Not much can happen in a matter of milliseconds. Its how long it takes to you to blink or click your fingers.
It can also be the difference between winning thousands of dollars on a game show, or going away empty handed. That's what I found out when I took the plunge as a contestant on The Chase.
Ever since I was little, I've been addicted to game shows. So much so, I decided to apply to be a contestant and fulfil a childhood dream of pushing giant red buzzers and putting my trivia skills to the test.
After waiting for what seemed like a small eternity after my application, I finally got the call up and flew to Melbourne to tape the show. Upon arriving, I met my fellow contestants Brad, Margaret and Kat, who would join me on the team. Despite having met each other for the first time only a few hours ago, we would have to work together in one of the most nerve-wracking environments.
Before we were able to step onto the set, we were first given the "How To Be A Good Game Show Contestant 101" run down by the producers. Their advice: don't give one word answers to host Andrew O'Keefe, showcase your personality, and if you don't know the answer, always have a guess; you might even be right.
After a trip to hair and make-up (yes, that included the guys as well), and a wardrobe check, we had to nervously wait in the green room for the previous episode to finish taping. If you want to imagine how it feels before you walk onto a game show set, picture the nervousness of every job interview and first date combined and add the excitement of a child about to open their Christmas presents. It wasn't that I was only nervous about just getting a question wrong, I was more worried about embarrassing myself on TV and inadvertently becoming a meme in the process.
Finally, it was time to tape the show, but before we could answer any questions, we had to get the most awkward task out of the way: introducing yourself to the audience by staring down the barrel of the camera, while trying to smile as much as possible. Surprisingly, this simple task was the most difficult part of the whole afternoon.
At this point, the identity of our opponent, the all-knowing trivia mastermind known as The Chaser, was kept secret. It was only as he walked onto set that we knew we would be up against Brydon Coverdale, known as "The Shark".
I was contestant three, meaning I had to steady my nerves as I watched Margaret win $18,000 and John win $16,000 before it was my turn.
I was told where to stand for my chat with host Andrew during the "Cash Builder Round", where I would have one minute to answer as many questions as possible, getting $2000 for each correct answer.
After a quick (if not slightly nervous) banter with Andrew, it was time for a deep breath and the questions to begin. The questions came quick, and just as I got used to the rhythm of it, it was over as quickly as it had begun. Somehow, I had managed to get nine questions correct, giving me $18,000 to play for. But first, I had to beat The Chaser.
In the multiple choice round, some questions were easy (What Stanley Kubrick film was subtitled How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb?), or some were complete guesses (What is the most commonly used noun according to the Oxford Dictionary?).
While it's easy to yell at people for not knowing the answer to a question while you're at home, it's a very different story under studio lights. Even the easiest questions seem difficult and you start to double guess your double guesses. Thankfully, I managed to somehow make it through.
With Kat bringing back $10,000 to the team, we now sat on a kitty of $62,000 to play for. While our aim at first was just to make it to the final, our goal was now set squarely on winning the cash.
As team captain for the final, I was tasked with selecting the set of questions we would answer in our two minutes. I also had to act as a spokesman for the team in case The Chaser answered a question incorrectly.
After getting 16 questions right, we could only sit back and watch as The Shark tried to better us. While we had several chances to push The Chaser back a step, we only converted two from seven attempts, meaning it would be a tight finish.
Tight was an understatement. With just seconds seconds left on the clock, The Shark only had to answer one more question to win. As he started to sound out the answer, the buzzer sounded. We thought we had won, but our elation soon turned to agony, with the result being so close the executives had to check the tapes to confirm the result.
We were kept waiting on set for what felt like hours, my heart feeling like it had permanently lodged in my mouth. Finally, a decision was made, and after the longest, most dramatic pause, Andrew told us we had won. For a group of strangers who only met hours before, we had somehow come together to win $62,000 among the four of us. Not bad for an afternoons work.
Its not every day that you get to live out a childhood dream, and for a result that came down to milliseconds, you couldnt have asked for a better script.
The Chase Australia airs 5pm weeknights on Channel 7.
Andrew Brown is a journalist at the Sunday Canberra Times. Andrew has worked at the Canberra Times since 2016.
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