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Andrea Liburd Vs. The Hit List
28 October 2021
Going back to a Saturday night in 2019, I watched a new music game show on BBC one named ‘The Hit List’ and took an instant liking to it. Hosted by Marvin and Rochelle Humes, The Hit List is a music quiz for the whole family that’ll have you shouting the answers at the TV. It’s deceptively simple, because all you have to do to win a potential £10,000 prize is name the artist and title of hit songs. In no way do I see myself as a quizzer, but I know a thing or two about music…
So, fast forward to 2020, amid the global pandemic and certainly feeling void of anything that felt normal, I watched contestants go up against each other to test their knowledge of music as they attempt to name as many songs and artists as possible. The songs played are all hits from a wide range of music genres from the 1950s to today.
I phoned Gillian (my teammate) and before we’d even said hello to each other, she greeted me with “Ange, are you watching The Hit List? Good! Because I’ve submitted our application.” To be honest, I laughed it off as I knew this was a popular show, so I had zero expectation of being shortlisted. The application was submitted in November 2020 and by March 2021, things got interesting. We were contacted by the casting producer, who also shared our excitement of all things Spice Girls and Michael Jackson, and were invited to the ‘audition period’. This had 4 stages and could’ve taken up to 6 weeks!
the audition process
By the time the audition process began, the casting team had whittled 1,500 applications down to 50 teams, advising us we were all in with a really good chance of being on the show. Series 4 consists of 12 episodes including 6 Celebrity Specials. 18 teams were needed overall and competition was still high.
Stage 1 called for each pairing to send a 5-minute presentation video explaining why they’d make good Saturday Night Television. The requirement was couples who had good chemistry and could buy in the support of the Nation. Only 30 couples would progress to Stage 2. As we continued to get through the audition process (all on Zoom) naming that tune, talking about the dynamics of our relationship, singing, dancing, showing our potential outfits and general chit chat with the producers, I’d still managed to convince myself ‘we’d be out’ soon.
On the 26th April, we were down to the last 21 teams left in the audition process, there was still no guarantee that we’d be cast in an episode, as not all teams shortlisted for the series will make it on to the show. Filming was due to take place between the 15th – 18th of May in Glasgow, at the BBC studios. I was super excited and not allowed to talk about it with anyone other than my teammate and the casting team. Confirmation of our filming date came through – it was May 17th. We’d only be needed for one day in the studio but would be entitled to an all-expenses-paid, whirlwind 24 hours in Glasgow. I couldn’t believe my/our luck.
day of filming
The day before filming our taxi arrived at 9:30am to take us to Luton Airport. We were flown to Glasgow and had a day to explore. Filming day at the BBC studios began at 7am. We met the teams we’d be up against for the first time and were guided to our dressing rooms. We were shortly greeted by the wardrobe team who took our clothes away to be steamed and to make sure they wouldn’t strobe under lighting. At 7:45am we’d had our hair and makeup done, and had a taste of the celebrity lifestyle. At 8:15am we had our microphones installed and by 8:40am we had a pep talk and a 15-minute rehearsal to make sure everything was working and in place as expected. The brief was ‘bring’ the excitement and ‘think Saturday night on a Monday morning’…I was smiling from ear to ear.
The format in each show is three pairs of contestants who put their music knowledge to the test as they attempt to name as many songs and artists as possible. Round 1’s called ‘5 of 5 from 5′. In this round, five seconds of five songs are played – one song from each of the last five decades starting from today’s charts and going back to the 70s. Each pair has the chance to put 5 points on the scoreboard.
Round 2’s all about speed and quick-thinking. Each team’s played a selection of clips from hit tracks, the split second the song’s recognised, they must press their button to get in first with an answer. If you get it right, not only is a point scored there’s also a chance to identify a bonus track but get it wrong, you’ll be put on mute while the other teams have a chance to win the point.
Round 3’s all about the intros of songs. Each pair has a clock with 45 seconds on it. They take it in turns to correctly name tracks and artists from a ‘Hit List’. When their song starts playing, their clock starts to count down. They can shout out the answer as many times as they like, but the clock will only stop once a correct answer’s given. Play then passes to the opponents who must try and name a track and artist whilst their clock ticks down. Play goes back and forth between the teams until one pair’s clock hits zero. The pair that runs out of time first, leaves the show. The other team proceeds to the Final Chart Rundown playing for £10,000.
During the rehearsal stage, our team came last. So, when we went in to live play, I was nervous and thought “I don’t mind if we don’t win, but we can’t be out first.” To both of our surprise, we played better than expected. Gillian and I had the most amazing experience and the warmest reception from those who have watched the show. It will remain on BBC iplayer for an indefinite length of time.