Not always a winner but I'm game for a laugh

Grace Boateng

In an earlier article about my competition wins over the years, you may be forgiven for thinking that I win every time I enter a competition.  However, this is not the case and on more than one occasion I have been a loser in front of millions of viewers on television game shows.

I have no desire to be a television star and view being on television game shows as just another route to potentially winning some fantastic prizes. After filling in an application form the next step to being on a show is an audition. Being a Black woman I knew that not many Black people would apply, so I always felt my chances of getting onto a show was quite high. I assumed the producers would want to portray a cross-section of the population on the screen. 

One of the television games shows in the 1990’s that I took part in was Channel five’s 100%. This show had 3 contestants who had to answer a series of multiple-choice questions by pressing a button on the podium in front of them. There was no audience just the contestants, the film crew and the host. 

At various points during the programme, the host would announce the percentage of questions that each contestant had correct but would not reveal the winner until the end. The successful contestant won £100 and got the chance to play again the following day.

Another contestant and I lost to a retired lady who had already won the show 6 times in a row.  In the green room this lady had kept telling anyone that would listen how nervous she was! The unique thing about this show was that the television viewers never saw the host, nor did the contestants in the studio.

In 2000, I went to Scotland to appear on The Wheel of Fortune. My flight and hotel expenses were paid for by the television company. It was hosted by John Leslie and the hostess who revealed the letters was Jenny Powell. 

The Wheel of Fortune is a word game show where contestants are given a clue to a place or phrase. Each time they answer a question correctly they spin a wheel for a cash amount and then choose a vowel or a consonant to solve it.  Whilst getting my make-up done the lady given the task of making me look beautiful said: “If you get through to the final round do not choose the letter ‘e’ as it never comes up”. 

As luck would have it I made it through to the final round and was in with a chance of winning £2,000.  I had just bought my first flat so this money would have been very useful to me. My word was a place and I had 20 seconds to solve it after choosing my vowels and consonants. I remembered the make-up artist’s wise words and so avoided choosing the letter ‘e’. I struggled to see what my word was and before I knew it my time was over and I was not £2,000 richer. What was my word? – LEEDS CASTLE.

In 2003, I received a phone call inviting me to appear on a Channel 4 game show called Boys and Girl hosted by Vernon Kay.  The prize fund was £100,000 so how could I refuse considering I was about to be made redundant.  Surely, this was a sign from God?

The format of the show was that there was a studio audience of 100 boys and 100 girls. Each person had to do a ‘party piece’ in front of the audience of the opposite sex. The audience would vote and the two people who got the most votes plus a wild card person (supposedly chosen at random) would compete against each other. 

The audience was split into boys and girls and each team had to collectively answer a series of questions. The winning team would determine if a boy or girl went through to win the £100,000.  The winner could choose a member of the opposite sex to spend a week with them in a luxury apartment and they would be set a task each day to spend the money.  If the task was completed successfully they got to keep the goods.

The ‘party piece’ auditions were filmed and the best ones would be used in the show. My ‘party piece’ was a magic trick where I cut a length of rope in half and made it miraculously rejoin.

My secret weapon was to appeal to the basic level of men, so with that in mind I wore a very short skirt, a tight top and high heels. After all there was £100,000 at stake.  However, it was not to be. I may have given the lads an eyeful but didn’t get enough votes.

One show that I didn’t win on but I felt as if I had was The Price is Right with Bruce Forsyth who is currently hosting Strictly Come Dancing show. With 9 friends, I had made the long journey from London to Leeds.  Everyone in the studio audience had the chance of having their name called out and taking part in the show. I told my friends that I was confident that someone from our group would be chosen as we were the only Black members of the audience. I was correct and my best friend Stella was told, “to come on down”.

Just as you see it on the television, the contestants do not know they are going to be taking part until they hear their name announced. She took part and won a laptop computer, solid wood office furniture and a garden patio set. She narrowly missed out on the final showdown showcase which would have netted her prizes worth over £20,000.

When a game show I’ve done is aired on television it is amazing the number of people who recognise me, even complete strangers.  One lady from a previous temporary job I had saw a repeat of something I had been on aired on Challenge TV a few years after I had done it. It also interesting how many people happen to have caught the show when they were off sick from work.

If you are now inspired to try your luck at taking part in a television game show or anything else then take a look at