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When I saw SohoBlack's submission in this category (check it out it is very amusing), I knew I had to include my own little plug about my time in the spotlight.
1988 I was 13 years old and in the 2nd year of comprehensive school when a flyer was passed around asking if people wanted to apply for a new television show called 'Young Krypton'. I thought I would give it a go. I was pretty high in my year when we took any tests, and I swam, ran and played netball for the county so I knew I was pretty fit. I received the application form which I remember as being pretty standard, but one thing that sticks out in my mind is that I had to put down the names of three people who I admired and give my reasons why. I chose Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and my mum! A few weeks later, I was invited to the next stage of the process, which involved all of the successful North East applicants being brought together to take individual knowledge tests and take part in group exercises. I was so young that I cannot remember being nervous, as being from a real working class family, who had no car and no spare money, and even was looked down on by some of my classmates as my trainers were shops own makes and not well known popular brand names, I had no expectations of myself, and my parents never pressured me in any area other than my school work.
Three weeks later I was called out of class and told that my head of year wanted to see me as my mother had been on the telephone. I was panic stricken, not because I thought I was in trouble, but I thought there must be some bad news if my mum could not wait for me to get home. Who had died? Who was ill? My head of year, Mrs Jarvis was quite solemn, and I just knew she was going to break some terrible news to me. She explained that my mum had called because out of 25,000 applicants, I had made it to the final 36 contestants, and I was going to be taking part in 'Young Krypton'. All I can remember is being totally light headed, and feeling like I was going to faint. I was going to be on television, not some unknown channel, I was going to be on ITV at 4.30pm. How many people were going to see me????
The programmes were to be filmed in March - June, and the first one would air in August. The programmes were filmed in two halves. The first was the assualt course, which was filmed at The American Adventure Park in Ilkeston, which was pretty new at the time, and then a week later the studio portion was filmed at Granada studios in Manchester. I had to have a chaperone each time, so my mum came to Ilkeston and my dad came to Manchester. We were sent train tickets for each journey, and were told that a taxi would collect us and take us to our hotel on arrival.
I will never forget arriving at Nottingham train station, and having a uniformed chauffer collect my mum and I to take us to our hotel. As I have mentioned, we did not have a lot of money, and one of the memories that will stay with me is when we pulled up outside the hotel (which I cannot remember the name of), a bell boy opened the limo door and asked to take our bags. We had a case and 3 carrier bags! The shame on my mums face breaks my heart even today. I had no idea of ettiquette, but my mum must have been mortified, especially as a fellow contestant pulled up at the same time, complete with monogrammed luggage and silver spoon hanging from her month. I later found out that her name was Collette Brooking, and her father was Trevor. I could never be on the same scale, and I was really intimidated, which I need not have been as I later found out.
The hotel was very plush, and we had a day to relax and mingle with the other contestants, and the next day we would be going to the assault course to practise as the filming would take place on the third day. We were all taken away to be fitted for our made to measure tracksuits (honestly), and our famous Krypton factor trainers, which I was later gutted to see where available at many shoe shops in the high street, which took the shine off their uniqueness, but my tracksuit was lovely, bright citrus yellow (as that was my colour in the heats).
I enjoyed the time at the course, but had a mental block on the second obstacle which was the rope swing, and after having high hopes, I finished fourth and last in my heat. I was mortified, and so disappointed that I had to call my dad and dash his hopes. I felt like such a failure, and was dreading having to go to the studio the next week to finish off what had been such an anti climax, but when I got home all of my friends and family rallied round, and just told me to give it my all, and as long as I did my best then that was ok.
The next week, my dad and I headed to Manchester, and this time we looked the part, we had matching luggage, and we acted like we did this kind of thing every week. We arrived at Sacha's hotel in Manchester to enjoy two more days of luxury at the expense of the television company. We went to the studios, and whilst having lunch in the complimentary canteen, we were joined by Liz Dawn and Bill Tarmey (Jack and Vera Duckworth) who were filming in the studio next door and wanted to meet some of the contestants, but only my dad and I were there! They stayed for around 30 minutes, and were two of the nicest, kindest and inspirational people I have ever met. They even left a good luck card under the door of my dressing room later that afternoon which I thought was so thoughtful of them.
Speaking of the dressing room, yes, I had my own dressing room, and yes it had a huge mirror with lights all around it. We had to wear an outfit where the top was the colour we had been assigned. I wore a pale yellow t-shirt with a sailor on the front from C&A. I loved it! There were 3 heats filmed each day, and we were not allowed to see any of them, so I was left to either entertain myself or mingle with my fellow contestants, Hannah, Philip and Daniel, while we waited for our turn which seemed to take an eternity.
I will not bore you with the technical side of the programme, but there were 5 rounds which took 4 hours in total to film in front of a live studio audience which was really nerve wracking. I performed better than I ever expected, and after the final buzzer round, Hannah and I were tied on points, so we had to have a sudden death question. I heard the question which seemed to come out of host Ross King's month in slow motion, and with my heart beating out of my chest, I pressed the buzzer and answered. I was right...I had won...I was moving onto the group finals! Against all my own odds and expectations, I had done it. Walking out of the studio with my dad was a brilliant experience, and some of the children in the audience were pointing and saying "that is her, she's the winner". I felt like a star, it was an experience which will stay with me for the rest of my life, and something that I will always be proud of no matter how many of my family joke about this achievement, it was a major turning point in my life, and until I reached adulthood, and a whole new set of challenges, I always believed in myself 100%.
The group finals were a different affair. I was up against Christian, Sacha and Sarah. I performed much better on the assault course and finished second. I held my own until the final buzzer round when my nerves took over and I finished third. I was initially disappointed, but to get down to the final twelve contestants was no mean feat, and I had to admit that I was beaten by better contestants, and that I had given it my all, and come away from it having experienced something amazing, and made a lot of new friends, some of whom I am still in contact with 15 years later.
So sorry to any of you who have not had your 15 minutes. I had 40 minutes, so I think I stole yours!