STILLMAN ON SUNDAY is back – over 10 years since my column was mysteriously banned, sorry, pulled from its regular weekly newspaper slot.

 

STILLMAN on SUNDAY …  

on Wednesday, April 20, 2016

 

SEE ME GO HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH PAUL SINHA ON TV’s THE CHASE QUIZ SHOW NEXT WEEK       

 

FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL: My Big Pink Quiz Book

 

This is the A4 spiral notebook I came to know as The Big Pink Quiz Book that became my life, my obsession across most of last year.

But how did it come to this?

In November 2014 I applied to be a contestant on The Chase quiz show.

I’ve never gone into anything in life half-cock, despite what my ex-girlfriends may claim to the contrary.

So to give myself the best chance in the unlikely event of being accepted onto the programme, I bought the notebook for £1.49 from Poundstretcher.

I resolved to fill it with every fact known to man, hand-written, of course.

This would mean I could swot away to my heart’s content without adding to my already excessive, eye-wearying online usage.

And I could add to it whenever I came across a fascinating fact that show host Bradley Walsh might one day throw at me.

 

FROM BRAD TO WORSE: The Chase host Bradley Walsh after hearing one of my jokes

 

But would it work?

At the age of four I was a strange Village of the Damned/The Midwich Cuckoos-style changeling.

I would amaze and scare relatives in equal measure by working out three-figure square roots in my head and reciting the last 50 years’ Grand National winners.

But years of brain cell-eroding drinking had taken its toll of my capacity for general knowledge stardom.

I was nowadays more DENSA than MENSA … or so I thought.

In the months ahead all 120 once virginal pages became filled, nay, drowned, with pieces of useless information.

I had an eclectic mix of subjects in there: kings and queens, capitals, currencies, prime ministers, the planets, US presidents and state capitals, James Bond films … all the staples of the quiz show circuit.

 

DROWNING IN A SEA OF FACTS: The inside of my Big Pink Quiz Show

 

Empowered by my faithful pink notebook, the facts began to effortlessly bed in, just like they had all those years ago. And I became confident.

Very early on I revised every Olympic Games venue and they stuck within an hour.

I knew the currency of Bhutan is the Ngultrum, that pentheraphobia is a fear of mother-in-laws and I knew the population of Mozambique and could name every one of them (OK, so perhaps I’m exaggerating a tad with those last two).

 

CLASH OF THE COMICS: Paul Sinha

 

But would all my cerebral labours be for nowt?

There were times when I thought it would have been easier to get into the KGB than be accepted to go on The Chase quiz show, so rigorous and protracted was the vetting process.

But then, this is not surprising when you consider 39,000 original applicants have to be whittled down to just a final 640 contestants for the new series.

Online forms, phone interviews, Sheffield-based auditions, more online forms and phone interviews, phone quizzes, more phone quizzes, the list was endless.

And then the words I had longed for finally came - 11 months after I first applied: ‘You’re definitely on the show.’

The show was filmed on October 11 last year and will be screened next Tuesday (April 26) at 5pm on ITV1 (6pm on ITV+1).

 

THE PROOF: Sky-Plus says I’m on The Chase next Tuesday (April 26)

 

All I am contractually allowed to mention is that I said with any winnings I would reinvest in this book business and have another crack at the World Crazy Golf Championships (my best finish is 39th in 2008). Oh, and I can tell you that my team was up against Paul Sinha in a clash of the comics (I was once the Edinburgh Festival’s Mister Stillers – Bedfordshire’s Premier Topless Stand-Up Comedian).

The so-called ‘Sinnerman’ has been fourth in Mastermind and third in the Brain of Britain.

But will Paul be any match for me and my Big Pink Quiz Book?

Tune in next week to find out …