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Silence and modesty

The phantom blogger returns!  Yes, I have again done the fade on my own blog and completely failed to post anything for several months.  But this time, I have an actual legitimate excuse – I was actually bound by a confidentiality clause from talking about the main thing going on in my life which was the main thing I wanted to write about.  Now I can talk a bit about it though not everything. Confused? Awesome!

So last year  it was announced that TVNZ was going to relaunch the TV quiz show Mastermind which ran in NZ from the 1970’s to the early 1990’s and which runs in the UK.  They were making a few tweaks to it – such as adding a New Zealand round but it was the same basic premise – you get quizzed on a specialist subject and general knowledge while sitting under a spotlight in a chair you’ll get to keep if you win the final.  It was apparently invented by someone who had been interrogated during WWII ana d thought it was a nifty idea to base a quiz show around.  Still confused?  Here’s a Mini Celebrity Version with David Tennant to give you an idea, and because, well David Tennant.

Because my general knowledge is pretty good and I know everything there is to know about Harry Potter I decided to apply. They gave me a call and had a chat to me (obviously checking that I’m not a raving loony) and then they invited me along to an audition.  At the audition, they asked me progressively more difficult questions which they didn’t tell if I’d got the right answers or not (queue some intense googling when I got home).  A couple of weeks later I was invited to another audition – this one via skype, where again I answered another lot of random questions. After a few weeks, I was told I had a place in the heats!

So I spent a lot of the next few months studying my Harry Potter (such a hardship!) and watching A LOT of the quiz show The Chase, and basically trying to cram my head full of as many random facts as I could.

At Easter instead of looking forward to a relaxing four day weekend, I found myself driving into town at 8am on a Saturday feeling so nervous I actually felt sick, wondering what on earth made me think this was in any way a good idea.

In true television form it was hours before filming began – we were the first heat recorded so they were still getting everything sorted.  I was the first contender (we’re contenders in Mastermind, not contestants) and the first round was our specialist subject, I answered 12 questions in 90 seconds on Harry Potter and mispronounced the Latin on one answer meaning I had a total score of 11 for the round. An hour or so of filming later, I’d won my heat and was through to the semi-final.

For the next month, I barely watched anything that wasn’t either Doctor Who (Specialist subject for my semi) or The Chase.  And in early May I found myself back at Auckland University feeling nervous, wondering what on earth I was thinking with three other contenders.  I still did pretty well in the Semi’s, I got answered 8 questions correctly about Doctor Who, gave two ludicrously bad wrong answers and passed on one. In the end, I scored 20 to the winner’s 23.

So what can I learn from all of this?

Firstly, I do in fact speak Potter as a second language.  There was only one answer that I really had to think about for any length of time, and the only answer I got wrong was more of mispronunciation than not knowing the answer. I’d always said that I knew everything there was to know about Harry Potter – I wasn’t exaggerating.

Secondly , winning by a large margin is quite difficult in some ways.  As a kiwi, we’re hard-wired to be modest, but it’s very hard to be modest when you’ve won the heat of a very difficult quiz show by 8 points (still the biggest winning margin of the series with 2 shows to go). Being modest when people are making comments like ‘you absolutely crushed them!’ sounds insincere but there’s no real guidebook for winning really convincingly without sounding like a show-off.  I’m still figuring that out.

Thirdly, some facts I will never forget these include:

  1. The name of John Lumex’s company is Cybus Industries (I’m REALLY kicking myself over that one).
  2. Rose and the newly-regenerated 10th doctor arrived on Christmas Eve not Christmas day (what would have happened if I’d just said Christmas) It’s Martha ReeveS and the Vandella’s not Martha Reeve (no seriously).
  3. The Earl of Cumberland fought the Scots at Culloden not the Earl of Cumbria.

Fourth, it’s odd how some answers come out the answer to one of my questions was Hitler. I could easily said Hitler and been right and saved myself time, but for reasons unknown, I felt the need to say Adolf Hitler – you know as opposed to his cousin Bob Hitler.

And finally Trivial Pursuit Harry Potter and Doctor Who both have incorrect answers  – you know you’ve chosen the right specialist subject when you argue with Trivial Pursuit.

So that’s been the excitement of my year so far, I was on the front page of the local paper, my parents were inundated with phone calls from people they know and fielded a lot of questions on where my brains came from (my Dad has taken to saying he’s not sure who the milkman was).

I had hoped that having proven myself as the country’s Harry Potter expert that someone would send me to London to see the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or at least give me a free copy of the script which is being published this month but I guess you can’t have everything.

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