I seriously got into the world of competitions after appearing on The Exit List with a good friend of mine after we walked away with £17,000, and recently I appeared on The Tipping Point and the The Edge! If you can get over the nerves of appearing on TV, a game show can be a brilliant way of scooping truly fantastic prizes; often cash!
People often ask me how I find out about shows that are looking for contestants; but, to be honest that’s the easy part! There are several websites that are a game show contestant’s bible - http://www.beonscreen.com/ - this is a great one and covers all the channels; you’ll need to register (which is free) before you get started. The BBC has its own page dedicated to hopeful contestants - http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/beonashow/ - as does ITV - http://www.itv.com/beontv/ - and Channel 4 - http://www.channel4.com/programmes/take-part – other sites to keep an eye on are Lost in TV - http://www.lostintv.com/ and ukgameshows - http://ukgameshows.com/ukgs/Contestant_Calls. There are others out there, but this little lot will set you in good stead to get started! When you start actively looking it’s sometimes a good idea to go for ‘new shows’ as often these will get fewer applicants, or pilot ones (these do sometimes give away cash even though they won’t actually air). The more well-known quiz shows get inundated with applications and if you’re new to this then it can be disheartening to not even get an acknowledgment.
When applying for a show, consider one that needs a partner or two. When I went for my very first game show audition (which was for a lottery show – and we didn’t get on) I went with my best friend. The same with The Exit List; I applied with a good friend. It will give you support if you’re nervous and it’s actually a pretty good day out; the researchers are brilliant at dealing with nerves so will always put you at ease! It’s a fantastic chance to experience something like this with a mate! And it’ll give you loads to talk about for weeks to come! I would never have had the confidence to apply on my own when I first started doing this!
The first steps to applying is the ‘application form’; you need to make this as unusual as you can (without lying of course!) to stand out from the crowd. There will be general questions such as name, address, age, marital status, children, what you do for a living etc. But the production company is also looking for things such as; what would you do with a certain amount of money if you won it? Any interesting hobbies you may have? Funny situations you’ve been in? Unusual facts about yourself? Take time to answer – as these are the ones that will pretty much guarantee you a telephone interview if they are amusing and different. The TV companies are looking for individuals/groups that are confident, funny and interesting. You’ll also need a decent photograph of yourself/your group. And it will need to be a recent one too.
It’s a good idea to save all your application forms as they are useful to refer to when you’re starting on a new one! To be honest a lot of the answers you can even copy and paste! Once you’ve whizzed your form back you’ll usually get an acknowledgment of receipt and then you just need to think positive thoughts and cross your fingers.
If the production team are interested then you’ll receive a telephone call (so make sure the number you put on your application is one that they can get you on, I always use my mobile). Sometimes you’ll get a call almost straight after you’ve submitted your form other times (as it was with Tipping Point, it can be weeks, when you’ve almost given up hope!). When they call, it’ll be a really informal chat, possibly talking about some points on your form and just generally getting a feel for the kind of person you are and whether you’re suitable for the show. At the end of the call they’ll usually ask you some general knowledge questions; don’t panic. It really doesn’t matter at this stage whether you get one or ten right! Try to come across as fun and bubbly, they don’t want a shrinking wall flower – they’re looking for confidence. If you’ve impressed then you’ll get invited to an audition, sometimes they do this straight away on the call and other times they’ll call you back. Auditions are often short notice so prepare to be a bit flexible. And they’ll always be in your nearest big city, like London, Manchester, Glasgow etc.
Audition stage – well done! Often making it to an audition is a fantastic achievement as a lot of shows have had literally thousands of applicants. This is the time when you really need to forget your nerves and just go for it. Appearing on TV isn’t for the faint hearted, so regardless of the type of quiz show it is, they will be looking for confidence. The only thing I can say about this is be yourself; try to be funny, friendly and memorable! They will be auditioning sometimes hundreds of people so you need stand out. You’ll meet other hopeful contestants, be asked a few general knowledge questions, play a team game (sometimes this might be based on the show itself) and be interviewed on your own. Wear something smart (but not boring) and sensible shoes!! I’ve made the mistake too often of traipsing across London in my heels to arrive with blisters! Normally at the audition you will be asked about future dates within a time scale that you can and can’t do. Try to be as flexible as you can. I’m pretty sure I missed out on a show because I just couldn’t do the majority of the dates.
Once the audition stage is over there will usually be a short-list. If you don’t make it onto this then that will be the last you’ll hear of your application for that particular show. Once you’ve been shortlisted filming generally takes place fairly soon, so if you’ve been successful you will usually find out pretty quickly.
And if you make it – wow, fantastic!! At this stage you’ll be briefed about what you can wear, sign a contract and be given all the finer details! On the day itself there will be a lot of waiting around, you’ll get to experience the green room (the one I had for The Exit List had a double bed and a full bathroom!), be fed and watered, buffed in the hair and make-up room and generally made to feel like a celebrity! Enjoy it, it really is a once in a lifetime experience (or maybe more if you’re lucky) and if you win, fantastic, if you don’t, just look on it as a run through for future shows when you hopefully will! Good luck!