A ‘Brush’ with TV Quizzing…

by Bhagwan Manku

Being a contestant on a quiz show is a super-fun whirlwind. Being on two quiz shows… well, let’s just say I’m a sucker for punishment!

As a Manchester Dental School alumni (graduating in 2015), we have all experienced the rollercoaster ride of dentistry, but being a contestant on both ITV’s ‘The Chase’ and BBC2’s ‘Only Connect’ was a different kind of ride altogether!

It was always on my bucket list to go on a quiz show, and one evening I plucked up the courage to fill out the application form for ‘The Chase’. I heard nothing for months and then suddenly, I get a call and there I was in Birmingham auditioning.

After more follow-up phone auditions, the day finally arrived where I was whisked down to Elstree Studios. I met my team for the first time; Maureen, Paul and Laura, a really friendly, lovely bunch. We were ushered to the studio, nerves jangling, and introduced to Bradley Walsh who said “I’m the fifth member of the team, let’s just pretend we’re in the pub doing a quiz”. Very funny, kind-hearted and warm.

Cameras start to roll and out comes Anne Hegarty aka The Governess. I was fourth to play in the line up, and let’s just say I managed to get through to the Final Chase despite all the odds and we walked away victorious!

We vowed to stay in touch and then the pandemic hit… At the start of 2021, we hear that ‘Only Connect’ – the self-confessed hardest quiz show on television – were looking for contestants. Paul said, “If we can’t have a ‘Chase’ reunion because of the restrictions, let’s apply for this and we can hopefully reunite there!”

We sent off the application form calling ourselves the ‘Jukeboxers’ after our love of music, and after a hilariously chaotic Zoom audition, we got an invite to be one of sixteen teams for Series 17.

We travelled down to Cardiff twice for two lots of filming as we progressed through the competition. Victoria Coren Mitchell was a delight – very witty and we had many a fun conversation in between takes. My team made it through to the third round which we were very proud of as there were some tough questions and formidable quizzing brains we were up against.

Overall, both quiz shows were absolutely amazing to be a part of and such great memories and experiences which I will cherish for a long time… and who knows, maybe another game show may come calling. It is a rather addictive experience after all!

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