We were sorry to hear about the death of William G Stewart. My dad and I both appeared on the hit quiz show 15-1 that he created, produced and hosted in the 1990s.
Needless to say, my dad did much better than I did. I got my own name wrong and was out before the advert break (which from memory tended to be for adjustable beds and Otex eardrops), but dad got to the last three and got hilariously difficult questions while the other two had such doozies as having to name this:
Having played a game of 15-1 at the audition in Plymouth, I couldn’t believe that I was invited onto the show, until a friend helpfully suggested that “they must get through quite a lot of contestants, and they probably need some at the lower end of the spectrum”. Thanks.
We travelled up to Putney and stayed overnight with other quizzers in a nearby hotel before heading to the studio the next day. This was the 1990s, remember, so things were decidedly lo-tech, and I always wonder what it would be like to appear on the contemporary version with Sandi Toksvig.
The studio is tiny and the audience was a handful of contestants’ guests sitting on some school chairs. The set seemed to be held together by gaffer tap and was much smaller than it seems on TV. They applied A LOT of make up to my face, before inviting us to select your number from a hat (between 15 and 1, of course. I was 8, which meant that I appear behind the quizmaster a lot looking terrified) and they check the spelling of your name. I was so scared, I went blank and this took ages.
I then recall that the man at number 7 asked me if I’d like a Polo mint and as I’m unfailingly hilarious, I said; “Just the middle please”. He looked completely confused and then got both of his starter questions wrong. My fault; I’ve been carrying that one for 20 years.
The man himself then came out and made us all feel at home. He was extremely charming and efficient; firm but fair. During my dad’s programme, one contestant kicked up a fuss about getting his question wrong believing it to be ambiguous. Stewart told him to investigate and write back. “If we’re wrong, we’ll give £50 to the charity of your choice” he said.
He told me to relax my shoulders as “they are around your ears” and asked me my name. This was the first question I got wrong. “PLYMOUTH” I shouted.
The rest of the programme went by very quickly and I remember the horrible sensation of having to nominate people. The question that knocked me out was about “trompe l’oeil”. Twenty-year old me had never heard of it, but it’s a term I hear all the bloody time now. Thank God this was before the age of social media!
So William G has joined the great gameshow in the sky along with Bruce Forsyth and Bob Monkhouse. RIP and thanks for 15-1.