luckily I bought my ticket the day before because the ticket office was empty and the waiting room is locked.  Poor people who have to work on a Sunday.One advantage of starting so early was that I didn't have time to get nervous.  On the train I listened to movie review podcast I like which pretty much took my mind off things but I was thinking.  Hereafter with Matt Damon, I must remember that if Matt Damon comes up as a question.
I got to the BBC just about on time and we were all taken to the green room.  The BBC TV centre is huge.  Corridor after corridor and other than going to the loo I'm not sure I'd have been able to find my way back.   Once we got to the green room the nerves were beginning to kick in a little.  They started out reading and 10 page document explaining the rules and, harnessing the spirit of my 13 year old self, I managed not to listen to them.  When they had finished after half an hour I said to Jill.  They're pretty much the same aren't they?  Only to find they were a little different and she had to explain the changes to me.  Still she knew what she was getting when she chose me as a team mate.  I hate reading game rules  and usually get Trev or Kieran to explain them to me.  She just had to fulfill that role.
One rule I did listen to was that you must disclose if you knew another contestant.  Strangely enough I did. On the basis that I always seem to be bumping into people I know.  It turned out that the brother of one of Erin's school friends was a fellow contestant.  However we weren't to be on the same show and they considered it not too close a connection so no drastic actions was necessary. 
Rather excitingly one of the other contestants had been on Bullseye many moons ago.  It was a pretty naff quiz show that Trev and I were a bit obsessed with.  It would be two friends on it and they could win things like a motor boat, which you always thought - how are they going to split that?.  Anyway this bloke went on with his brother in law and they won a caravan.  At the time his brother in law was 18 with no car and the the contestant only had a Lada which was barely capable of getting itself up a hill let alone towing anything.  So apparently they sold it.
After the rule reading it was time for  hair and make up and I have to say this is one of the most exciting things of the day.  They had told us that they wouldn't make us up and I had put a little bit on.  However the make up girl that I had obviously decided that I was to be her blank canvas.  She worked on me for half an hour.  She put individual false eye lashes on with tweezers.  At the end I was totally evoking the spirit of Cleopatra.  Here is a picture of what I looked like when I got home.

Meanwhile my friends and family were gathering to support me.  They had put no limit on the amount of people I could invite so I invited pretty much everyone on my Xmas card list who was in the country.  Apparently nobody else had this idea and they were rather surprised by the large proportion of the audience made up of Carters/ Martins and Saffron Walden massive but actually please because it would have been rather empty without them.  Many thanks to them for coming.  Here are some of Trev's pictures of them at the BBC.  Apparently they had to do much ooing and clapping and laughting and were exhausted at the end of it.

Back in the green room lunch arrived, which was just sandwiches and by then I was really getting to nervous to  eat.  I ate about half my sandwich but made sure I had my banana so that I had some energy.
Then it was off to the studio for the floor manager to go through the ropes.  It was here that I was really getting nervous and there is something about me being nervous that I stop listening.  Luckily Jill isn't similarly affected so I could ask her about anything I had missed.
After that we went to get changed.  Wardrobe had decided which of our 5 outfits were most suitable and had ironed them to perfection.
Then is was SHOWTIME!
Fear was setting in now and thought I am going to giggle idiotically or start gabbling like a loon.  However, these people do know what they are doing.  They took us to a room adjacent to the studio (where they used to film Top of the Pops) where they would mike us up and touch up our make up.  It was now that the production team started to come and chat with us and it had the calming effect necessary.  When we went into the studio I was relieved to see that I could see the audience but because of the lights couldn't make eye contact so was less likely to giggle.
The production team stayed with us and kept us talking and I found that the nerves did calm down.  The two stars Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman both chatted with us.  Apparently Alexander's uncle lives in Saffron Walden and Richard Osman came from Billaricay originally.  (Honestly being from Essex is a bit like being from an ostracized group - all day we had people telling us that Essex was lovely really and they all knew people from Essex.)
Anyway the show went on and we didn't make idiots of ourselves.  I found that the nerves did stay under control and I did relax.  I do now have a lot of respect for people who do well in really hard quiz shows because it is hard not to blank on questions to which you should really know the answers.  I did make a few mistakes but nothing catastrophic.  It was very exciting when between rounds the make up people came and touch up our make up.  Like being a real star.  Just before the final I managed to spill water on my top so they had to lead me off and blow dry me.
It was all great fun and a real learning experience.  Totally exhausting.
We didn't win the jackpot but the boy I new in the green room won it in the show after ours.  So it goes to show Essex rules.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Plumbing the Library Knowledge... if you please!

Some of you know and some of you don't, that I jumped on the Librarian bandwaggon some 18 months ago and am intrepidly making my way in my second library role as Senior Learning Centre Assistant for Curriculum Liaison (I plan to try telling people my job title after a few drinks one day, just to see what happens!) at an FE college in Southampton. I am thrilled to have this job, as I can be creative and do all kinds of things that really excite me about library work. I am currently trying to arrange for a guest speaker to come visit the library. I have had many a conversation and email exchanges with charming authors of fine fiction, but sadly still no confirmation or success in booking someone. Target audience is Adult Learners who for various reasons are learning to read/write in English and the plan is that the visit will drum up enthusiasm for reading and literacy in general. Have any amongst you marvelous relatives-in-law had any success with organising this kind of thing? And can you give your Niece/Daughter/Cousin-Law some advice?

Monday, February 14, 2011

That's dinner sorted

On Saturday we popped into Cambridge after visiting the family in Newmarket.  Driving along the dual carriageway a very silly pheasant - and lets face it they are the silliest of all birds - decided to cross the road in front of us.   It did not live to tell the tale.
We thought no more about it and arrived in Cambridge, parked the car by a meter in the lovely collegy area called the backs and went off to do our shopping. It was only when we got back to the car an hour or so later that we realised that the dead pheasant had somehow remained attached to the front of the car and it was stuck in the front like a trophy! A little emabarrasing to say the least. Anyway, Trev, managed to kick the corpse off so infact some fox or cat will probably have a delicious dinner.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Well, as all of you know my friend Jill and I successfully auditioned for the show Pointless.  They are recording at the end of February and some of you will come and see it being recorded and if it's not too awful I may even let you know when it's on TV.
Here is it's wikipedia entry which explains it in detail.  Basically they ask general knowledge questions.  They have already surveyed 100 people and you win by choosing the least popular, or even better, the answer  not chosen by the survey  (the pointless answer in fact).  For example if they were to say landlocked countries in Europe Switzerland would be the most popular but the chances are few or hopefully nobody would have said Andorra.
I am a mine of useless information at the moment as I am trying to learn obscure American sports teams and the flags and capitals of little known countries.  My mind is full of menomics such as "Bleat me in St Louis" to remind me of the St Louis rams!  I must learn some facts about Canada.  Everybody always thinks I know about the land of my birth and it will be shameful if we fail because of my ignorance.
Jill and I have both received a large email with instruction mostly about what we can wear.  We have to think Smartie colours but not brown or red.  Not pastel colours, grey, black, white, busy patterns, polka dots, logos.  Nearly all Jill's clothes have got logos so I think she will be hitting the internet soon!  What's more we have to bring 5 outfits from this limited repetoire of colours!  I have just about managed it and am popping into Marks and Spencer this weekend to take care of the under clothes.  I feel I need to dye out the grey routes, bleach the moustache etc.  I don't think I put this much effort into Kieran and Alice's wedding (or even my own!).
The young researcher (and they are all young - the place is like Logan's Run) rang me yesterday to go through my biography.  I think I have got jobs with less information then they know about me.  She was trying to find out unusual information about me and I let slip that I find dressing up dogs  amusing.  That is certainly going to come back to haunt me.  Gromit will be in heaven laughing at me as he finally gets his revenge.  I also mentioned that I enjoyed playing Scrabble so she concluded that meant I was a good team player.  Clearly she has never entered the cutthroat world of the small plastic tiles.
Anyway, it should be fun.  As it's on during the day I'm hoping that the good and the great at work won't even be aware of my appearence.
Wish us luck and pray that we don't have a performance like this one!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Web site - well page really

I have started a web site to promote me.  The only reason to blog about it is to add a link which may then get picked up by google.  Anyone else who'd like to add a link to their sites/blogs/facebook please do.

Very boring to start with unless someone needs the exact skills described!