Lights! Camera! Action! My appearance on BBC1’s ‘Pointless’

Do you watch the quiz show, Pointless, weekdays on BBC 1 at 5.15 p.m? Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes, and how you get to appear on it?

I love this show, and I’ve always thought I’d like to take part. Not that I’m a perennial TV quiz addict, far from it, but there’s something about this one that really hooks me. Also, I think Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman are staggeringly brilliant and funny, and I really wanted to meet them!


So I downloaded the entry form, all 12 pages of it, and asked my oldest friend Christine if she would enter with me as a pair. Sent it off on a Tuesday, and got the call from Pointless two days later, asking us if we would go for an audition!

Off we went to our audition, along with 6 other pairs, to a conference room in a London hotel. There, we had to fill in another form and complete a general knowledge paper. Blimey, I thought, I’m not applying for the position of chairman of ICI, it’s just a TV quiz show. But apparently they are inundated with entries, and only take 1 in 30 of the pairs that apply. This was followed by a mini-game of Pointless with the production team, and then individual interviews on camera.

By the time we left, we were all fired up with enthusiasm and very keen to be chosen to be on the show. 2 weeks later we had the email – we’d been shortlisted! And a few weeks after that – yes, yes, the phone call, we’re going to be on the show, yippee!

And the rules and regulations! We had to take 5 different outfits so that Wardrobe could decide what looked best on screen, and were told to turn up with no make-up on at all, because that would be done by their make-up artists. Yikes! I said that Joan Collins does her own make-up, why couldn’t I, but apparently they won’t let you. Here are my before and after make-up shots.


We spent the first day hanging around in the green room, awaiting our turn, which depended on which pair got eliminated when. As it turned out, we wouldn’t be on until the next day, so we were packed off to spend the night at a nearby hotel. We were a strange mixture of excited, mentally exhausted, and scared stiff of making idiots of ourselves by freezing in front of the cameras the next day. Did we have an early night after a light dinner with no alcohol? Alas no, dear reader, we were drinking in the bar with a couple of other contestants (identical twins from Glasgow – well done for winning the jackpot, Brendan and Paddy!) but still managed to get ourselves to bed at a fairly sensible time.

The next day we were told we were on first, and then taken to have a look at the studio before the audience came in. Very exciting to stand on the podiums and see the score tower and the question board. They let us take a few photos, and here is the (regrettably blurry, but taken with a cheap camera phone in a hurry) one of me sitting at Richard’s desk!

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By this time we were just gagging to get on with it. Alexander and Richard came over and introduced themselves, and a more charming, well-mannered pair of blokes you could not wish to meet.

I must tell you, it’s all very well sitting on the sofa and shouting answers at the TV screen, but when you’re actually on the show, with the cameras, production crew and audience all around you, and knowing that this is going to be televised nationwide, it’s very hard not to get complete brain freeze! My mental processes went like this: ‘I can only think of one answer, at least I think it’s right, what will I do if someone says it before me, OMG, Alexander’s coming to me next, what if I say something stupid like Blackadder sticking a pencil up his nose and saying ‘Wibble’, I can’t remember anyone who ever starred in any film ever, what’s a film, what’s my name, I don’t like what I’m wearing, do I look like a rabbit caught in the headlights, I bet this make-up makes me look like a drag queen, whose stupid idea was this anyway?’

Christine and I were reasonably pleased with our performance, and we felt we acquitted ourselves well, as we got through to the head to head on our second show. Alas, no coveted Pointless trophy for us, we just missed out on the final! I’m so glad we did it, it was such fun.