What made you decide to write a book giving advice on how to succeed at TV quiz shows?
The problem was so many people I knew wanted to go on a quiz shows but had no idea how to even start. Looking for the shows and trying to apply seemed so daunting, they wouldn't even try. Finding the casting calls is only the first step of what can be a long and arduous journey so I wanted to try and use my experience to ease the ordeal.
There are some great tips in the book. If you were wanting to make your first TV appearance at present, which show would you choose?
It all depends on how you gauge your individual talents. Although I think it's an awful idea terribly formatted, purely from a quiz viewpoint, Tipping Point could be a useful start. The questions aren't too tough and there's a mild combative component to the gameplay. It's a relatively gentle introduction to several common quiz show themes.
What do you think are the most important ingredients in creating a successful TV quiz show format?
In the modern environment, I think there's a move away from more overtly competitive and aggressive formats. Most current popular ideas tend to be solitary displays of knowledge whether it's against a quiz champion (such as The Chase) the clock or others' scores. The Weakest Link was justifiably successful but played too much on the stress of the environment rather than pure quiz ability.
In terms of increasing knowledge are there any particular reference books you would recommend?
Reference books are always tricky as information quickly becomes obsolete. One of the reasons I chose to publish How To Win TV Quiz Shows electronically was to save time (occasionally up to a year) between completion and release. However, it's hard to go wrong with The Times Atlas of the World. My best advice would be to subscribe to a magazine such as The Week which covers all the major news stories across the world. Current affairs are essentially to stay abreast of.
In terms of your quizzing achievements what are you most proud of?
I think this would have to be being a loud mouthed yob. I would never have got my career had I been a typically English shrinking violet. I saw my chance and took it. I wasn't afraid of the slings and arrows and, although my quizzing knowledge expanded massively, to give me the opportunity I had to get noticed in the first place. With my now infamous Weakest Link tirade, I did just that.
What have you been up to since leaving Eggheads?
I'm now an actor and recently opened in 'Geek! A New Musical' at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London's west end. I'm also producing this piece and a week into our month's run, we're lucky to be playing to sell out houses. Later this year I'll be producing and appearing in two Harvey Fierstein plays and will be taking the lead in a feature film at the start of 2014. Acting was really the only thing I ever wanted to do and, despite my best efforts, it seems I've got myself a career.
You mention in the book the amount of death threats and hate mail the BBC used to receive about you. Did this have an impact on your decision to leave Eggheads?
Oh not in the slightest. I found it hilarious and can't believe the people who take the trouble to physically write these things think they'll have any impact. I've been on Twitter a couple of years and get the most disgusting abuse (even had a couple of people arrested because of it) but it doesn't bother me in the slightest. The only concern I have is when others don't take this situation seriously enough. A few people tweeted I was a child abuser and even included a couple of mocked up photos. Twitter did nothing and neither did Charing Cross police station which I found shocking. Fortunately a radio and TV personality had s campaign against so called trolling which I became involved with and action was taken.
Is your competitive quizzing career over or may we see you returning to Grand Prixs or a serious quiz tv show any time in the future?
Never say never! ;-)
Here is a link to CJ's book on the Amazon Kindle Store. (Just a note that you don't need to a Kindle to read it, it can be browsed on any PC/Laptop)