How we got on Pointless - and the teamwork that brought us the big prize!
PUBLISHED: 08:37 15 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:37 15 September 2017
It's the most popular quiz show in the country, screening five times a week throughout most of the year - taking a break only for the Wimbledon fortnight and Christmas. But what's it like taking part? Last night millions watched PAUL GEATER and his daughter CHARLOTTE walk off with the jackpot. This is how it all happened.
It all started with a family conversation at a café on the South Bank in London back in 2013. Charlotte lived in London at the time and the conversation got around to an episode of Pointless we had recently seen.
It was all Charlotte’s idea: “Why don’t we go on the show, Dad?” She asked.
I couldn’t refuse and the next thing she’d written off and got application forms for the show.
The forms were formidable, but I filled them in, sent them back to her and she sent them off to the production company.
It must have been 18 months later that I got a call out of the blue – it was early 2015 and I was asked if we’d be available for an audition. If successful we would be filmed in April or May.
I had to turn them down because I knew April and May would be the general election campaign – and I could not commit myself to being away from the office for two days for the filming.
I feared that was that, but eventually got another call a year later – and this set in train the series of events that led us to Elstree Studios.
The audition in a London Hotel was great fun. We were there with a number of other pairs – friends, relatives, couples, a real mixture.
Charlotte made friends with another contestant who eventually appeared on the show a few weeks before us.
We passed the audition and were put on alert to be filmed later in the year. Again there was a long wait before we were invited to come down on two dates.
Because most pairs appear on two shows, these can be filmed on different days – and sometimes you can be waiting around all day to be filmed and not actually get to take part. You then have to return on the second day.
On the day we were filmed we were waiting all day in the “Green Room”, actually a tent in a courtyard with coffee, television screens (showing BBC News Channel, they didn’t want us to know what was going on in the studio), and production staff who did a very good job at jollying us along.
Looking back this was fun – although at the time it seemed like an awful lot of sitting around, a bit like Waiting for Godot.
In the end we were on the last recording of the day – and the rest is history! As it happens we did not have to return for the second day of filming which is just as well because I would have had to send someone else to the council meeting I was due to cover!
The show on screen last 45 minutes. A question I’ve been asked several times since filming is: “How long did it take to film an episode?” It’s only about an hour. The scene shifters are very efficient at pulling away podiums and carrying on.
The other point is you don’t actually see Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman except on set – they don’t join you for a quick chat to put you at your ease before the show. The only time we talked personally to them was when they came over to congratulate us on winning the jackpot.
The rounds were a bit of a blur. The first round we did okay, but were unexceptional. The second round was where I came into my own. I’m a bit of a transport geek and I knew there was a large car industry in Brazil so when we were asked about the Top Twenty car makers I was pretty sure that would be a low score.
The head to head I was very pleased with. I’ve cooked enough Christmas lunches to know what goes in bread sauce and I’ve seen wildlife programmes so I know what a Musk Ox looks like!
So suddenly we were playing for £5,000. Not a life-changing sum but a very nice amount that can allow you a real treat (even when divided by two).
When the subject of “London railway stations” came up, I fancied it as a bit of a transport geek. Charlotte actually preferred the idea of the tennis question and I would have been happy with that – I know Grand Slam winners from the 70s and 80s, she knows the modern players.
But I won the battle between us . . . and then froze when I heard the question!
Charlotte’s two years of living in London, though saved us in the end. When asked to name stations with the word Town, Road or Street in them I could only think of the fairly tame Holloway Road and Caledonian Road. Good, but never likely to be pointless.
Charlotte said quite calmly: “I went through Stratford High Street on the DLR every day . . . I think.”
So we agreed that would be one of our questions. We put it first because once she’d said it, she started to have doubts.
However they became gloriously unfounded. The slot slipped to the Pointless marker and we ended up with £2,500 each.
I say I did the heavy lifting to get us the final. Charlotte got us over the line!
When Alexander asked what we would do with the money, I said I fancied a trip with my wife to Berlin. We’re heading there this autumn.
And I also managed to get the garden sorted out with a new patio which I really enjoy.
Charlotte’s money has enabled her to go on a few nice holidays.
It was a great experience, and a little bit of me is tempted to apply for another show one day!