What it’s like on Winning Combination

The second series of Winning Combination has just started this week on ITV, and you might have noticed me popping up on episode 3 – although my appearance was rather short-lived, as I was the first contestant to be eliminated! This was the eighth game show I’ve recorded, and although I’ve only actually won anything on three of the shows I really love the whole experience. Mind you, I think I need a bit of practice with my buzzer skills… I’m putting these quiz buzzers* on my Christmas list!

Winning Combination is a super easy show to get on, because they need nine contestants for every show. However, with so many contestants this also means that the chance of you winning cash is quite small. Only four contestants progress to the final round, and it can be tricky for the team to work together to win the cash jackpot – there are usually a lot of questions to answer correctly in a limited time, so it’s a lot of pressure. I’m not sure how many times the jackpot has been won on the show.

For series two of Winning Combination, we were told that 30 episodes were being recorded – so they needed 270 contestants in total, plus 10 standby contestants just in case someone dropped out at the last minute. Compared to other TV quiz shows, this is a huge number of contestants so there was a good chance of getting picked to appear. 

Winning Combination

My timeline for Winning Combination

If at first you don’t succeed, try again! I failed to get onto the first series but was successful with the second application.

  • 21 April 2020 – submitted an application form online
  • 5 May 2020 – phone interview and quiz
  • 12 May 2020 – Zoom group audition in two parts – I wasn’t asked to continue after part one!I heard nothing more, and wasn’t invited onto the first series, so I applied again in 2021…
  • 16 March 2021 – submitted an application form online
  • 28 April 2021 – phone interview and quiz
  • 4 May 2021 – Zoom 1-to-1 audition 
  • 24 May 2021 – Received phone call to confirm I had been chosen to appear, and given my show broadcast date
  • 14 June 2021 – Recorded the show in Manchester
  • 29 September 2021 – Winning Combination broadcast on TV

This was a much faster turnaround that for Tipping Point, where it took 17 months from my application to the show being broadcast.

Preparation for Winning Combination

The production crew record three shows per day, and as the first set of contestants we had to be on site at the Manchester Studios at 7.45am. Travel expenses were paid, and we were put up in the Manchester West Premier Inn the night before and given £15 towards our evening meal. I chatted to a couple of guys in the hotel bar and was delighted when one of them told me he’d bought my SuperLucky Secrets book and followed my advice on game show applications and auditions (this was Iain the gold-shirted Librarian, who was on the same show as me!)

As we were all staying at the same place, six of us walked together to the studio in the morning. We were met by one of the Winning Combination team and taken to a room where we all sat on (socially distanced!) chairs and were given a breakfast bag with a muffin, banana and satsuma. We could help ourselves to tea and coffee. Our phones, electronics and smart watches were taken off us and stored safely away.

The most important job of the morning was next – the balls were drawn out of a bag to decide which number each contestant was assigned! A higher number means more questions to answer in the final round, but also more money in the prize pot. Most people wanted mid-range numbers, and I was happy with my number 5 ball. 

Contestants were asked to take along three outfits (tops) – with no plain white, plain blue or plain black – and no small patterns. We also had to wear flat or low heeled shoes – with no visible logos.The wardrobe team took our outfits away and ironed the ones they wanted us to wear. I’ve never been able to wear my first choice outfit on a TV gameshow!

Due to Covid we couldn’t have hair and make up done, but the stylists did offer advice, and check we were happy. The team ran through our biographies, hobbies, jobs and told us what the host Omid Djalili might want to chat to us about. Omid talks to every contestant on the show so it’s definitely a good idea to get a recap of what he might ask, so he doesn’t drop you in it with a surprise story!

We were briefed on the show format, and given a quick run through of some quiz questions. We were the very first contestants shooting for series 2, and the guinea pigs for the new format of the opening round. If I’m honest I wasn’t too happy with the change to the format, as it relied too much on being the fastest on the buzzer!

Recording Winning Combination

Soon it was time to film! We were walked across to the studio building and into the new studio, and stood behind our individual numbered podiums. We each had a plastic bag (for our face mask and any make up bits) and a bottle of water, which were tucked into the back of the podium.

Omid introduced himself, and we all did a short intro to camera: ‘I’m Di, a Competition Blogger from Brighton!’. Omid then walked along and chatted to each of us – this was a great warm up for the proper recording, so we knew in advance what he wanted to chat about! He asked us each about a couple of topics – mine were blogging and K-Pop. My fellow contestant Jonathon revealed he could say the alphabet backwards in less than 3 seconds – we knew he’d be asked to do that later on, although it wasn’t broadcast!

Before long it was time to get started – by this time we felt like we knew each other quite well and had laughed a lot off camera, so it really wasn’t too nerve wracking. In terms of the actual quizzing, I didn’t do well at all – I buzzed in twice with incorrect answers before I finally got a spot in the third battle round. I managed to answer two more questions (correctly!) but that wasn’t enough to get me through to the winning combination and I was back on contestants row. Alas! I was too slow on the buzzer and couldn’t get into the final battle round, so I was first contestant out – what a flop! But I did have a really fun time and a great laugh with Omid and the production crew and I loved my night out in Manchester.

How to apply for Winning Combination

If you get the opportunity to apply for Winning Combination I really recommend it – it’s a great introduction to quiz shows for beginners and the team will make you feel relaxed and calm. 

Applications for Winning Combination are currently closed, but keep an eye on my Contestant Calls for UK gameshows post, which I update regularly.

You might also enjoy reading my top tips: How to get on a TV game show! 

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