Adam (strokeyadam) wrote,

Give it Some Telly (Part Two)

In my last blog post I talked about how I had been invited to film an episode of the gameshow “Common Denominator”.

Filming was on the 8th December at BBC Television Centre. I had to be there for 10:30am.  I was asked to take three or four outfits, all in bright colours, but with no logos and no stripey patterns.

A lady from the production company phoned me to say that they had booked train tickets for me to get there; I just had to pick them up from the station.

I picked the tickets up, got on a train from Northampton to Euston, made my down to Oxford Street amongst the early-morning Christmas shoppers and the got on the Underground (again, fortunately, no arm pits) and headed over to the big shopping centre at Westfield to use the toilet.

Then I headed over to the BBC. There was a crowd of people outside. As I hadn’t even been on TV yet I assumed that it wasn’t me that they were waiting to catch a glimpse of, but wondered if there was a discrete rear entrance, just in case. Having not found another entrance I decided to risk the main doorway. The crowd, who it turned out were waiting to see some people off Strictly Come Dancing, didn’t even notice me.

I waited in reception with the other contestants that were filming the show. I had met one of them at the audition. As it was a new show that none of us had seen before the production staff talked us through the format and what would happen during each round. We weren’t allowed to wander off to the toilet unsupervised in case we went looking for the people off Strictly Come Dancing.

A lady from wardrobe came round and looked at all of the outfits that I’d brought. She picked the two that she liked most and took them away to check that they didn’t clash with the set or with the clothes that the presenter (Phil Spencer off the house-buying programmes) was wearing.

Then I was asked to go off to make-up. I was led through some dark corridors into the backstage area of the set where I could see Phil Spencer off the house-buying programmes rehearsing some of his parts. The female contestant (who I’m not naming because I can’t remember how to spell her name) that was on the show spent a long time with the make artist having lots of things done to her face and hair. The make-up artist took one look at me and decided that it was only worth putting some powder on my face, some on my chin to cover a shaving rash and a load on my bald head to stop it shining.

All of this seemed to fly by, and the call to make our way to the set at 1:30pm came really quickly.

We were shown to our places on the set and told what would happen next: what Phil Spencer off the house buying programmes would say, what the cameras would do and when we had to speak. Then I had to look at the camera and do my introduction: “Hello, I’m Adam, I’m from Daventry and I’m a transport planner”.

Then there was a break and the make up lady put more powder on my head.

Then the first round began. The idea behind the programme is to find a (sometimes tenuous) link between two things that appear un-related. For example, the common denominator between “Paris” and “Hotel” would be “Hilton”. In the first round contestants play individually and have four questions, with the player with the fewest correct answers being eliminated at the end of the round.

The female contestant went first and got all four of her questions correct. I went second and got all of my answers correct. That meant that the other male contestant had to get all of his right to take it to tie break. His first question was to find the common denominator between “Fist” and “Maiden”. Quite understandably he thought “hand” straight away, but that wasn’t the answer the producers were looking for so he ran out of time going along that train of thought. That meant he was out after just one question. The answer was “Iron”.

Then there was a break and the make up lady put more powder on my head.

The format of the second round was slightly different: contestants are shown two pictures and have ten seconds to find the common denominator. If they don’t get it right it automatically passes to the other contestant. There are four questions in total, two for each contestant.

We had drawn straws and the female contestant was to go first. There was a picture of David Bowie and one of a cricketer. The female contestant couldn’t get it so it passed to me. I couldn’t get it. The answer was “Ashes”.

I got my question right and she got her next one right, meaning that the score was 1 each with one question to go. I was to go first and got the answer right, meaning that I was through to the final. 

Then there was a break and the make up lady put more powder on my head.

In the final round I had to find the common denominator between a picture and a phrase. Each question was worth more money (£100, £250, £500, £1,000, £2,500 and £10,000) but if I chose to go for the next question I had to sacrifice the money already won, so if I chose to play the £500 question, for example, and couldn’t get the answer I would leave with nothing. I had 45 seconds to win as much as money as I could. To make this slightly easier I was allowed to use one pass.

The first couple of questions were relatively easy, but then I was shown a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the word “Uncivilised”. I didn’t have a clue what the common denominator so shouted out some things I knew about Arnie, and some things that I didn’t know, such as ‘Robocop’, which he wasn’t in.

I used my pass. The answer was “Barbarian” which, apparently, is the name of a film that he’s in. If I’d spent all day guessing I don’t think I’d have got that.

I was then lucky enough to get a couple more questions on things that I knew something about, until I had £2,500 with about 15 seconds left.

I decided that it wasn’t worth risking that amount of money in case I got another question like the Arnie one.

Since the programme has been on people have asked me why I was happy to risk £1,000 with 17 seconds left, but not confident enough to go for £10,000 with 15 seconds left. I think that subconsciously I had decided that while £1,000 would be nice it wouldn’t be the end of the world to lose it, but £2,500 would be very nice and not worth risking if I had any doubts. The Barbarian question had given me enough doubt to know that I shouldn’t take that risk.

I don’t know how long things stay on 4OD for, but I believe the show is available to watch on this link:

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