Top Tips: get on a TV game show

I love TV game shows – if you want to take your comping a step further, there’s no better thrill! And despite what you might think, it’s not that difficult to get on a TV game show – especially a brand new one.

When I recorded Ejector Seat I found out they interviewed 3,000 applicants nationwide and 300 of them appeared on the show – that’s a 1-in-10 chance of getting on. Also, there’s no need to panic – it really isn’t as scary as it looks. Believe it or not, I used to be terrified of doing anything in public – it was when I got into comping I realised there were prizes out there that could only be won if you were brave enough to call up a radio DJ or appear on TV.

My first taste of the limelight was when I accompanied friends to a recording of The Price is Right and I was chosen from the audience to ‘come on down’. Actually, that’s a lie – they asked ‘Diane Coke’ to come on down. ‘I don’t know anyone of that name!’ I huffed (being called Diane is my pet hate!) but I was given a shove and soon found myself rushing down the stairs, waving my arms in a wild manner. As for correctly estimating the price of a rocking horse and small caravan, well, I was hopeless. I was one of the first names to be called, but lost every round so I didn’t get to play any of the cheesy games. Despite leaving empty-handed, the experience of being on TV gave me such a thrill I just knew I had to do it again…

Top tips: How to get on a TV Game Show or Quiz Show

Over the next few years I applied for several shows via websites and newspaper ads, and have recorded:

  • Supermarket Sweep – where my good comping friend Kathy & I shared a £398 win (the pink Supermarket Sweep sweatshirt was more of a win to me than the cash)
  • Are you smarter than a ten year old? – where I was delighted to win £7500 towards my wedding and honeymoon
  • 1 vs 100 – in this National Lottery show, only one person from the hundred contestants gets a chance to play for the cash. I was sitting next to a lively transvestite – perhaps unsurprisingly, s/he was the ‘chosen one’!
  • Divided – the most traumatising of the lot, where like idiots we argued away most of our £100K+ prize fund and I took £2,720 home
  • Dirty Rotten Cheater – hosted by Brian Conley, this was one of a flurry of ‘mean’ gameshows that surfaced in the 2000s after the success of GoldenBalls. I was the ‘dirty rotten cheater’ and didn’t cover my tracks well enough, and was the only one of the 5 contestants who went home empty handed!
  • Word Play – I went on this because my childhood hero Jenny Powell was hosting it! It was recorded on the cheap in a tiny studio, but was fun.
  • Tipping Point – yet to be broadcast, I made a right mess of this one and won nothing!

After completing about 30 application forms and attending 15 or so auditions, you do start to get a feel for what the production team are looking for!

Here are my top tips on getting on a TV game show:

1. Look for contestant calls

I’ve got a blog post with current contestant calls – and the best UK websites to bookmark are www.beonscreen.com, www.bbc.co.uk, www.itv.co.uk, www.starnow.co.uk, Applause Store and ukgameshows.com. If you’re on Twitter, follow @officialcastme – and check Contestant Collective on Facebook. If you spot a good show advertised, send an email (you usually get an immediate automated response with an attached entry form) or complete an online application. My tip is to go for the new shows – they get far fewer applications as people aren’t actively looking to apply. You might see requests for people to film a one-off ‘pilot’ – this may or may not involve a cash prize.

2. Find a partner

Lots of shows need pairs – Million Pound Drop, Pointless and many of the BBC Lottery shows. Ask your family and friends if any of them would be interested – or post a message on Facebook like I did! After responding to my Facebook request, my friend Sammy and I met for the first time at an audition for Timeline – although we were shortlisted, we didn’t get to film the show (we weren’t very flexible with our filming dates!). We’ll definitely be applying for more shows together, although having both recorded shows recently we won’t be able to be on TV again for a few months. If possible, pair up with someone who has different strengths to you so you can cover all topics. Choose carefully – I go to a lot of auditions where you can immediately tell the ‘partner’ doesn’t want to be there, and they never make it onto the show!

3. Take time on your application form

On the application form, you may need to answer questions about what you would do with the money, the biggest risk you’ve taken, funny stories and hobbies. Make yourself sound as interesting as you can! Often the production company will want to know fun facts and stories about you – this is what makes your application stand out, so try and write something memorable. If you’re a comper, don’t go into too much detail about the prizes you’ve won – most people won’t want to see successful compers winning yet more prizes on TV. In the past, production teams have been interested in my unusual wins like a butler for Glastonbury, or my Dad’s weight in chocolate – so focus on the quirky and fun prizes. Try not to attach a passport photo, but find one where you’re smiling naturally. For our Supermarket Sweep form, my friend Kathy and I actually had a photo taken in Tesco with a trolley! If it’s a new show, google the name to find out more about it – praising the format should get you Brownie points. Finally, save a copy of your form – you’ll be able to copy and paste your answers onto future forms as the themes are usually the same.

4. Be enthusiastic during the phone interview

Be prepared to get a phone call almost as soon as you’ve sent off your application – sometimes the team will already be in the middle of auditions and will want to find out quickly if you’re suitable. When they call, be enthusiastic and chatty (you may want to leave the room if you’re somewhere public!). Remember to tell them why you want to appear on the show (hopefully you’ve researched the format online!). They will usually ask you a few general knowledge questions. YOU DON’T NEED TO GET THESE RIGHT – in most cases, it’s better if you DON’T get them all right. Know-It-All brainboxes on quiz shows are boring, unless you’re an Egghead or on the Chase. That’s why Who Wants to Be A Millionaire eventually started auditioning and featuring celebrities when the standard line up of middle-aged male quiz addicts got dull. At the end of the phone call if you’ve impressed them they will invite you to audition – it can be very short notice.

5. Relax at the audition

If you get an invite to audition (and well done on getting this far!) it will usually be at a hotel in your nearest large city and last a couple of hours – you won’t get travel expenses. Some auditions have hundreds of people, and some just a handful. My advice for the audition would be to make yourself look presentable, and if possible wear something to make you memorable (an extreme example of this is the drag queen I sat next to for 1 vs 100 – unsurprisingly s/he was chosen to be a contestant!). Think carefully in advance about what to say about yourself – you need to stand out, but you also need the viewers to be able to relate to you – try and have a laugh! Get there early and chat to fellow contestants – it will help you relax and you might even get tips from some of the pros who’ve been on lots of shows. Usually you will do a run through of the show, a written quiz and interviewed privately on camera. Again, it’s not a great idea to answer all the questions correctly even if you do know them – if it’s a multiple choice question, it’s important to talk through the elimination of incorrect answers before giving your answer (even if you know it straight away!).

6. Be flexible

After the audition, double check the filming dates with family and friends. If you get the call to say you’ve made the shortlist, offer as many possible filming dates as you can. For some shows they don’t know how long the filming will take, so you may need to keep 2 or 3 days free. You may be asked to be a ‘standby’ contestant and if you can get time off work this is well worth doing – most standbys will eventually get to be on the show and will have the advantage of knowing the show and set inside-out.

7. Be prepared

A few days after shortlisting, lucky contestants will get a call with their recording date, and accommodation and travel details will follow soon afterwards (these expenses will be covered). You’ll be briefed on what to bring – in most cases, you’ll need 3 or 4 changes of outfit to ensure you don’t clash with the set or the other contestants. My ‘don’t’ list for Ejector Seat included spots, stripes, patterns, black, white, blue, skirts or heels….. (luckily I had a prize voucher to spend at Gap and bought a set of plain pink, green and orange tops!). If you don’t bring anything suitable you’ll have to wear something from the production wardrobe – when I recorded ‘Are You Smarter…’ my fellow contestant wasn’t impressed when he had to wear a bright pink polo shirt!

8. Swot up

If you have the time, you may want to swot up – either on general knowledge or puzzle formats. Google to see if you can find any similar quiz styles online, go to pub quizzes – and download the free QuizUp app to your smartphone which pits you against worldwide challengers in hundreds of topics.

9. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame

On the big day, try and relax. You’ll spend a lot of time in The Green Room with the other contestants – chat as much as possible so you’re comfortable with them and can have a laugh during the breaks in filming. Remember it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can tell stories about for years to come, so savour every moment. If you fluff an answer it’s embarrassing, but it makes you human. If you’re talking to the presenter, use their name. Tell short, funny stories and don’t waffle nervously – try and be natural, as if you’re amongst friends. It gets easier with every show – honestly!

10. Don’t be a sore loser

Winning isn’t the be all and end all. Each gameshow gives you valuable television experience and a better chance of getting on another one – and eventually, you WILL win! Your cheque should arrive within a month or two – and it’s tax-free.

Hopefully this should give you a few pointers if you’re ready to brave the world of TV – good luck, and let me know how you get on!

Enjoyed this post? Read my interviews with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire winners Jason Block & Opeyemi Adediran

Also see my post of UK Contestant Calls for details of current shows you can apply to!

Author: Di

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  • Stevie

    I think would of liked to have a go on Fifteen to One.The original one with William G Stewart.

  • Brilliant tips Di – it’s no wonder you’re such a success and it’s only a question of time before you’re a superstar! X

  • sandra henderson

    Fab tips!I was also picked to “come on down” we went on a trip from work and i came home with a digital radio,£1000 and a motorbike.I just missed out on the showcase though by about £100!It was great fun and the start of my wins.

  • Excellent! Did you apply for anything else after that? The lady on the show I was on won the caravan – hilarious!

  • Great show – although I’m not clever enough for it, too much pressure!

  • Ha! Thanks Anya!

  • nicola stott

    Great write up! My neighbour has been on most quiz shows and has just been on a pilot in London. Keeps offering to help me apply but it scares me! I want someone to ask me to go with them so I’m not the one responsible HA! He’s done really well with the wins also

  • Elizabeth Gurney

    I’ve never even considered going on a game show before (although I’m pretty good at quizzes!) But reading this post was very inspiring and useful. The tips are fantastic and it made me think ‘hmm maybe….’ 🙂 Thanks for the confidence boost to just go for it x

  • Oh you must give it a go – what have you got to lose? Let me know how you get on!

  • Sue Dyke

    Thought you were great Di.I’ve been on The Weakest Link,Perfect Recall,Tipping Point & The Chase.Was lucky enough to win £25,000 on The Chase,

  • Natalie cooper

    All these tips have given me the push I needed to apply for a game show. Thanks Di.

  • James Kearney

    I’ve got an audition for Tipping point tomorrow and this has come very handy. Thanx Diana 😉

  • Thanks for the tips will give it a go

  • Angela Perry Dean

    hmmmm I am now going to apply!!!! I really hope I get picked………..

  • Carroll Marsh

    Thanks for all this valuable advise Di!!Fingers crossed now X

  • Keshihead

    Those of you who are on the fence about applying for a show, GO FOR IT! So far, I’ve been on Memory Bank and won £700, I was on Breakaway in 2012 and came ONE QUESTION off winning £7k, and most recently I did Countdown last year but was beaten 104-37, ouch! I recently did an audition for a show called The Hive for BBC4 and got shortlisted, but since there were only 24 players (8 teams of 3) I didn’t make it to the actual show, BUT I impressed the guy holding the auditions, so if they get another series, he might ask me to be on it!

  • Thanks for commenting Keshihead – it sounds like you’ve been on some good shows!

  • Katie Perkins

    Hi i’ve just been asked for an audition next week, it’s more of a physical game show like total wipepout, they want a party trick and to wear something memorable, do you have any suggestions ? Katie

  • Ha ha! I like the sound of this. Party trick sounds like they want something physical – I’ve never been asked myself but I can make an origami crane in a minute, maybe something quirky like that would do? As for memorable – have you got a fancy dress hire place locally? Or a comedy t-shirt? Full football strip with socks? Good luck!

  • Debbie Panda Jones

    How did you get on James? I’ve got an audition on Tuesday

  • Debbie Peacock

    Hi Di! About 15 years ago I did Wheel of Fortune and Wipeout and then didn’t apply for anything until last year, and now I have applied for DOND, The Chase, Benchmark, The Edge, I have been lucky enough to get an audition for every one!…. Got to silver stage of DOND, shortlisted for The Chase, Benchmark and The Edge, I was called today from the Edge and they wanted to check my availability for next Wednesday, discussed transport and everything and I was all but on but the lady needed to confirm it, sadly when she rang back she hadn’t been able to work it for me and I ‘clashed’ with another contestant re area we’re from or something. I’m surprised how gutted I felt to be honest, do you think I should give up or have you any advice?
    Thanks, Debbie.

  • It sounds like you’ve done amazingly well Debbie – I would DEFINITELY continue to apply. I’m sure the production team behind the Edge will definitely want you for another show in future!

  • Debbie Peacock

    Thanks Di, that makes me feel better about yesterday-I wasn’t sure whether production teams would hang on to people’s details for future reference, I’m glad you think so! I shan’t give up just yet then!!
    Thanks x

  • Loraine Morgan-Brinkhurst MBE

    Great advice Di,
    I got into TV game shows in the late 1980’s when I was a young mum at home, there was an early morning show called Key Notes and filmed in Bristol not far from my home in Bath. I thought it looked fun and I had some music knowledge as I had sung in my fathers dance band in the 70’s. Not knowing what to do as there was no internet then I wrote to the Bristol Studios and received an application form, got an audition and got on! I met a Bristol guy called Robin there and we became friends, we went on to do Strike it Lucky together.
    Robin and I must have been on a list somewhere as out of the blue I received a call from a production company asking if we would take part in a new game show, we agreed and it turned out to be Super Market Sweep. I got the bug, won some lovely prizes and enjoyed a couple of days away each time (it felt like a holiday for me as I had 6 small children!) my next show was Big Break.

    I then had a career so I could not take part in shows until 14 years later in 2006 I was picked with my children to do Millionaire Manor as part of the lottery show, I had entered us and had not told my grown up children!! but the day after applying I got a call from the production company, they liked the sound of my family and wanted to ring everyone, I had to quickly telephone my kids, who phew! were pleased to enter and we were selected after our audition with Endemol. So to everyone out there GO FOR IT, Di is right it is great fun, you stay in wonderful hotels, have your make up expertly done and remember without you they DON’T have a show. GOOD LUCK, Loraine from Bath.

  • Andy

    Hi Di, I just found your post and thought I’d comment as I got a call from The Chase today for an audition next week. So tomorrow morning I’ll be booking a day off work. Any other advice for a tv comp newbie?

  • Good luck Andy! Most of the tips I have are summarised in this post – just try to relax and enjoy yourself. Listen to the others doing their intros (if you can) and make sure yours is more interesting! And don’t answer questions too quickly! Let me know how you get on!

  • chester

    Hey, I was in the same boat. I’ve only ever gotten an audition for 1 gameshow and it was a chase. Word of warning, don’t use a sob story for what you’d use the money for. Everyone who did didnt get on, my thoughts were that it is so unlikely you’ll win on the chase that they don’t want to seem evil for not letting you win. I said I wanted to get engaged and I got through.

    Also make sure you chat with other contestants, make jokes, and don’t feel nervous about joking with the people doing the audition. It’s exactly what they’re looking for, if you can make them laugh a couple of times then you’re much more likely to get through.

    Lastly, they do quizzes whilst there. Don’t panic about getting them right. One guy who was really smart got through for us, then me (who did bad on the quiz but really well on the multiple choice), and then someone who scored mid-low on everything but the team minute round. If you do bad or good you could get on, they’d just put you with different other people to make the show fun to watch. It’s all about whether they think the audience will like you

  • Great advice, thanks Chester!

  • Rob Harriman

    Hi, i love game shows also, tried Deal 10 years ago no joy even though i was told i did well, at the moment i am shortlisted for the Chase, and in 2012 was delighted to play In It to win it, had 2 days in Manchester met the lovely Dale Winton and won a life changing 25k yippppeeee, on youtube 26th Jan 2013 because when you record it delay on the date it goes out.

    Be relaxed at Audition it really is the best way, good luck Rob Milton Keynes

  • Wow, well done on IITWI Rob! I’ve auditioned several times but not got shortlisted. Hope you get on The Chase!

  • Rob Harriman

    Hi

    Thanks it was unreal, good luck to you also, in 2012 i was ITV Pride Britain Finalist it was all happening, this can be seen online, keep up the good tips helping people to get on shows.

    Regards

    Rob

  • Debjyoti Ghosh

    Till now I have entered in like 50 or more giveaways. I enter through reddit website. Till now not once did I win a single thing, not even the useless of them. I complete all the tasks on time. Am I so wretched that it will never happen for me. Can you please suggest what would get me some chance at least

  • Joolsie

    Hi how do you get on to Tipping point? It doesn’t seem to be as advertised as other shows

  • Joolsie

    I’ve been looking for application form for tipping point – where did you find one?

  • Joolsie

    Hi Di I’ve read your information with excitement and have the urge to apply to be on a game show now! In fact I can’t wait!
    The one id love to be on is Tipping Point – I think Ben Sheppard is a brilliant compere and his enthusiasm is contagious…..
    Only problem I have is that I can’t actually find an up to date application form – I can find 2012 or 2014 but nothing for now. Have you any pointers?
    Thank you so much for any help and will let you know how I get on!

  • They finished filming series 6 in December according to their Twitter feed, so it will be a while before the applications open up again! Keep checking http://www.beonscreen.com/uk/tv-shows/game-quiz or sign up for BeOnScreen emails to find out!

  • Steven

    Hi I missed my audition for a show….I was on the way and got stuck in traffic just outside leeds…I rung the producers and they said email them and should get put on Nottingham auditions…..so far not heard anything back….has this happened to anyone else? Did you get to a audition? Please help…

  • Js

    How long does it usually take for them to contact you once you’ve sent your application in?

  • I’ve sometimes been called on the same day I emailed my application form – it depends on how soon your local auditions are! Check the closing date for applications and see how soon it is – if it’s still a couple of months of there may not be auditions so soon.

  • Luke Taylor

    Hi there. Great article! Just wondering, do game show producers look at the social media accounts of those applying? I’m very anti-EU and obviously the BBC and other mainstream channels are funded by the EU so they probably wouldn’t approve of my views. Would they reject me purely because of my social media posts? Thanks

  • Interesting question! I was cast in a new gameshow recently, then the producer googled me, found this exact blog post and promptly dumped me from the show – so they must be having a look. The same as a prospective employer, perhaps! It gives them an alternative (more natural?) view of your personality. In my case – if I’m on TV with my unusual name, viewers might search for it and be annoyed to see a competition winner winning more cash. Makes sense really!

  • Laurie Beattie

    Thanks for this Di! I have just decided to branch out and try to get on a game show – inspired by you telling us you were off to film one! I love watching them and playing along at home, so hopefully I will be lucky enough to get chosen!! (p.s I know what you mean about the Diane thing, I get called Laura ALL the time)

  • BSR

    Hi, about four years ago I got to the final audition of one of the quiz shows (I won’t mention which in case the production team keep an eye on your blog….). Although most of my fellow “auditionees” (is there such a word?) thought I was certain to be picked I did not get through. I did not get any feedback from the production team and others I have talked to since thought it may have been because I have a good job and live in a relatively affluent area. The thing I did notice was that all others at the audition had a sob story for the question “what would you do if you won?”. I was first to speak and be questioned so my answer that “I would like to take my family to Malaysia to visit where my wife was brought up” (her dad was part of the British embassy there) was trumped by answers such as “my parent could never afford a car so I want to buy them one to say thank you for bringing me up so well” or “I would like to give back to the charity which helped me…”.

    I also noticed that admitting I work in the City of London was not a fantastic thing given I was surrounded by a charity worker, fireman, care assistant amongst others.

    But if the above did influence things why ask me to the audition in the first place? I won 5 of the 6 rounds of general knowledge quizzes we did during the audition.

    I have just reapplied for the same show just for the hell of it but I guess the chances of getting on are nil (I assume that a simple data base check by the producers will kill any chance) but I also have asked for a chance on any other show.

    Is it best to hide good things and make up some sob story to get the sympathy vote? Do the production teams on other shows give feedback? I have lost 7 stone in weight since my previous audition, perhaps the need to use a wide-angle camera lens cannot be held against me any longer…..

  • To be honest, I don’t think sob stories help in ANY form of competition – researchers, marketeers, social media managers and the like are looking for uplifting, positive stories to share in most cases! I always thought because my hobby is winning competitions, I would never be picked for a TV gameshow – but that’s not the case. They need to show a diversity of contestants too – people from all walks of life. As your bad experience was four years ago I would try to forget all about it and start afresh – and if all else fails, you do actually have a great story of your own to share – you’ve lost 7 stone in 4 years! That’s a great achievement – and I bet you could joke about it too! Good luck!

  • BSR

    Hi, thanks for your feedback, much appreciated. Well…. I got a call and I’m invited to an audition next week! (your luck has rubbed off on me).

    I won’t mention which show just in case it scuppers my chances but it is based on general knowledge. Do you have any tips for (a) handling nerves and (b) cramming in knowledge into a moderately sized brain? I have four days to learn the entire Encyclopedia Britannica which I might suggest is rather improbable. The problem I have is not that I lack some knowledge but that it seems to run and hide in the inaccessible recesses of my brain when I am under pressure! It is so easy when at home watching TV but when it really matters Mr Memory takes a holiday (can be embarrassing when people rely on my at a quiz night).

    Thank you in advance for any further tips you can give.

  • Di

    Yes! Do you have a smartphone? Download a quiz app that has a timer, so you’re pressured to answer quickly. That way you can learn stuff and also get used to a timer!