Standing outside Television Centre yesterday, Kane and I didn’t quite know what the new show Epic Win! was going to be like. We got an idea of the oddity involved when a BBC Worker approached us and asked if we’d like to eat crisps and breathe on a man’s face as part of the show* (his “talent” was to be able to tell the flavour of crisps consumed by smelling the person’s breath).
Surprisingly, we were seated at the very front of the studio, with no seats between us and the panel. This surprised me because up until now I had the feeling that they were reserved for the beautiful people, but apparently it’s a matter of getting there first. I should warn you that this does make you an excellent target for the warm-up comedian, as he came over and picked on me. This was because he was saying that if we were to be on television, you have to look happy to be there (which is fair enough). I was then informed that he’d seen “better smiles on roadkill”.
He then introduced the host, Alexander Armstrong, who then proceeded to make jokes about how half of the crowd had to be turned away from the previous day’s recording, including one chap who made death threats. It was at this point that he turned to me, shook my hand and said “we’re very glad that we got you back today, please tell us if you want anything”. I can say I wasn’t expecting that, but hell, I got a handshake out of Alexander Armstrong so I’m not complaining.
Around about this point, they introduced the premise of Epic Win, which is essentially: nutjobs come in and perform extraordinarily niche feats (one of the contestants who we’ll be discussing later had to guess ten Take That songs from one-second snippets of them), at which point a panel of judges has to choose how much they would award in money for the feat. Each panel member can award up to £1000, so the total award could be anywhere from £3-£3000. Sounds simple, right? Well, in addition to that, several different cash sums flash up on the screen, one after the other, and the contestant has to judge carefully when they’re coming up to the amount that the judges give them. If they overestimate themselves, they go home with nothing (allegedly).
Jesus, that gave me a headache. That’s the problem with game shows – sometimes they can be too complicated. The simpler the better is the way to go if any of you ever want to make one.
I’ll use this space to give you a brief run-down of each contestant and what I thought of them (spoilers for when this airs, by the way):
First Chap: This man’s talent was blowing up hot water bottles by blowing into them. And holy shit, it was impressive. He blew up 3 in about 40 seconds while on an exercise bike.
Second Bloke: A chap who runs a lawnmower museum had to guess which lawnmowers (out of a choice of 20) cut five strips of grass. He did it in a pre-recorded video. We also got to see Vanessa Feltz’s incredibly phallic seed-dipper.
Third Lady: She was the crazy Take That fan who had to guess ten Take That songs by listening to one-second long snippets of them. She did better than I was expecting at this but still went home for guessing seven correctly (she had to get a minimum of eight). However, that was not the most memorable thing about her. That was the moment that she proved the door was far too short to walk through. She showed us this by using her forehead to make contact with the top of the door in a painful manner. Although we were worried for her safety (Armstrong looked as worried as if he’d killed her himself), she was apparently fine afterwards. This did lead to a surreal moment when they had to do pick-up shots with someone who was no longer there. When it airs, you will note that they didn’t actually get footage of her going through the door. No doubt they will show her walking towards it and then cut away.
The Last Chap: In my view, this guy was the most impressive. According to his intro, he once walked for 36 miles without dropping a football, and he demonstrated his keepy-uppy skills by getting dressed while controlling a ball.
After this came the last few shots, one of which had to be done about three times for whatever reason. Then, about three and a half hours after we got in (to put this in perspective, the show will probably be a half hour one), we finally got to go home.
All in all, it was a rather strange evening, and anyone who has been to one of these things will know that it will get you questioning if anything in television is truly spontaneous. For some of the contestants, I found out that they won or lost before they did by looking at the autocue. I did have fun though, even though some of the dialogue (specifically, the puns) was rather evil. I look forward to seeing it, and hopefully myself, on television.
Edited to add: The airdate for the first episode of Epic Win is the 20th of August.
*This bit was unfortunately cancelled, but hopefully we’ll hear back soon about getting tickets for next week so Kane can breathe on a guy’s face then. I decided not to do it as I’m not sure if they can capture my good side on camera.