02 March 2009


pic of Paul Gambaccini
Went to Broadcasting House this evening to record my heat of Counterpoint. I'm probably not supposed to give away the result. You'll have to wait until 13 April to hear how I got on. Which I see is Easter Monday. Don't know if that means more or fewer people will listen.

I can remember very little of the evening to be honest. No, not pissed, just very keyed up. The rehearsal was a dummy go at the buzzer round, which I won! I was a little bit tactical, not buzzing on every answer I knew. I'm not sure that's a good tactic though. Probably would have been better to go for everything I thought I knew. But I don't deal in intimidation and my two opponents (a consultant haematologist and a retired university lecturer - posh, much?) were nice guys.

My heat was the second one on, so I watched the first one from the stalls. Two very quizzer-looking men and a frail-looking woman, who did better than I expected. One of their special subjects was "Australian classical musicians", which no-one chose. Unsurprisingly. I'd have been reduced to saying "Joan Sutherland" until it was the right answer. There was an awful lot of silence in the first heat. It'll be interesting to see how they cut it for broadcast.

In my heat, the specialist subjects were musical knights, conductors, British pop music before the Beatles, and Schoenberg, Berg and Webern. If I mention that two of my answers were Tommy Steele and Helen Shapiro, you'll guess which subject I went for. If you're old enough. Anyone could guess which subject no-one chose.

I was really happy that my sister and her husband came along to the recording. But even with a lot of friendly faces in the audience, I was tense beyond belief. It's now 11:30 and I'm still coming down. So tense that I completely forgot the name of the club in Liverpool where the Beatles first performed.

Paul Gambaccini (above) was a great host - relaxed, funny, engaging.

Inevitably, Gilbert & Sullivan raised their unmusical unfunny undramatic uninteresting heads again. Once again, annoyingly, I knew the answer, but didn't get the chance to give it. The cons. haem. and I agreed we both can't stand 'em.

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