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And now for something completely different ... Like appearing on ITV's The Chase

Jessica was a contestant on this evening's episode of ITV's The Chase. How did she get on?

In 1960, at the young age of 15, my dad appeared on the TV quiz show ‘Double Your Money’! He did pretty well on it, winning £32, which equates to about £700 today. Little could he have imagined that, 57 years later, his daughter would also appear on a TV quiz show and do pretty well, winning …. Ha ha ha. I’m lying about the doing well and the winning money part, but I’m not telling a porky about appearing on TV because, tonight, I appeared as one of the contestants on ITV’s The Chase!

It’s a show I love. I often watch it while having my tea and like thousands of viewers around the country, I have a go at the questions and shout at the contestants who take a low minus offer so it was an absolute privilege to pass the audition and get invited to Ellstree Studios late last year to film my episode.

If you’ve never watched the show, rather than me explain the format here, you can find a great explanation on Wiki

Why did I want to appear on TV? Actually, that wasn’t really it; it was more that I fancied experiencing something completely different. I wanted to do something that would surprise people and put me out of my comfort zone so I applied. And I’m so glad I did because I loved every minute of it. We’re asked not to talk about what goes on behind the scenes and I absolutely respect that request so I’m not going to spill the beans. All I’ll say is that everyone involved in the process from those I met at the auditions to the runners on the day to Bradley and my Chaser, Shaun ‘The Dark Destroyer’ Wallace couldn’t have done more to make us all feel welcome and take home some amazing memories … even if we didn’t take home any cash!

To be honest, I didn’t expect to win anything. I know my general knowledge is lacking in many subject areas and, as soon as two of my fellow contestants were caught, I knew that two of us didn’t stand a chance in the final chase. We only got 10 steps which I found absolutely hilarious. How embarrassing!

I had so many lovely supportive messages from friends and family on Facebook as the show aired. I kept up with the conversation on Twitter too and that was exactly the opposite. We had been warned by the production team that things could get vicious and I probably shouldn’t have looked but #thechase was pulling me like a magnet and I couldn’t help myself. I expected some comments about weight but I didn’t expect Tweets like “Julie’s [my real name] a bit odd” and “Julie looks like a Tranny”. How incredibly rude and personal! There was loads of abuse about the team as a whole, about how “thick” we were and other even worse derogatory comments. Or to have a go at my hobbies as a Brown Owl or arctophile. Eek!

I probably wasn’t prepared for the abuse I’d get for taking the low offer either. The remaining contestant, Terry, and I had talked about it in the break and had agreed that it would be better for me to take the low offer if it was a positive one and get back rather than risk being caught and leaving him on his own. I was offered £1k as the low offer and I took it. Wow! What a backlash! “Cow” was one of the nicest comments. For me, it was a glimpse at the dark side of social media where people hide behind their keyboards, hurling abuse at strangers, not thinking about or perhaps not even caring that these are real people. Yes, some might take the line that: you appeared on TV so you asked for it. Er, no! We appeared on TV but we did not ask for faceless bullies to hurl abuse at us from the comfort of their armchairs where it’s easy to shout out the answer knowing that you’d never have the guts to apply yourself. As it happens, I could take it … ish. To the person who called me a Tranny, I Tweeted back: Thanks, it’s my best look :-) … although I admit my fingers were shaking so much that it took me several attempts to actually type in the words. And to the person who said I was odd, I Tweeted: And so are you :-) And he apologized and wished me luck. Bless him. My sister in law, Clare, had some fabulous hit-backs to those who gave abuse with some hilarious hashtags of ‪#whereareyou#didyouapply ‪#andyouareontheshowwhen‪? Love it! Thanks, Clare xx The Tweets I've inlcuded here are the tamer ones!

If I could do it all again, I’d have stuck to the £4k I earned rather than the £1k low offer. As soon as I’d gone for it, I regretted it, but my goal had been to experience the final chase and that’s what I did. It genuinely was a fabulous experience. To all those who are armchair quizzers, claiming you could do better, stop shouting at the TV and fill out the application form. It doesn’t matter whether you answer all the questions, or even whether you bring home any money. What happens is that you did something completely new, exciting, scary, and different. I’ll never regret doing that. Ever.

Have an amazing weekend … and I challenge you to do something completely different :-)

Jessica xx

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