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Diary of a Thwarted TV Host – To Dream the Impossible Dream

He’s back! The Thwarted TV Host with stories to tell you about the real world of television presenting. He’s doesn’t mince his words (well he does but not when it comes to telling the unvarnished truth!); he holds nothing back.

Are you ready for an overdue update from The Diary of a Thwarted TV Host?

Then here he is – Greg Scott!! (Cue applause; lights up).

TO DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM….

Hello, fellow telly lovelies.

I’ve been a rather worried about whether or not the piece you’re about to read should be published, for fear of reprisals.

But then again, I’m truly of the belief that, barring some completely unforeseeable miracle, I’ll set foot (professionally) in a TV studio ever again, so what have I got to lose?

In my last piece, I mentioned that I set out to write about my experience in trying to land the job as the new host of “Countdown”. The coveted seat is up for grabs when Jeff Stelling departs in December.

The article turned into a list of my dos and don’ts as far as trying to get a gig in front of a camera is concerned. I’m such a scatterbrained scallywag.

So now, let’s go back to the original topic.

For those in the majority who don’t know anything about me, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why does this delusional fool feel that he’s worthy of the Countdown chair?”

And that’s fair enough. But please allow me to explain.

From 1990 to 2003, I was the warm-up man for the show – Or “Audience Liaison Executive”, as I liked to call myself. I became a part of the furniture, not only taking care of the audience, but as time went on, I used to contribute witticisms and written pieces for the programme… I used to come up with little ideas to slip in here and there… And on several occasions, I did actually host the show – Never in a broadcast capacity, but for daft versions of the prog – Corporate events and such like…. And if ever anybody’s train was late (mentioning no Vorde… I mean NAMES)… I’d throw together an impromptu edition of the show to keep the studio audience entertained.

Here – Take a look: http://www.gregscott.tv/countdown_greg-stylee.html

All a bit too silly for the real thing, but I did what was required at the time.

I genuinely love the show. It’s more than a game. It’s a part of peoples’ lives – And I have an affection for the show to match that of the fondest viewer.

Fast forward to 2011.

In July of this year, I appeared on the show after eight years away, as a contestant. Another vid for you to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAtilXjJ-60

When I heard that Jeff was leaving, I just HAD to try to land my dream job. I contacted Jay Hunt, the Chief Cheese of Channel 4. In my email, I suggested that despite the fact I wasn’t a “name”, I’d be a great choice as the new host – My association with the show… The fact that I’d only recently been a contestant… My love for the programme, and moreover, the fact that like the last three “names” who have chaired the show, I wouldn’t get bored after 18 months, up-sticks and leave. That it would become my life – And most importantly from their perspective (I’d have thought), that as I have a proven skill to connect with both older and younger viewers (Reference the postbag / emails sent in to “Quizmania”), I could more than likely bring a whole new audience to the show without alienating their current viewership.

Jay replied a week later. She gave no opinion herself, but said that she’d passed my email on to Helen Warner, Channel 4’s Head of Daytime.

I emailed Helen right away, just to add what I felt needed adding to what I’d sent to Jay, in an attempt to make trying me out an irresistible prospect, namely: “Please give me just 10 minutes of your time – When carrying out the screen tests, just pop me in front of the camera for a short time to see what I can bring to the party”. Or words to that effect.

I did get a reply. Here are the bullet points.

  • That there were a lot of big “names” who had flagged interest in taking over as host.
  • That she didn’t believe I was right for the show.
  • And that she would NOT be screen-testing me.

You can imagine my frustration at receiving such a reply.

The fact that she / they wouldn’t even LOOK at me was the most frustrating thing of all.

The question HAS to be asked – how can anyone say that I’m not right for the show, if they don’t put me in front of the camera and try me out? And for those of you saying “What about the stuff on YouTube?” – I was messing about in those clips – I wouldn’t have been such a daft apeth on the real McCoy, and would have performed in the correct manner in any audition.

But let’s look at the wider picture…

When the programme began, Carol V was totally unknown. And except for an incident with a vicious ferret, Whiters was unknown outside the Yorkshire Television area, where he presented the local news show, “Calendar”.

By putting an unknown in the chair again, would it REALLY have been that much of a risk?

Imagine the publicity that could have been generated with interviews on TV and in newspapers and magazines – The story of the former behind-the-scenes Johnny and contestant who ended up hosting the programme?

To be fair on Helen Warner she did at least reply. This in itself is sadly rare.  And she was honest – again something you don’t often get in this business. No doubt she felt it was kinder not to raise false hopes by getting me in for a screen test. But maybe she would have been surprised. Maybe she would have ended up with a tape she could have taken upstairs to bolster the argument for a presenter with passion and ability rather than simply a well-known name…..

All of this is immaterial now. At the risk of sounding arrogant and swell-headed, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would have done a great job on the show. But it’s TV’s obsession with names. It’s TV’s obsession with playing things safe which leads to the same (in some cases undeserved, unsuitable and dull) faces appearing on our screens time and time again – They are only there either because they are “names” (and it doesn’t matter how their “name” was made)… OR BECAUSE THEY’RE WITH THE RIGHT MANAGEMENT – A topic I’ll come on to another time.

It’s going to be fascinating to see who DOES land the Countdown gig.

It’ll be interesting to see…

… if they have the love for the show that I have.

… if they will try to outshine the show, and stamp their mark all over it… Because the GAME is the star – Not the host – The host’s job is to tickle it along with gentle humour, warmth and intelligence – Not to turn it into “The ****** Show”.

… if they use it as a stepping stone to try to propel themselves to other platforms…

… or if they get bored and nick off after a year or two – as every host since Richard seems to have done.

In conclusion – I’m well aware that my past ramblings – and some of my forthcoming ones – will make me out to be a bitter and resentful man.

But having proved that I can carry the baton…

Having hosted full-on productions with minimal rehearsal – but only the pilots…

Having been repeatedly praised by viewers and certain big-wigs in the industry…

All I want to do is earn the best living I can to provide the best I can for my family. That is the bottom line. And if spouting off in this manner makes me look bitter, then so be it.

There’s no ego – It’s not about wanting to be famous – Yes; Fame comes with success, but it’s not the aspect I’m interested in.

I’ve spent the last 12 years living on the bread line. A lot of the time below it. I’m now doing what one might call an “ordinary” job during the week – but hosting a radio show at the weekend – to keep me from going rusty.

But I cannot let the career aim go. I know I’ve still got so much to offer. The question is, will anybody ever take me up on it?

It’s doubtful on recent evidence. I’ve all but given up on chasing it. But at the back of my mind, I live in hope that one day…. ONE DAY… I’ll get a call out of the blue to say, “Come on then, ya git – Show us what you’ve got”.

Indeed – As I write this, I’m kind of praying that someone with clout will be reading this, will sympathise with my plight, and will take me under their wing. Foolish? Undoubtedly. But as long as there’s a 0.00003% chance of me achieving my career dream, I won’t let it go.

Catch you again soon, telly fans. Xx

GREG SCOTT WAS A HOST OF ITV1’s “QUIZMANIA”, AND ON PRICE-DROP TV. HE IS (WHEN ASKED) A RADIO PRESENTER, AUDIENCE WARM-UP MAN, WRITER, VOICE-OVER ARTIST, AND FORMAT DEVELOPER. YOU CAN FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HIM AT www.gregscott.tv AND LISTEN TO HIM BETWEEN 6 and 10, HOSTING THE WEEKEND BREAKFAST SHOW ON MINSTER FM (104.7 in North Yorkshire and www.minsterfm.com online).

Thank you once again, Greggles, for saying it how it really is. This is the sort of stuff you need to know if you’re thinking of making TV presenting your source of income.  It’s a harsh world out there and broadcasters are fighting for every viewer and every penny. At times like this the unfortunate response is often to play ‘safe’ with a famous face.

Of course Greg is giving us his own personal experience and his unique perspective on it. Everybody’s story is different. If you’d like to share your story then simply Contact Me via the relevant page above.

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