I have made a few guest appearances on documentaries about quiz/game shows probably because there just aren’t that number of women who are successful at these sort of contests. I always put it down to the fact that women nowadays not only have husbands and children to look after, but usually have a full time job to boot and therefore just don’t have the leisure time needed to sit and read and absorb the kind of facts you need to recall if you are going to be a winner on a quiz show. I really only came into my own when I took early retirement from my job as a NatWest secretary and for the first time in my life, had all this wonderful spare time in which to indulge my passion for reading.
As a woman contestant, I have been asked to take part in several programmes which involved being interviewed about why I was particularly successful. One of the most entertaining was a Clive James programme all about game shows and television quizzes and I was asked to appear as “the contestant” with clips being shown from several of the quizzes I had appeared on.
As I mentioned earlier, I never had a copy of my very first appearance on television in “Winner Takes All” in 1979 as we didn’t have a video recorder at the time but Matchmaker Productions later sent me a copy as a souvenir, which was very much appreciated.
I met several well-known quiz hosts on the show including Bob Holness, Nicholas Parsons (again!) and memorably the lovely Richard Whiteley who wanted to know why I hadn’t applied to be a contestant on Countdown since I seemed to have been on most other shows. My husband then scotched any hope that I might have had of being on the programme when he whispered in Richard’s ear – “She can’t do the conundrums, poor dear!” One of my ambitions however, is to be asked on Countdown's Dictionary Corner.
I absolutely love words and their meanings and if I ever did “Desert Island Discs”, I would ask for the Oxford English Dictionary as my luxury item! We also met many of the hostesses including Emma Noble who later recognised me at Heathrow Airport and introduced us to her then fiancé, James Major.
I was then asked to take part in a Bob Monkhouse documentary for Thames Television on quiz shows. I never actually met Bob as all my shots were done to camera with a researcher reading out the questions, but my role as a successful quiz contestant was to explain how to pass the audition in the first place.
I was also asked to appear on a Lowri programme for BBC2 about “lucky” people where we were asked what contributed to our success. I remember one couple being interviewed about the amount of prizes they had won entering slogan competitions and thinking how clever they were. I always put my success down to the fact that I needed the prizes as we never had any spare cash; my husband was never in the best in health and we had five children to support. It’s like being a “hungry” boxer – lack of money concentrates your mind wonderfully when you know, with the right amount of hard work (and that elusive element of luck), you can win all these wonderful prizes that other people can afford to buy.
I also did an interview for “Game Show Moments” where I was questioned at length about the shows I had done and the funny things that happened to me. I had thought it was only for one programme but apparently clips have been used in other shows and I was always getting phone calls saying – “See you were on the telly again last night!” and I knew nothing about it.