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What it's like to take on the mighty Eggheads

At least I now know what a kodkod is. And so ends my Eggheads experience.

Jeremy Vine and the Eggheads
Jeremy Vine and the Eggheads

I have the consolation too by the knowledge that my team-mates wouldn’t have guessed the correct answer either. Of course, I blame my mate Andy for suggesting we try out for the show – and he didn’t even get on the team!

As regular quiz-goers, we were forced into playing online during the pandemic, and still do so to this day. Our regular event, the monthly curry and quiz night at the Dilshad in Cannock has now resumed, however, and we have maintained our Arsene Wenger-esquerecord of always finishing in the top three in the five years it has been running.

But beating the quiz Goliaths was another matter. Fortunately, we were ‘only’ playing for £2,000. Just three shows earlier we had seen a team take home £28,000 after defeating the Smart Alec quiz team. So imagine how much could have been riding on a wild cat from Chile.

But it was a great experience and has whetted the appetite to try out as a team on other shows, this time with Andy involved. To me, we’re all winners for managing to get on and take on the giants.

We set the ball rolling when I spotted an ad for the show returning, to Channel 5 from the BBC, and contestants were needed. Individual phone calls followed, with a series of general knowledge questions to test us. A three-minute video to the producers followed and forms were filled in describing our likes and loves and funny moments.

Then the moment came. A train trip to London in May for filming at the studios in Hammersmith. Just four players were needed, instead of five previously, and, due to the producers’ insistence that more females were needed, the unfortunate Andy was the one to miss out, though we did have to agree to give him a share of any spoils.

We swotted up on old shows in the run-up to recording, plotting our strategy. But when it came to the crunch we just fell short.

The green room at the studio highlighted the Eggheads’ credentials. Judith Keppel, first jackpot winner of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Pat Gibson won the same prize and is a multiple world champion and the world’s number one. New Egghead Olav Bjortomt is a four-time world champion and has won three European titles.

Mark. left, as part of the Eggheads team

We were spared having to take these on, but still had to face up to Kevin Ashman, Barry ‘the Brain’ Simmons and Lisa Thiel, as well as Steve Cooke. His claim to fame? The Brain of Derbyshire.

Our tactics, as we strived to put Cannock Chase on the map, were to have at least two players at the end. However, none of the female players, my other half Sharon and our friend Kate, fancied being alone for the final round. So after our Steve had missed out on the tie-break to Barry on arts and books – one of the Egghead’s favourite topics as it turned out – I sacrificed Sharon for the politics round. After mistakingly plumping for the wrong answer to the first question, she had to take her seat at the back after defeat to Lisa. This left Kate with music, and after a loss to Kevin – no disgrace there – I was left to face the might of all four Eggheads at the end.

Even now I still replay the tactics in my head. What if I’d taken arts and books, then Steve on politics and Sharon for the music round. . ?

However, this is all hindsight. Contestants don’t know what category will be next and there was still no guarantee any of us would have gone through.

Poor Kate could have been left all alone. And we were all at a loss on what a kodkod was anyway.

But it was all good fun, the Eggheads were personable and Jeremy Vine was a delight, taking time out for little conservations and even showing off his penny farthing he rode to the studio to our Kate.

So, while we didn’t win, we did learn that if you want to try your hand at a television quiz show, just give it a go.

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