Watch the whole episode here now as it unfolds OR read the story below with spoilers.
I first applied to appear on Wheel of Fortune in November 1999, it used to be on telly when Rose and I got home from work (she worked in Portobello for Scottish Power, I worked in Leith for Electrum), so we didn’t live too far away. We watched it as we had our tea (she made it, I ate it). It was fun to mock the sad individuals who had time on their hands to appear on gameshows and the level of the "general knowledge" questions and the quality of the puzzles.
A simple application form came through the door a couple of days after I had sent off a letter to Cowcaddens (ah – Glen Michael’s address), which I filled in, sent back and heard no more of.
Early January 2000, I was called in for an interview at the Scottish Media Group building in George Street. I reckon this was the "psycho" check, i.e. make sure you aren’t a complete fu**ing weirdo and don’t collect guns etc. It went reasonably well, they chatted about my hobbies and asked some general knowledge questions (all of which were pretty easy and I was worried that getting them alright was the wrong thing to do?!?!).
Anyway, I had forgotten all about Wheel of Fortune again when the letter came to say, "Congratualtions, you have been chosen … blah … blah … blah". Wow, the chance to go on telly, the chance to win money, the chance to win prizes, the chance to look like an idiot in front of everyone I know (and everyone I don’t know).
In true showbiz style, I had to make my own way through to Glasgow for filming and was told to arrive at 10am. I hopped on the 9am train from Edinburgh and got there on time, in the pissing rain, with all of my clothes now creased thanks to the weather and the train. Upon arrival, I was shown to a conference room, where there were seats for 14 other contestants!
After some really boring intros and explanations, we had to sit through the rules of the game. The guy had a big whiteboard and we had to "practice". Do these people not know the rules already? They also told us what it was going to be like on the set and how it would be best to say things like "M for Mother" and "T for Tommy" when we were choosing our letters.
Then this wee woman came in and took everyones clothes for the show away to be ironed – woo hoo!
There were 15 of us there for the day, so they were going to film five shows, I was chosen in Show 4. This meant I had to sit and wait and watch while they filmed 3 other shows. Although this did allow me to get to know my fellow competitors and try and lull them into a false sense of security by making them think I was a Village Idiot. Additionally it meant I was first in the lunch queue.
On The Set
By the time I actually got down onto the set, it was around 2pm. I had been there since first thing that morning and was getting a bit agitated. It took about an hour to film a 23 minute show! The first thing you notice about the set when you get on it, is (a) how bright it is and (b) how crap / fake it is. Things you see on telly that look shiny, new and cool are actually shiny, old and fake.
I got to stand in the middle position for the game and our microphones were attached. The other 2 contestants I was with were two girls, Joanne Smith, who hardly spoke all day and hardly did anything on the show and unfortunately only walked away with the Wheel of Fortune watch.
The other (the one on the right in the picture) was a bit wilder. She was an extrovert blonde who had streaks in her hair, a Union Jack top and a thong on (which I could see the whole time we were on set). Her name was Miranda Somethingorother. Maybe this was her plan to unsettle me :-) who knows!
Anyway, about to start filming in 5 minutes, so a runner was despatched to get the "stars" – John Leslie (former Blue Peter presenter and brother of Forth One’s Grant Stott) and Jenny Powell (former childrens TV presenter).
John is a tall guy, but had a lot of makeup on and was a bit of a w*nker. He was so smarmy and nice when the cameras rolled but as soon as they stopped you could tell he wished he had never signed up to do 100+ episodes of daytime Wheel Of Fortune. Jenny Powell on the other hand was very attractive and very nice to everyone, I don’t have a bad word to say about her :-) Plus I got a kiss at the end of the show so I’m not complaining.
We had to film the opening to the show, which meant upon the Director’s cue, we all had to wave at the camera. I felt and probably looked, like a right idiot.
After a tremendous start by me here, the wheel was unkind and I let Miranda in to win the round. She picked the all important G and cleaned up. She also got some sort of bonus for an extra £100! The £100 note that you see John Leslie give her is fake and is only brought out. She didn’t get to keep it and got a cheque later on in the day!
- R for Rose
- L for Love
A lot better for me on this round, I did most of the work before going bankrupt! However I managed to get another shot since the girls were unable to guess the puzzle! I chose the £250 worth of CD which I used to buy a Sega Dreamcast (amongst other things!).
- D for Dog
- G for Giraffe
- K for Karate
The moment I had been dreading. When John Leslie makes you tell your "funny story", your "amusing anecdote". I had been unable to come up with one clean enough, funny enough or bland enough to tell on the show so the evening before, Rose and I concocted the following story, which I did indeed tell on the show.
The basic jist of the story was that I was leaving for work one day and had just put my tuna sandwhiches in my rucksack. I had recently acquired 2 kittens and upon getting my rucksack from under my desk at lunchtime and opening my bag, one of my kittens was inside.
Yuck! What an awful story, but they bought it! The audience’s canned "awwwwwwwwwww", said it all.
Half time, points were, Joanne (0), Ed (6000) and Miranda (2500). I’m in the lead.
OK, there is no commercial break, they just put that in there when it goes on TV :-)
A pretty short and uninteresting round, Miranda won this one again after some aimless guessing by everyone. She chose £250 worth of perfume and also won another £100 bonus with some extra puzzle. Easy money!
- M for Margaret
This was the final round and Ed wins it. This is where I racked up enough points to win (well that and the double points in the round before!). We chose almost every letter on the dam board and it got so bad that people were choosing Zs and Qs etc. basically on the wall, for the contestants to see, not the camera is a big board and it’s someone’s job to tick off the letters as they are chosen. That way the contestants don’t waste their time and save their embarrasement by picking the same letter twice. Sometimes you can see me looking up at it.
- N for Norman
End of the contest, final points were, Joanne (7200), Ed (11800) and Miranda (6400). I had done it, I had done what Scotland had never – reached the next phase of a tournament!
As you may have guessed by now – I found myself in the "end game". This consisted of choosing 5 consonants and 1 vowel. These letters would be inserted into a puzzle – which you then had 15 seconds to solve.
Sounds easy – done it a hundred times at home. No it was not easy!
The board revolved round and John Leslie announced it was a TV Show. "Excellent" – I thought. After all the humming and hawing I decided to go with the letters I had chosen the night before and decided to ignore all of the suggestions and hints people had given me.
I chose R, S, T, M, N and E and I almost pissed myself when I saw the amount of letters lighting up on the board. It was almost impossible to think – I had half the letters yet I could’t even visualise what it was. John Leslie turned to me and said "You have 15 seconds to solve it".
OK – here is the scenario – my leg is shaking with nervousness, I cannot even think straight, in one eye is a huge tv spotlight, the room is dark and in the other eye is John Leslie "willing me" on (no help). In the end of course, I didn’t get it and lost out on the chance of £2000
Ever since – everyone I know has solved the puzzle easily – but I still say – it was a lot harder when you are actually up there. As you can see from the video, I got the "SO", but I was trying to get a (brand new) TV show and the problem was, it’s someones name! Excuses excuses I hear you say? Ah well, that’s mine and I am sticking to it!
Not winning the 2 grand really pissed me off but I still walked away with a spanking new microwave and £250 worth of CDs, which I’ve spent already.
All the laughter, clapping, ooooing and aaaaing is added on in the edit. There is no studio audience at all during filming.