I recently highlighted the many successes of The Chase in a blog post for Pauseliveaction and have since caught up with the exquisitely humble ice maiden herself, Anne Hegerty – the quiz show’s top performing chaser and most fearsome opponent.
The dynamics, personalities, intellect and foibles of the show’s pantomime villains, the Chasers, is, alongside the magnificent host, Bradley Walsh (Danny Baldwin off Corrie), the show’s greatest strength and they have become the biggest stars, even in the celebrity editions.
When she isn’t filming her several hundred appearances on The Chase, Anne is busy participating in European and World Quizzing championships and being buried under a backlog of magazine back issues and quiz books, for the homework of a quiz genius is never complete.
So I was very lucky to grab a few in-depth conversations with Anne, exclusively for the readers of this blog, to get an insight into her work on the UK’s most popular quiz show.
Anne considers her responses carefully, in order to give honest, detailed and non-cliché answers and I have had to be as ruthless as the proof reader herself in the editing process of the material I was left with.
Anne explains that the process of preparing and filming The Chase is a lot more complex than it may appear on screen, with each of the three shows filmed daily taking in excess of two hours to record.
With Anne based in the North, like my good self, this involves a lot of time away from home. Even before the cameras are switched on, Anne is hard at work, with hair, makeup, unflattering costumes and preparatory questions being fired at her backstage.
When asked how she got on with her fellow colleagues, Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett, Paul ‘The Sinnerman’ Sinha, and Our Man In The North’s biggest rival for his fiancee’s affections, Shaun ‘The Dark Destroyer’ Wallace, Anne describes an atmosphere of camaraderie and support.
“We genuinely do get on really well,” she told me. “It’s like having three extra little brothers. Shaun claims I’m his lucky charm, and that he plays better when I’m sitting backstage. Paul is my pairs partner in the British and European Pairs Championships. Mark and I are always texting and chatting.”
Of course, it’s natural for there to be a little light competition and Anne confirms that the four quiz masters are always keeping an eye on their statistics, but she explains this is more to do with not wanting to be the worst performer as opposed to a drive to be the best. With a day starting at roughly 9am and ending around 7pm, it isn’t quite as straightforward as popping in for an hour to answer a set of questions and then go home for the day. Particularly for host Bradley Walsh, who films three shows a day, it is a hectic, full on day and Anne expressed particular admiration for her witty colleague.
“Brad sometimes does ‘pick-ups’, which are retakes of individual lines that he didn’t say clearly enough,” Anne explained. “He’s having to read so fast while remaining clear, and he doesn’t see the questions beforehand, so he’s got to do it on his feet. I couldn’t do what he does.”
Anne also describes another colleague, writer Adam Bostock-Smith, who, as well as being responsible for the witty lines on BBC quiz Only Connect, comes up with suggestions for the banterful comments made by the Chasers as they meet contestants for the first time. Although there is a script of sorts in place, Anne goes on to explain that these are never set in stone and much of the material which comes across on screen is ad lib and is a result of the genuine rapport between the Chaser and Bradley.
Of course, YouTube is awash with hilarious moments which have cropped up unscripted on the show and perhaps most infamous of all, is the Fanny Chmelar question which reduced both Bradley and Anne to hysterics. Anne comments that she knew right away when she was told the laughter was not being edited out that it would become a memorable moment, but she admits expressing surprise by just how much of a viral internet hit it has become.
Asked about other favourite moments from the show, Anne comments that the team were proud of the Text Santa special last year, which showed all chasers competing against a team of celebrities while dressed as pantomime characters. If you haven’t seen this episode yet, you can see it on YouTube here. At the time of interview, Anne was still unsure as to whether there will be a similar festive edition this year.
In her own time, Anne has to work hard to keep at the top of her game. But, behind the façade of ‘Frosty Knickers’, Ms Hegerty is just human like the rest of us, and admits that she isn’t always as focused as she ought to be.
“What I like to think I do is: read every week the Radio Times, The Week and Heat, then set myself 100 or so questions on each and keep revising them. Also watch the chart shows and keep an eye on the headlines, as well as constantly reading quiz books and Trevor Montague’s A-Z series,” Anne told me, before going on to confess:
“What I actually do is: sit around on the internet, haphazardly reading anything that takes my fancy, including political blogs and fanfiction, neither of which is really going to be much use for quizzing, while feeling guilty about not actually doing all the efficient stuff above, and wondering if I’m going to die in a landslide of unread issues of the Radio Times, The Week and Heat!”
A rising television star, Anne often faces a lot of fan recognition but takes her fame in her stride, careful to maintain her privacy. With an intense workload, it often seems as if Anne never seems to relax but she reassures me by explaining that research is her way of relaxing. Asked for any advice to budding quizzers, Anne simply replies that maintaining natural curiosity is the key.
It is refreshing to see a person with such passion and enjoyment for their career and I am confident when Anne agrees to be reunited with me for a further interview in a few years’ time, she will have some new stories to tell and many more successes to add to her belt.
If you have any comments or thoughts on Anne Hegerty’s interview, The Chase in general or the blog, please make use of our comments section below.
What’s it like to be a contestant on The Chase? Charlie Gardner tells all in our interview here: https://pauseliveaction.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/the-chase-interview-with-contestant-charlie-gardner/
Posted by Our Man In The North
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My Interview with another Chaser, Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett can be found here: https://pauseliveaction.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/the-chase-usa-exclusive-interview-with-mark-the-beast-labbett/