Friday, July 3, 2015

TV 3's Pressure Point & Room Full of Empty Clappers

I have written in the past on the history of Irish TV quiz shows and last year I had a look at it from the inside. I spotted an invitation to be part of a new TV game show produced by TV3. Following a written application I was invited for a casting session in the Mont Claire hotel near Merrion Square. In the bar we were asked to fill in an application form and handed hand written name badges.

We were told that they were trying to weed out those who genuinely had a good general knowledge and those who just wanted their fifteen minutes of fame on TV. The prize ladder was to be €50 up to a maximum of €200, so it wasn't exactly going to be either Who Wants to be A Millionaire or the Weakest Link. In small groups we were taken down to another room where the casting director Gordon explained the rules and mission of 'Pressure Point'. We stood in a semi circle and one of the producers acted as the host. With bits of paper on the floor representing our 'Lives' we acted out the game. After fifteen minutes we were thanked and left.

On February 3rd, I received an email to confirm I had got through the auditions to the actual recording of the show.

"Hello again and congratulations on making it to the final stage of TV3s new quiz show Crossfire (previously Pressure Point)
We are delighted to have you as one of our contestants in the general knowledge quiz where you will have to push your fellow players out of the game with correct answers!
We would be delighted if you could join us in our HD studios in Ballymount in Dublin on Thursday - February 27th at 9am.
Please arrive on time as on the day we will have a lot of stuff to go through with you before you get to play the game. We will brief you on the rules of the game, get you familiarised with our amazing new set, we will have you fed and watered all before hair and make-up and then it’s time for you to play Crossfire!
It will be a great day out and we are really excited to have you as part of the show.

I arrived at Ballymount and parked up the car. I was greeted at the door and taken to the green room where chatted nervously with other contestants. We were offered light refreshments and the guys and gals tried to put us at ease. There was another semi run through of the game and then one by one we were called out to make up. 

With their new Sony HD studios being used, make up was applied thick and fast with a spray gun to take the shine off my baldy head. Another short wait in the green room and the four contestants for the show I was to appear on was taken to the studio. A large room was a brightly illuminated stage area. To the left was one of the dolly cams and over to the very right was the floor manager's area. 

There was a slight delay due to electrical technical difficulties that seemed to agitate many of those on the stage floor. Sean Moncrieff, the show host arrived 'on set' but had no interactions with any of us until we were all in place on the stage. The entire series of twenty episodes were being recorded over a small number of days.

We were eventually taken to our podium places while cameras and lighting moved into place. Needless to say I didn't win and realised that it seemed to depend more on your podium position rather than your depth of general knowledge. 

'The 20-part, half-hour show features four competitors attempting to force each other out of  the game during three rounds of general knowledge questioning, with the ultimate aim of winning €2,000. (More than the €200 we were originally told of.) The aim of the game is answer correct questions to take out opponents. Each player has ten lives on their podium, answer correctly and a point goes into the centre pot. You can collect up correct answers to hit an opponent with, and steal questions they get wrong.'

The series started on TV 3 on Friday nights beginning on March 28th 2014. The episode I appeared on aired on TV 3 on June 6th and was repeated later on their sister channel 3e. One of the most unusual aspects of viewing the show was the generous applause by the audience as we answered questions or reached the next round but alas the studio had no audience and like M*A*S*H added a laugh track, Crossfire added a clapping track for added effect.

I did force a re-ask of a question from the host as I jumped the gun with the answer before our esteemed host had earned his fee and given me the choices. Then before the show begun we were all asked to look with interest in each of our fellow contestants probably to be cut in at the edit stage. It was all very formulaic.

To be honest it was a great experience especially the effort I put to 'please do not swear on camera as we are on a tight schedule.' 

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