Bernard Hall, Cuddington
From Bradmoor Farm
By Haddenham Webteam - 18th October 2014 7:00am
Local resident and Haddenham Parish Councillor, John Wheeler, has achieved a major success as the winner of Channel Four's 'Fifteen-to-One' quiz programme, broadcast on Thursday 16th October 2014.
Friends and colleagues who watched him live, or via the TV channel's catch-up service, sat with bated breath and were utterly delighted to see John gradually polish off the fourteen other contestants, and receive the Fifteen-to-One trophy from the programme's host, Sandi Toksvig.
"It was a long day recording the show", said John, "but a very rewarding one — I thoroughly enjoyed the experience."
John is no stranger to quiz show challenges, having competed previously in such programmes as BBC TV's Mastermind and one of the very first editions of Pointless.
"I really enjoy competing in quizzes and it's one of my particular hobbies", says John. "I play for the Plough pub at Hyde Heath in the Chiltern Quiz League, which runs in pubs around Amersham and Chesham on Tuesday nights during the Autumn and Winter months. And I also like to pit my wits against like-minded souls on the TV quiz shows from time to time."
In the next month or two John will appear on another edition of BBC Mastermind.
"The Mastermind programme has already been recorded, but I'm not allowed to tell you how I did — you'll just have to watch the broadcast!"
Meanwhile, John can enjoy the success of his impressive achievement on Fifteen-to-One.
But what's it like to be part of such a potentially nerve-racking event?
"Although the auditions were conducted in London, we travelled to the studios in Glasgow for the actual recording."
"The day started at 7.00am and the final question I answered was at about 11.00pm — so it does take a long time, and remaining focused over that period can be a bit of a challenge".
"The studio is a large, echoey and intimidating space, and there's no audience — the applause is 'canned' and added to the programme after the recording is made. So there's only the technical production folk, the make-up people and so on, plus Sandi Toksvig, of course."
"I enjoyed meeting Sandi. She seems like a very pleasant person, and I admired her stamina, given that she records three editions of the show in one day! I was quite surprised at her small stature, though: I suspect she's under five feet tall, even in her Doc Martin boots!"
So does John have any particular techniques for remaining calm and focused, especially when he is under the spotlight?
"Although I'm an applied psychologist by profession, I don't use any special psychological tricks! I just try to remain very focused on the questions, and concentrate on picking out the key elements, given that some of the questions can be rather wordy."
"And during the lengthy periods between recording stages I read such worthy journals as "Heat" and "OK! magazine! They don't compete with Encyclopaedia Britannica but they're good for keeping up-to-date on contemporary events and celebrity news that can come up in TV quiz shows!"
So what's the ultimate secret of John's success as a Quiz Show contestant?
"There's no magic formula, really. The experience is an enjoyable one and I seem to have an ability to retain information and to recall it quickly. There's also the tactical element in a show like Fifteen-to-One that can be fun to indulge in a little!"
The Grand final of the show has already been recorded, but has yet to air. So we will have to wait and see how close John comes to winning the top prize of £40,000.