A WOKINGHAM woman has beaten some of the best brains in the country to scoop a £9,000 prize.
Last night, millions of viewers watched funeral celebrant Sarah-Jane Seymour take on the trio for the new ITV game show Beat The Chasers.
Spin-off to the popular teatime game The Chase, the Bradley Walsh-hosted show sees contestants win money for taking on the Chasers – the more they choose to do battle with, the more money they go home with.
Sarah-Jane won £3,000 out of a possible £5,000 in her cashbuilder round, and opted to take on three chasers – Paul Sinha, Jenny Ryan and Shaun Wallace – seeing her cashpot treble to £9,000.
And she won with just two seconds to spare.
Sarah-Jane said that she watched The Chase every day and had pledged to sign up when she turned 50, but “I didn’t have the nerve to do it”.
She continued: “Then my daughter found a post online asking for people to apply for Beat The Chasers. She tagged me in it. I was sitting at home on my own that afternoon, so I thought, ‘I’ll just apply now’.
“I filled it in immediately. Took the dog out for a walk and when I was on my way back they phoned me and asked me if I wanted to come in for an audition.
“So I didn’t really have the chance to think twice about it or talk myself out of it.”
To help her get into the mindset, she underwent a crack course of trivia.
“We played games. Lots and lots of general knowledge quizzes,” Sarah-Jane said. “I kind of adopted the attitude of, if I didn’t already know it, I was never going to learn it.
“I have number blindness – so I knew there was no point learning the square root of a number or the Periodic Table or anything like that. So I just went over things I felt were subjects I was quite comfortable with. So we practised and practised and we did them as a family. We’d all sit together.
“Everyone asked me questions.
“And I decided when I was playing, that if the answer doesn’t come straight out of my mouth, I’ll pass. I didn’t want to waste time thinking.”
Being a big fan of The Chase means that she knows all of the Chasers skills and knowledge fairly well, so she was delighted with at least one of the three that she took on for the show.
“Paul: he’s my favourite,” she admitted, of the man who has sometimes acted as quiz show host for Reading’s Back of Beyond pub.
“When I had the offers, on the fourth offer The Beast came in and I just thought, ‘No way! I’m not going up against him.’ He terrifies me. He’s got a mathematical brain that I haven’t got. I find that intimidating.
“I thought, well, once he comes in, he’s going to make an offer that’s going to be too difficult. He was the one I didn’t want to go up against.
“But Paul’s my absolute favourite – I think he’s really sweet. There’s something about him, he’s pretty adorable.”
The Chasers aren’t the only stars of the show: host Bradley Walsh, who recently appeared as companion Graham in the BBC drama Doctor Who, is an important part of the quiz show’s success. And Sarah-Jane was pleased to see that he was just as nice off-screen as he is on it.
“What you see is what you get – he’s so much like his on-screen persona, he seemed so warm and he was so friendly. He made it say easy! He didn’t make me feel nervous,” she said.
“There was a whole air of it being slightly surreal anyway! If I’d thought about what I was doing, I may have been more nervous. But because it was in a bubble I just went with it.
“And having banter with him – he’s so quick! It was a huge thrill because he was so funny – he makes it, I think.”
The events of the show has stayed in Sarah-Jane’s memory, including one about the nation’s favourite dish…
“The last question in my Cash Builder about when did fish and chips first appear,” she recalled. “I said something like 16th Century. I think The Beast said, ‘You couldn’t have heated the oil up that hot back then’. Then you think, ‘That’s really obvious!’
And Sarah-Jane won that £9,000 by taking on three Chasers – beating them with two seconds to spare. But did she have any regrets she went for a lower offer. After all, she could have won more by taking on more Chasers.
“None at all. I think I’d have come out of there with nothing if I’d gone for the deal above me,” she said. “I never thought I’d win! The fact that I did win something was just the cherry on top.
“There was just no way I would have gone for four Chasers for that £30k. I just wouldn’t have won it. So I don’t regret my decision at all.”
And one thing that made viewers laugh was her confession about what she’d spend her winnings on: she told Bradley that it would go towards her partner’s divorce.
She smiles: “Is that still the plan? I don’t know…”
Beat The Chasers continues tonight at 9pm on ITV