!exp-rory-miller.htm - last updated 17/01/09>
Rory Miller appeared on Countdown on 25th July 2007. Coming from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, he was chosen as a standby contestant, and was summoned to the studio during the octochamp run of David Edwards. Following David's final game, Rory was pressed into service against the colourful character of Mikey Lear. To the pleasure of some and the disdain of others, Rory (and to a lesser extent, Mikey) turned the show into something of a pantomime experience. Despite the ability that he clearly displayed in some rounds, he somewhat threw any chance of winning the game away and Mikey ran out the winner by 81 points to 53. Mikey then went on to prove this was no flash in the pan and recorded a further six wins and returned for the quarter-finals of the series. Unfortunately for Rory, his Countdown career was rather more short-lived. You can read about it from his point of view here in what is a bit different from the typical Countdown Experience on this website. Over to you, Mr Miller...
This article was originally written in 2007 for Rory's personal blog and was also published on the C4 Countdown Yahoo Group. My thanks to Rory for allowing it to be reproduced again here.
So I went on Countdown yesterday - got the call about 8.30 in the morning - and that was a mad old affair. I'm not sure what happened, really, but I lost all semblance of anyone who realised they were on a TV show; who was trying to win something; who cared about their own image; who had any respect for this fine British institution. Basically what happened was this...
I got there; that was all good. I'd practised a bit beforehand - and that was totally pants, but I was the same before Brainteaser and I walked away from there with three grand, and pretty much rocked out, save the occasional lapse. I met the other contestant, and he was this young dude with a totally fine arrangement of hair on his face, a neckerchief and braces, and a gaggle of excited young lady supporters in tow. We hit it off - the lovely Susie Dent asked if we were brothers - and fooled around a little bit. We took our seats and joked as the opening sequence rolled in that we'd just get 3-letter words the whole way through the show (but then realised we didn't really trust one another enough to go with that). He sat next to Des, and I sat next to Barry Norman in Dictionary Corner, and the game began; first round, I totally blanked, and all I could come up with was the rather pathetic "dork" (he had "adroit"; "radio" stared me right in the face) which perhaps set the scene quite nicely, like the first line in a novel, like a little taste of foreshadowing (well, that and Des's pun about me "not making an ass of myself", in reference to my winning a donkey in a bet) and then it was on from there.
A few normal rounds seemed to follow, and then the numbers came up - which I used to be extraordinarily good at - and my mind just refused to work. I didn't really get anywhere near and I suppose I just kind of thought, this isn't going to work, to hell with it, I couldn't give a monkey's. There was nothing in me that wanted to try, nothing in me that wanted to win - and that's really kinda strange for me. Maybe because there was no prize (besides the teapot, which Mikey really wanted), or maybe something else (I actually wanted Mikey to win; he was a jolly nice and funny chap and made great TV, and I wasn't at all bothered about trying to stay on), I'm not really sure. What I do know is that I never felt like I was really there, like I was taking part in a show that is going to be watched by about two million people; I just couldn't be bothered. I didn't concentrate when I had to pick letters or numbers; I asked for the rules to be explained to me half-way through rounds - I was picking letters once and when Carol had got about three out I said, "oh, I guess I should be writing these down." And even worse/better than that...
The pinnacle, I suppose, was when Mikey declared a 9-letter word and I only had a six and I thought, oh, to hell with this, I'll just tell them that I've got a three. And then when they asked for my three I made out as though I'd realised it wasn't actually a real word, just to be ultra-silly. But, alas, Mikey's word wasn't allowed and I'd just thrown away six stupid points! Oh well. Add that to the numbers' round where I got to within 1, with a 1 remaining, but didn't bother adding it, and the round where I had a six, then just as Des asked me what I'd got I thought I spied an extra letter to tag on and kind of sneakily added it (while hiding my sheet from Barry Norman) though it wasn't actually there and I chucked away a total of 22 points in silliness. I guess right from the beginning I'd been resigned to not winning - yet, with those points factored in, it would have actually gone right down to the wire - yes! a Crucial Countdown Conundrum! So blessed relief when Mikey buzzed in and got it and I was nowhere in sight. At least I didn't have the guilt of oh-I-could've-actually-won- that-if-I-hadn't-been-a-tit to contend with.
What else? How about the round where I was trying to pick letters and got the giggles real bad and could barely get the consonants and vowels out without totally breaking down? (And how about the beauty of it that I just managed to hold it together enough that it didn't require a re-take and will have to be aired like that!) How about the one where I thought I'd got all my letters but still needed another one, and then Carol said, "no, you need a vowel" and I said, "oh, O.K., consonant please"? (I think by this time she'd well and truly lost patience.) Or Barry Norman being really quite bitchy and making comments about Mikey and I being "the death of the show" (among other things) and me doing a Vic Reeves handbag "woooh" at him? What about when seven or eight letters came out and I saw the word "stoned" and I thought, I don't care what all else is there - seven, eight, nine - I'm having that, and then Des asking for my word and me looking him in the eye and saying, "I got stoned"? (Me! Anti-drug me! Me who hasn't been stoned in 8 years!) Mikey, meanwhile, was busy doing his bit, making blunders and telling Des, "I got cooties" (in an American accent, where the "t" is a "d") and going on about his dressing-up box and chatting up Susie and Carol. Oh, writing it here it all seems so marvellous and mad and wonderful, and I can't wait for it to go out - and I really hope they don't edit it too much - because I'm not sure there's ever been an episode like that and, who knows, we could have really started something here. Imagine, legions of hip young thangs entering and hijacking quiz shows and making a mockery of them, sailing through the auditions with their wit and knowledge and looks and then turning up there on the day bedraggled with heads like conkers and answers straight out of Spike Milligan. I mean, it sounds wonderful, doesn't it? I mean, what are we waiting for?
At the same time, though, ever since it finished, I've been racked with this kind of embarrassed guilt, like I don't want people to see it, like I wish I could do it over again. Like I wish I'd tried, or prepared, or hadn't been quite so silly - and even typing that, it seems a bit ridiculous to think that way - but I guess I must have an image thing going on, that I don't want to be thought of as too stupid (when, probably, I am!) or... or, whatever, I don't really know. Like I blew my big chance? Get real! There was no money involved and, like I say, I never really wanted to win from the beginning. Maybe I need some kind of carrot to kick it into gear - and I just didn't have one here. Being on was enough - and, if there's nothing to aim for, and no desire to win, what else are you going to do with your time? You might as well have a laugh, right? I mean, Countdown's been on TV literally thousands of times, with thousands of pretty much nameless, faceless - let's face it, bland - contestants, and what's the point in being another one of them? (Not that I planned any of this beforehand.) I mean, you've got that one chance and what you gonna do with it? Give it your best, toe the line, regret not doing what you felt like doing, and forget and be forgotten pretty much the instant that it's over? Or are you gonna do what's there in you to do, and try to create something different, and, above all - above every other **********ing thing - are you gonna have a laugh, enjoy yourself, mess about, and get some giggles? I mean, I guess I've pretty much answered my own question there - and, whaddya know, looks like I've thrown myself some rather amusing and ironic metaphors for life too, all sneakily inadvertent and creeping up on me there. Ha! I guess there's something in pretty much everything, eh?
So there you go. I didn't know it was gonna come out like that - but the telling of it makes me feel better, and makes it feel right. I can't say I don't have any cringing left in me but... what the hell, I'll feel it and let it be and there can be no doubt that this is one of those things that is only to be looked back and laughed at in years to come - so why not start now? I just hope my workforce of elderly lady pensioners aren't too dismayed by what they see come July 25th!Rory Miller