As a child, I was a bit of an exhibitionist. I loved dance and drama and was regularly up on stage (Southport Floral Hall none the less!) strutting my stuff or eloquently sprouting verse. I proudly managed to get on TV a few times, even if my appearance was rather fleeting.I walked up the stairs in a school on Brookside, and had the good fortune to meet the infamous Jimmy and Ron Dicko! That was thanks to my mum’s cousin who was a lighting technician on the show, and who sadly died a few years afterwards. I also danced in a tutu being Keith Chegwin (chain smoker extraordinaire) on the Big Breakfast as he ran around people’s homes in the early hours of the morning. It was January and my feet were like blocks of ice by the time I got to take off my ballet shoes. And they say the work of a TV star is easy!
Thankfully the video recordings have now all been taped over (or maybe my mum’s got secret copies that she’ll get out years down the line at an opportune moment to embarrass me!).When I started college, I put most of that all behind me. I had no time for my dance school as I’d discovered clubs, bars, pubs and drinking! I made it all the way through uni too without ever coming in front of a TV camera. Almost.
I was studying for my finals and finding plenty of things to distract me, including reading through the regular stash of magazines in the flat. I opened up the centre pages to a Smirnoff advert exclaiming “£40,000 could be yours”. Ooooooh, I thought and read the detail. You had to simply call up and answer a question to win your place on this one-off game show. Well, I knew the answer so had nothing to lose and I dialled the number. Turns out I had to also answer a tiebreak question. I honestly can’t remember what it was or what my response had been, but I do remember putting the phone down feeling really embarrassed. I probably said something seedy and rude, but looking back that must have been exactly what they wanted!About 3 weeks later I had a phone call from the TV company asking me to send a photo to them. It took me a while to realise what they were on about as I’d put that phone call behind me and forgotten all about it. Anyway, I sent off my photo and they called back and said they’d like me to be on “Bullionaire”. Aaaaarrrggghhhh!
On the day of filming, I headed down to “Sound” club on Leicester Square (where they film the Pepsi Chart Show). They explained the format of the show to me and the other contestants and we ran through the basics. There would be 5 rounds at the end of which one person would go away with a gold bullion valued at £40,000. Kerchinggg!The first round was pole dancing. Oh no, how embarrassing! What would my mum think? Oh well, it’d be an experience! We spent half an hour with professional pole dancers learning some easy moves (none of the turning yourself upside down with legs akimbo malarkey!), and then were ushered off backstage whilst the audience was invited in.
We all chatted backstage about what we’d do if we won the money and had a bit of a giggle to alleviate butterflies. There was a really great atmosphere. Then the music started and we were escorted back to the ‘studio’. We went through the intro part of the stage, passing around the gold bullion (oh yes, I’ve held £40,000 worth of gold in my hands – and its really heavy) and saying a bit about who we were. Then it was to the poles. The music came on and off I went, “Shakin’ that ass”!I’m proud to say I made it through that 1st round, and the next too, but fell flat on my face at the 3rd round. We had to identify which person, from a pair, was a professional in their field. The female vicar fooled me although I did spot the real millionaire! So I headed backstage and watched a very happy winner pick up her gold. Gggrrrrrrrrr.
So I didn’t win. They did supply us with as much Smirnoff Ice as we could drink, although to be honest I’m not a fan of the stuff so I only had a couple before switching back to my usual tipple (and paying for it!).I did however get lots of messages from old friends that I hadn’t been in touch with for some time. It turns out the late spot on Channel 5 does have an audience … especially when it gets the spot after Cheggers' Naked Jungle! That bloody Keith Chegwin again !
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