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Question time for the 100% quiz hopefuls.

QUIZ show champ Margaret Thomas wasn't happy.

She'd just won an audition for Channel 5's general knowledge programme 100% by scoring 67 correct answers from 100 questions.

Yet despite wiping the floor with the 40 other would-be contestants present - including this clueless reporter - Margaret didn't give herself top marks.

With a TV track record that boasts a Mastermind semi-final appearance and wins in Fifteen to One and Countdown, the retired teacher said she could do better.

The frightening admission highlighted the super-competitiveness of the TV quiz show world - and underlined how hopelessly out of my depth I was.

Yet the audition, held at Birmingham city centre's Comfort Inn, had started so well.

We were welcomed by two smiling researchers from 100% production company, Grundy, and I sailed through the first few questions: name, address, and occupation.

Unfortunately, things went rapidly downhill from there.

Following an introductory talk we were handed a test paper with 100 questions, including 50 multiple choice, and given 10 minutes to complete it.

I took five minutes on the very first poser: What is the colour of the maple leaf on the Canadian flag?

I knew the flag was red and white but for the life of me I couldn't recall which parts were which colour.

I glanced at the woman sitting next to me and to my horror saw she was already on question 36!

Amazingly, I scored 53 per cent which was just above average - but way below the standard of the real general knowledge experts.

Margaret, aged 57, of Rugeley, Staffordshire, has used her general knowledge skills to win holidays and cash from numerous TV appearances. Two years ago she also reached the semi-finals of Mastermind.

She said: "They are a lot of fun and, although the prizes are good, they are not the reason I take part. I just want to pit my wits against other contestants."

Pharmacy development manager Trevor Gore, of Rugby, was another quiz-show addict. He said: "I've won a heat of Fifteen To One and was once on ITV's Catchphrase."

Former Countdown contestant David Smith, aged 51, of Smethwick, Birmingham, said: "Quiz shows bring out the show-off in you. You get a real buzz winning and it's the only hobby I know that can actually win you a holiday abroad."

But not everyone present was an old hand at the trivia game. Unemployed John Boden, aged 18, of Dudley, was one of many first-timers taking part.

He said: "I saw a newspaper advert and thought I'd give it a bash but I only scored 33 per cent. It seemed a lot easier on TV."

Contestant researcher Willie Norton said: "We hold regular auditions around the country to help us find 50 to 60 new contestants every month.

"A real cross section of people turn up from students and housewives to taxi drivers and bankers."

In fact, a high score does not guarantee an appearance on TV. Everyone has to complete a personality profile which also helps the programme makers decide if they are right for the show.

Willie thanked everyone for attending and said he would be in touch in a few weeks if any of us had been selected for TV stardom.

"Don't call us, we'll call you," he laughed - but I suspect my phone won't be ringing.

Are you a quiz show or a puzzle addict? Have you won a holiday, car or thousands of pounds by entering competitions? Write to us now at Talkabout, Sunday Mercury, 28 Colmore Circus, Birmingham B4 6AZ.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Larner, Tony
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jul 11, 1999
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