I’ve a new respect for people who take part in televised events. Sitting on the sofa at home watching the box, it all looks so easy: participants chat happily, respond calmly to comments and answer questions.
But let me tell you – when you’re in the sights of a studio camera, complete with hot lights and an audience, it’s nerve-racking.
And the worst of it is deciding what to wear.
In the interests of book marketing and publicity (not, you understand, to push ourselves into the limelight), Sue and I decided it would be a good idea (good idea?) to appear on a television quiz show. We’d be guaranteed a massive audience, we’d be able to introduce ourselves and talk about our books and, if we won, the local media would want to follow up and publish our story.
So after I said to Sue, let’s apply to go on *** (sorry, we can’t tell you at the moment which programme it is or how well – or badly – we performed) she’d downloaded an application form.
Years earlier, I’d applied to appear on Deal Or No Deal and never heard back. So I wasn’t expecting an enthusiastic researcher to ring us within a fortnight of our application inviting us for an audition in Leeds.
We went and they must have liked us (even though they realised we were blatantly plugging our books) because a couple of weeks later we had a date to go to the TV studios in London to record a show.
And that’s where the problem started: the dress code.
What to wear?
Smart/casual, they said. We were to take FIVE outfits so the wardrobe people could choose which worked best to avoid strobing and clashing on set.
Each outfit had to be DIFFERENT COLOURS and STYLES, and BRIGHT and COLOURFUL. And we had to avoid stripes, spots, navy blues, solid reds and black.
Well, I don’t do BRIGHT and COLOURFUL – or DIFFERENT STYLES. My wardrobe is white tee shirt or black tee shirt and jeans. I sometimes push the boat out in a blue and white stripe, but that’s it.
Sue’s look is mainly jeggings, jeans, tops and scarves.
So I went shopping in Leeds and Sue went into Wakefield. And without realising, we both bought the same over-sized shirt which would go well over jeggings.
The blue shirt
We obviously couldn’t wear the same shirt – so Sue capitulated. She knew how stressed I’d be if she didn’t.
We decided to go shopping together. She didn’t buy anything but persuaded me to get a green tunic with cowl neck, which would go lovely over black jeggings. Oops, no BLACK TROUSERS allowed. Cowl neck has to go back.
We studied each other’s wardrobes. Would my tired, old, brown White Stuff blouse do if I wore it with cream leggings?
I’d love to wear my navy blue Boden dress but no NAVY BLUE allowed and, anyway, it makes me look like Theresa May.
What about my new see-through, multi-coloured blouse from Next? It’d work if I wore a cami underneath. I had no suitably coloured cami – so off to M&S.
What about my over-sized, burgundy jumper? It would be too hot under the studio lights. Or my new pink and white striped shirt with the flashy turn-back cuffs? No STRIPES allowed.
I frantically Googled womenswear sites and found the perfect tops on one – but the company couldn’t guarantee delivery time on online orders.
Will this do?
You know when you reach that point when you think: Damn it, this will just have TO DO? I reached it and this week, boarded the 7.32am train from home clutching my weekend bag, with new blue shirt, new blouse, tired brown top, burgundy jumper, striped shirt (in defiance) and three pairs of jeggings (in cream, blue and black – in defiance).
Sue had a massive suitcase with her and I rather suspected she’d bought her entire wardrobe but was still silently cursing me over the new blue shirt affair.
At the studio, we had to lay out our FIVE outfits for the wardrobe department to inspect and, of course, they went for the new blue shirt. All that worry and drama for nothing.
Sue looked lovely in her chosen top and jeggings and soon forgot about her new blue shirt hanging abandoned in her wardrobe back home.
Our outfits were taken away, pressed and hung up in the dressing room – yay, our own dressing room (which we shared with only eight other women. Imagine…) – and then it was off to make-up where Marie said she was going to airbrush us (ooh, bye bye flabby arms and cellulite, I thought). No, airbrushing uses a shiny implement to ‘blow’ foundation onto your face. Marie followed up using more eye shadow than I’ve ever owned in my life – and whoever that person was looking back at me from the mirror wasn’t me.
But I’m sure Sue and I will both look gorgeous when the programme is finally aired. Until then, my glossily red lips (make-up again) are sealed.
Oh, we gave copies of A Falling Friend to the main presenter, the lovely make-up Marie, an enthusiastic researcher and three other contestants.
So a good day for book marketing and publicity.