Rutland Wedding Photographer on TV: That time I was on ‘The Chase’

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I friggin love ‘The Chase’. I’ve watched it religiously since 2012, although saying that, I’ve not watched it since I was on it. Still trying to get over how close I was….and yet so far.

Getting on ‘The Chase’

It all began one September afternoon in 2018 when Bradley Walsh stared into my eyes and said “Come and have a go if you think you’re clever enough”. Granted it was on the tele, and of course he was talking to the nation and not just me. But in that moment…I thought: ‘Let’s do this’, picked up the iPad, followed the link and applied to be on ‘The Chase’.

Around two weeks later, sitting on the sofa arguing with the kids over watching ‘The Chase’ instead of ‘Go Jetters’ on Cbeebies, my phone rang. It was ITV! We had a chat, though little did I know that in actual fact it was an audition. I won’t say too much about the actual phone call and what happens as I really don’t want to spoil the experience for anyone who applies. Part of why the show does so well is because the whole process is an incredibly guarded and well kept secret and I totally respect that. I actually kept quiet about my experience for a year! I applied in September 2018, filmed in December 2018 and it was not aired until September 2019!

The audition

The whole process was an absolute whirlwind for me. I was told around 60 thousand people apply with some waiting up to 2-3 years before they ever get a call back – if they do. For me, it literally all happened within weeks. From the initial phone call to the live audition it was around 2-3 weeks. I was invited to London to attend auditions. There were around 10-15 of us present for our slot. They literally do back to back slots of these audition sessions. We all pretty much sat in a room, shuffling and making small talk about the experience we had had so far. Some of us were there because they were absolute quizzers, others, like me, were just there for fun and love of the show. One guy there had applied two years ago and then there was me, who had only just applied. We were not really told what was going on or what was going to happen so we just waited around, nervously! We were then led to a room where we were auditioned on camera. After, you’re led back to the waiting room to find out that they were going to tell you there and then if you were in. It’s very X-factorish and I felt sorry for the guy who had to make the announcement. I was half bent over in my seat ready to grab my bag and say my goodbyes, but I never heard my name called…which meant I was in, #buzzin!

We were then ‘processed’ and given the rules. We were told that we could end up waiting up to 2 years to get a call to be on the show, if we ever did. So nothing was ever guaranteed. I set a goal there and then that if I ever got on, I would want to just get back to the final chase, winning was just a bonus. I then left and went back to the day job.

The day of filming

A few weeks later, mid tearing my hair out building this very website, I received a call to be booked in for filming! I was to be at Elstree Studios within a few weeks time (on the day of the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ final) at very early o’clock in the morning. They film 3 shows a day and I was the second show. The first show participants must have had to turn up in the middle of the night because I was due in at the crack of dawn! I was told to bring a selection of outfits so they could see what looked good against the bright coloured lights of the set as well as what went well with the teammates outfit choices.

The Team

Ah yes, the team mates. Another hush hush experience! I was not told to meet directly inside Elstree Studios when I arrived. Instead I had to go to a local spot near the studio and wait to be collected by a member of the production team. I was at a hotel, waiting in the lobby. It was empty but then I noticed two others just hanging about at the reception desk and overheard them quietly speak in unfinished sentences: “Are you er…..here you know…er” Which is when I bounded over and asked them very frankly:’ You here for The Chase?!’

The three of us got chatting before being collected by a member of the production team in car. Inside the car was another contestant. That’s when the production member informed us we were a team! We stayed in the green room together throughout and were escorted everywhere. We never met another contestant from any other show recordings and only ever spoke to the production team who were all super lovely and made you feel incredibly welcome and comfortable. We were told that all the ‘chasers’ were there that day and that no one ever knew who it would be that we were facing until they walked out onto the set. Even the production team would not know in advance! The only thing we were told was the order we would be in. I was told I would be the last to face the chaser.

The Chase team photo

And we’re on…

IT IS SO DIFFERENT WHEN YOU ARE ON THERE, that’s what they always say don’t they? It absolutely is the truth! At home I do bloody well shouting out the answers when I am watching ‘The Chase’. Always have, I would not have applied if I didn’t think I was clever enough! (See what I did there?) But as soon as you walk through onto the set, see the bright screens and hear all the music, the nerves do take over. I was over the moon with the chaser that walked out I even applauded (but they cut that bit out!) ‘The Sinnerman’ was exactly who I wanted, because he is the nice one! And he was nice, to me at least! Watch and you’ll see.

Paul Sinah The Sinnerman The Chase

Filming was a very ‘stop-start’ process but I really didn’t get any time to stop, think and compose myself. The production team were always talking to us and trying to keep us ticking and alert. It was a very busy experience. It also totally put me off when I saw two contestants before me leave. I do look back and wince at most of my performance on there! I remember kicking myself over some of the answers or lack thereof. I KNEW the answers but, there and then they did not come out. Watching back I noticed they cut a lot of our interviews with Bradley out. I had had a good ol’ chinwag with him about London as he was from around the same place where I grew up, but all that was left out, which is a shame, as my very last question facing the chaser was coincidentally to do with the conversation I had with Bradley (about good old Barking & Dagenham). When that question came up everyone on set laughed and ‘The Sinnerman’ applauded but, hey ho, all that was cut out. Would have made better tele if you ask me!

My goal was to get back to the final chase and that I did. I played the game, it was a game after all. With two players out meant I took the lower offer, thankfully it wasn’t a ‘minus offer’. Looking back, I could have easily taken the higher offer and got back too, but hindsight is always perfect as the saying goes. Personally, I never even considered winning. I wish I had! I probably would have worked harder. But I just wanted to get back. Lesson from this, have more faith in myself! But then again, I was playing the game and you have to play the game!

For the final chase, you don’t get a chance at all to talk to teammates about game plans or what your strengths are or anything! I was told to pick ‘Set A or B’ and then we were running for our money. There is also a big clock in the corner that at one point I saw counting down the time we had left. I panicked and that’s when I started really started to fly through ‘passing’ and answering as many as I could. Adrenaline was high!

The Chase contestant

Alas, no win for us however I was incredibly grateful for ‘The Sinnerman’ acknowledging just how bloody difficult our questions were. He was a nice man, a very nice man. We left the set and then met the teammates who did not make it through to the final chase. We then were debriefed and said our goodbyes. I, unfortunately, have not spoken to the other teammates since! We never got to really exchange details. I think all of us were in a bit of a trance from start to finish.

Then I was back to waiting. Again, there was no guarantee that the show I was on would even been aired or it would be a long while before it was. And it was. It was a 9 month wait for me and during that time, and since, I haven’t watched an episode! Not because I fell out of love with the show, but because I relive my performance in my head and cringe!! I have only ever watched my performance once: the day it aired. But with all that being said, I don’t think I would have changed the experience for anything…apart from taking the higher offer and winning of course! I am still glad I did it and I did enjoy every second. I was on my favourite game show and I will never ever forget it.

via GIPHY

I do get a lot of questions asked about the day and experience hence why I wrote this. Some things I haven’t answered in my recount above so I decided to put below as a ‘Q&A’. Have more, let me know & I’ll try to answer!

Did you get paid at all?
Nopes! Nada. Actually you don’t get a thing, not even a signed autograph or a keyring. A shame really!

Did you meet Bradley and the Chasers before or after?
Again no. In fact the only time you meet and talk to them is during the game show bit. Even when the during the filming breaks, Bradley leaves! There is no interaction at all …which I suppose keeps the interactions during filming genuine.

Was there any rehearsal?
No. In the green room we were told to show and have some personality when we were to talk to Bradley or the chaser. It is prime time tele after all! But, there was no rehearsal or being told what to say. Though saying that, I never really wanted to spend any winnings on a mirrorless camera like I said I did. I initially said I wanted the money for a honeymoon that I have yet to have but because so many contestants say ‘go on holiday’ I was told it would be better to have a different answer. This was well in advance of the show. And once you give your answer you have to stick with it up until you are filmed.

How long did it take to film?
Filming took around an hour – it really is the length of the show you watch but it honestly felt like 15mins. The rest of the time was waiting in the green room. I was probably there for around 5 hours in total.

Were any of your teammates at the auditions with you?
No. I never saw those people again either!

Did you get hair and make up?
No. You were told to do it yourself beforehand and that their team would top it up,which was a shame as I was so looking forward to it!

Did you get a selfie with the teammates/the Chaser/Bradley?
I wish! The team at ‘The Chase’ take your phone off you when you get in. Locked away. I also had to give all my social media links to the team as apparently they keep tabs on you to see if you spill the beans before the show! I think if you do, they don’t air it? Not sure, maybe even take a few fingers.

Is the set like it is on the tele?
Yes! Even the music.

Who did you want as ‘The Chaser’?
I wanted ‘The Sinnerman’! In the green room I found out that two of us wanted ‘The Sinnerman’ and the other two wanted ‘The Dark Destroyer’ That’s who I DID NOT want!

Where can I see the episode?
I was on Series 13, episode 39. I doubt it’s on ITV player ‘catch up’ but I am sure you’ll catch it on repeat one day. Perhaps Challenge TV?!

Fancy it? DO it! I honestly got the quiz show bug and really would love to do £100k drop. I need a teammate…..interested?

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