Behind the scenes at Countdown, part 4

My narrower-than-the-thinnest-snickelway win over Gary Kenwright took me to the lunch interval with three wins out of three.  This ought to have made me more relaxed.  However, the series quarter-finals were beginning once my next match had finished, so the lunch break brought all the champs and octochamps into the arena.  It was a rather daunting experience knowing that they'd all be watching.

After eating, I was sent in to make-up, and Debra the lovely make-up lady told me she did John Humphrys' make-up when he's presenting Mastermind, and that I should give the show a try.  I assured her that I knew everything about nothing and not too much about that, so Debra suggested getting audience tickets instead.  It's filmed in the new BBC Centre in Salford, apparently.

Back under lights, my final game of the series was against Tom Beaumont, who was still pretty nervous, but happy enough to chat about his love of football - particularly Chesterfield goalkeepers - and 70s rock music.

This proved to be apposite, as, in the first round, between us, Tom and I submitted SILVER PELVIS, who I'm sure supported Led Zep on one of their early tours.  From that, rather like an IPL match with Chris Gayle, it was sixes all the way, till I spotted BOSSIER, and it was 32-25 at the break.

In readiness for part two, I then took a new piece of paper from the stack provided, and found a curious, cryptic message:

I was puzzled for a moment, wondering who would try to give me such information.  Was it secret?  Was it even useful?  Would I be accused of cheating?  I'd already discussed the possibility of Countdown match-fixing with a fellow contestant, wondering if coughing a la Tecwen Whittock would work, or if you could plant nine of your friends on the front row of the audience, getting them to spell out words in a YMCA-dance fashion.  Had someone overheard me, and planted the message in order to entrap me?

And then I realized its source.  After we'd returned from lunch, before my match with Tom started, a special episode of Countdown was filmed for Sky Sports' Soccer AM, with Chris Kamara taking on Alistair McGowan in a mutant form of the show.  It looked like this:

Soccer AM - "Kammy Do It" on Countdown

The paper was evidently a leftover from that, so I have kept it, as I am sure it will become a valuable artefact, and I will eventually be able to sell it on a niche northern online auction site, E-Bay-gum.

Back in the game, it was still very tight till round 7, but then I think nerves got the better of Tom, and he began to struggle.  MONTAGE and ELATION got me into a 21-point lead, and although I then took a ridiculously complicated route to turning 75, 50, 3, 5, 6, and 10 into 151, I managed it.  I missed a geological eight - TACONITE - but another straightforward numbers round ensured it was 97-64 when the conundrum arrived.  I rather hoped I'd score my first century, but couldn't turn GIRLAMORE into RIGMAROLE, so had to make do with falling three short.

Despite this failure, Alistair McGowan still thought I'd done well enough for him to put on the voice of David Schwimmer/Ross from Friends and declare me the most famous palaeontologist, which was very kind, if wildly inaccurate.  And then Dudley Doolittle - the warm-up man - made a different comparison, as he claimed I bore a close resemblance to the man who sang Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats & Dogs.  To make a lucrative career as a tribute act, apparently all I needed was a flat cap.  And a glass eye.  And the ability to sing:

Brian and Michael on Top of the Pops

And then I had to spurn all the adulation and dash off, as I had to catch a train to London for a Palaeontological Association council meeting where I was continuing the role of newsletter reporter, which I'd taken over at Christmas from...

...Alistair McGowan!