A very long, but highly entertaining day recording five episodes of Richard Osman’s House of Games (I can’t believe they actually record them all in one day and pretend otherwise - I would never do anything like that). Was I finally going to be able to break my TV quizzing curse and win something? Or would it just prove that all my claims of being unlucky on the show’s sort-of-sister programme “Pointless” were bogus? With so many shows and so many rounds it is impossible to hide on House of Games. I had to put up or shut up.
And it didn’t look like there was going to be an easy ride. I’d been up since 4.30am with my stupid son, who apparently doesn’t even want me to win a TV quiz show and had a mild whisky headache, but worse still I was playing some very strong and intelligent people: Rachel Riley from off of Countdown who can do any sum in her head, Katie Derham from off of the news and JB Gill from JLS, a very impressive and multi-talented businessman and obviously a bit of a superstar because of his work on CBeebies!
I am not allowed to talk about what happened, obviously, but the shows will be broadcast over Monday to Friday one week in June of July (I think), but the competition was fierce and pretty much every episode’s winner was decided by a single point.
Some people have said that I am competitive, but really this kind of stuff doesn’t matter to me at all - I can’t even remember if I won Celebrity Mastermind or not now - but this was a show where the taking part was genuinely a real pleasure. The questions aren’t stupidly easy, but they’re not “Only Connect” hard either. It requires a lot of thought and concentration, but there are some very enjoyably witty answers and everyone was very supportive (until the contest hotted up a bit at the end) and appreciative of others successes.
And the subjects and tasks are so varied that it’s impossible to excel at them all. Plus my brain was a bit clouded by tiredness and I made quite a few errors that came about from sudden memory loss or just being unable to articulate words correctly. My favourite bit was in show 5 where I played a tactical blinder by refusing to answer a question that I knew my team mate (in that round) wouldn’t be able to complete, knowing it might well bounce back to me if the other side failed too. It bounced back, but having been certain of the answer all along I changed my mind at the last second and got it wrong. Apart from getting the answer wrong I played it perfectly!
Always fun to hang out with the Osman and unlike on Pointless, we got to spend the whole day with him and have lunch together too. Rachel Riley told us that she’d done 2 or 3000 episodes of Countdown now and 100 episodes of 8 out of 10 Cats Do Countdown. “Imagine if you had a pound for every episode you’d done,” I said.
“Oooh yes,” she said, “I should really think about asking to be paid."
But whatever riches these people get they deserve it. Recording five shows in one day was exhausting for just one day. Imagine doing that every day for a couple of weeks and then heading off to another studio to do four or five shows of Pointless every day.
The work ethic of successful people is almost beyond belief. There’s talent and luck involved in every show business career, but the people who push themselves the hardest are the ones that generally do the best.
Richard has a real understanding and appreciation of entertainment television and is behind more huge successes than is frankly believable. And what was particularly noticeable and notable was that the team behind the show not only love and admire him, but have the same enthusiasm for the programme. Absolutely everyone was charming and friendly and professional, but also clearly keen to make the best possible television that they could. Even on the ninth day of a 10 day project. Plus there were some free Haribo so I was happy.
I was also incredibly impressed by the down-to-earth and head-screwed-on attitude of JB. An international popstar but smart enough to have invested his money and again super-professional. He's only 31, but knows exactly what he's doing. I am still floundering around and seeing where the tide dumps me at 50. I do work quite hard, but as most of it is on podcasts where I play myself at snooker, perhaps I need to work on my direction. And my charm. And my being young and sexy and brilliant at singing.
I had some quick beers after the recording before having to jump in my cab home. The taxi driver did a dense and smelly fart within the first five minutes of the journey. He opened his window to try and hide his crime, but it didn’t work. I opened mine to save me from this attack, which Boris Johnson is already claiming was definitely ordered by Putin.
We both knew what had happened and we both knew we knew, but we didn’t say anything. Of course not. The House of Games production is perfect in almost every regard, but they do insist on hiring flatulent taxi drivers. It's the one thing that lets them down.
It's lovely to be paid for playing all day long - imagine if I had a pound for every episode of House of Games I'd been on - and it doesn't quite feel like work after just one day of it. Not every TV show has a team that is as dedicated to the final product as this one, but that's why Osman's shows are so successful.