The Weakest Link contestant
March 2010- The Weakest Link TV show contestant!
Aired BBC1 May 2010, 5pm.
When I was on my gap year, my little sister dared me to go on The Weakest Link as I used to come home and watch it when I came home after work. Naturally I said yes in an instant. After quickly filling out an application, I didn’t hear anything for 11 months until my first year of university. After a random cold call from the BBC and an audition in a mysterious Wembley hotel suite in November 2009, I found myself on the train to the BBC Studios in Glasgow, Scotland.
I was really happy that there was a complimentary train and overnight hotel stay etc. so that was enough of a reason to go! …And what an absolutely crazy experience it was!
It first almost went pear-shaped when I realized I had forgotten any sort of trousers to wear on the show. All I had was my Nike joggers that I was wearing for the journey so I quickly ran into Fat Face in London Euston and picked up some jeans. Don’t think the joggers would have gone down well on BBC1 tea time TV.
I think very few things in the world could possibly be as nerve-racking not just because of being on prime time TV but also to come against the demon lady herself- Anne Robinson. In the auditions, they ran a screen test on us to see how well we could handle banter and I remember the producer saying ‘So you’re a uni student are you? You look about 12!’ to which I responded ‘Well, you look about 70!’ and that was enough to get through.
I didn’t get much sleep the night before naturally as I was so nervous so I sat up watching episodes of the show I had put on my laptop. Nothing like doing a bit of ‘revision’. I had to wake at 4.30am and got picked up from the hotel at 5am. Breakfast was awkward as it was just a bunch of random individuals sitting alone on random tables- obviously they were my fellow contestants who were all in the same boat as me- I just hadn’t met them yet.
The BBC Studios Glasgow were absolutely gorgeous, high-tech buildings. The contestants and I were led into a specific holding area.Throughout the morning, we went through briefings about how the game is played and the rules, each contestant also had a meeting with one of the producers who went through our entire life bio which we had given (as material for Anne to interrogate us on). They had literally researched everything about me from where I was born to what type of microwave meals I feast on at university lol!
We then had costume checks (it had to be light colours and not black so I chose pink) and lastly we went into make-up.
Eventually by about 9am we were ready to shoot. We were led into the studio which was a lot smaller than what you might see on TV. We were deliberately deprived of water so as to prevent us from going to the toilet during the show, which was hard considering how much we had to talk and the heat of the spotlights. The technology was pretty astounding- the studio in fact stretches for about a good 40 metres behind the camera.
After some technicalities, all of a sudden the lights went dim, dry-ice filled the studio and there was a quick, haunting silence in the studio. In the distance- and quite literally out of the darkness emerged the show’s presenter draped in her black dress completely in character. She jumped up onto her central podium and looked straight down onto her screen. And that was it! That famous jingle came from the very small speakers in the studio and her ‘Welcome to The Weakest Link’ line belted out. The cameras rolled right off with no time to actually appreciate we were now in the famous game show opposite Anne Robinson.
I had a mental checklist of things to do eg. DO NOT be voted off in the first round, Stay long enough to talk to Anne, Do something memorable. I knew as a 19 year old student I was not seriously going to stay long enough to win so I had to have a checklist.
I think my first question was ‘What is the children’s game where 2 points need to be connected with a line. Join the -‘ I replied ‘Dots.’ And that was it- I was one question through. I remember the woman next to me was terribly nervous and said ‘pass’ instead of ‘bank’ therefore losing us lots of money. She went off first! Woo!
The highlight of the show will no doubt be when Anne came to speak to me after the second round. (She spoke to me twice in total). I remember striking up some jokes banter about my time working in Parliament and how I’ve worked with more scary women haha. Lots of the conversation was edited out on TV. I tried to deliberately bring in my bhangra dancing that I do at university just so I could do a performance. I have no shame about it- might as well go out with a bang! I told her I performed recently at Sadler’s Wells for the LSE show (which she already knew from my bio) to which she asked me to put my voting board down and show some steps. And the rest was history!
I will never forget watching the show live in LSE Bankside with a gang of mates, as well as family and friends all over who had tuned in on TV and iPlayer. The entire place was in hysterics. My phone was going off like crazy and by the end of the day about my facebook wall was flooded. I took a screenshot of my dancing that went somewhat ‘viral’ on facebook (above).
Walking into Ministry of Sound on a night out the following week, I remember people stopping me everywhere- it was hilarious being a mini-celebrity for a few weeks but I was just happy to have represented young people and the Desi community. Nonetheless, I was voted off in the 5th round- far exceeding my expectations- I think they knew I was throwing the show in that round with my consecutive ridiculous answers!
All in all, it was an experience of a lifetime that I think really blew my mind about the power of TV and the force that is the BBC. Although I haven’t actually watched the DVD since it’s recording at the time in 2010 (I have only seen the show once!), I will one day pluck up the courage to watch it again and maybe put it on YouTube…