We all miss Daphne’s friendly face on Eggheads since her retirement in 2014, so it was only fitting to arrange an interview with her to catch up on how she is doing……
From bank secretary to quiz champion, Daphne has come a long way….
Yes, Fifteen To One, Going For Gold, Brain of Britain and of course Eggheads would not be the same without her. So here is our interview with Daphne…..
Good afternoon Daphne, first of all let me congratulate you on your retirement from what must have been stressful at times being part of the long running popular quiz show Eggheads. Although you were a ‘TV regular’, was Eggheads the most stressful of them all?
“Eggheads wasn’t the least bit stressful: 12Yard seemed to have the knack of picking the most wonderful set of crew members and I loved every minute of it. I always felt that Judith and I were flying the flag for older ladies, and so it was a joy to be made up and encouraged to wear pretty clothes so that we looked feminine, yet knew our stuff. I also loved meeting all the contestants. We always tried, so long as there was time, to go and have a chat with them and reassure them that it was fun and they would enjoy themselves. “
Who is your favourite fellow Egghead?
“I couldn’t possibly say: I liked them all, perhaps some, a little bit more than the others, but I can honestly say that I never fell out with any of them.”
It came as a surprise to many when you announced your retirement from the show, did you think long and hard about the decision?
“As for my retirement, well quite honestly it was the travelling to Glasgow that finally got to me. When Eggheads started, we were based at the Television Centre in London and it was a three hour journey on the train to get there, which meant that I could easily get back home in a hurry if I needed to. However, London was very noisy and the cars booked to take us back to our hotels always seemed to be “stuck in traffic”. Glasgow, when we were relocated there in early 2010, was completely different. A lovely quiet hotel on one side of the Clyde, opposite the television studios and we could walk across the footbridge in a few minutes. The only downside was having to fly from Bristol and there was usually only, at that time as we normally filmed during the autumn/winter months, one flight a day which worried me as my husband had recently been diagnosed with a heart condition. My last shows were recorded in April 2013 and it was only a month later that I decided to announce my retirement as I had just learnt that my daughter, who had had a very serious operation while I was recording in the February, now needed a follow up operation later that year. I knew that if it coincided with the next lot of recordings, I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate and in any case, I was getting more and more exhausted with the long days of recordings. The cons now outweighed the pros of continuing with Eggheads, and I am sure, as time goes on, that I got the timing of my retirement absolutely right. I do miss the buzz of recording and of course, my fellow Eggheads, but I do keep in touch with several of them and they keep me in the loop with all the gossip.”
Your first job was a bank secretary in 1975. When did you become interested in quizzing?
“I first became interested in quizzing after I joined NatWest as a Secretary in 1975 and they asked me to be in a quiz team for the annual Bank quiz. As the Branch Accountant put it to me, “You can spell, can’t you?” and that was all that was expected of me – they would give me the answers and although they could be wrong, at least they would be correctly spelt. But it turned out that it was me giving all the right answers and to everyone’s surprise, we got through to the next round. My manager was so delighted that I got a pay rise with my annual review. I had suddenly realised that I was good at retaining general knowledge, so I started buying quiz books (I now have over 600), listening to Brain of Britain and watching quiz shows. In 1979, when I was watching “Winner Takes All” with my three youngest boys, answering all the questions that the contestants were getting wrong, that the boys decided to write and put my name forward as a contestant, because they said in the letter “our Mum knows everything!” I didn’t win but I came a good second and got hooked on the whole experience.
“Your second appearance was Bullseye, is that true about the speedboat offer?”
” I entered Bullseye with my first husband Bernard, but although we got to the final, we didn’t win the star prize as my poor husband was so nervous, he didn’t score enough. We had no car at the time so we were bitterly disappointed but later I heard Jim Bowen give an interview in which he said that they didn’t often give away a car, it was more likely to be a speedboat as his producer could get 3 for the price of 2. If the finalists failed to win the star prize, then they’d show the car, but if they did win, they’d probably get the speedboat.”
Sale of the Century won you your very own car. What was it and how easy or hard was it to win?
“I did eventually win a car however, the following year when I won Sale of the Century, which for me has to be the best win ever. I had revised for weeks beforehand, practising buzzing in early and learning banker questions such as capitals, currencies etc. What I didn’t know at the time was that because of my win, I would be invited to take part in the Australian version of the quiz, three times and win enough money to buy my little council house outright.”
Here are a few questions from some of your fans….(From Paul Preston) What was your best moment appearing a game show as a contestant? And are there any game shows that you really wanted to be on?
“I would have loved to have taken part in “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” and tried very hard to get on the show. However, when we got the phone bill after my first try, I realised I couldn’t afford to keep doing this and gave up. I am so pleased I did because later, I was told confidentially by someone who knew, that there was an unofficial black list and because of my successes on 15-1, I was probably on it. Ah well….”
I would also have loved to have taken part in the television version of Mastermind. I did do the radio version with Peter Snow in 1999, but hadn’t been well at the time. In fact my husband nearly rang up on the day of recording to say I couldn’t make it but I didn’t want to let people down. I only came third but at least it gave me the chance to join the Mastermind Club. I’m glad I chose to go as I later found out that my subject was the novels of P D James, and she herself had written the questions. Not long afterwards I rushed into hospital with multiple pulmonary embolisms, so in the immortal words of Spike Milligan “I told you I was ill!” In 2003, I decided to have another go at Mastermind and was delighted to be told I had passed the audition and they liked my subjects. But then Eggheads came along at the same time, and like everyone else, I thought, well I’ll do this for a couple of years and earn a bit of money and have another go at Mastermind when Eggheads finishes, little knowing how popular the show was to be. I now realise that it’s too late for me to have another go at Mastermind – I would simply not be quick enough. I must admit, I did think about it, but you won’t see me popping up on any future quiz shows as I am determined to retain my Eggheads image.”
Do you still do local quizzes now you have more quality time?
“I still go a local quiz once a month where we raise funds for charities. I have been going for nearly 40 years, having been asked by the same NatWest Branch Accountant who introduced me to quizzes, to join his friend’s team. As the Quidnuncs, we took part in the Angela Rippon quiz show “Masterteam” in 1986 but got knocked out in the first round. Besides writing my Internet quiz, I have also been writing charity quizzes, especially in aid of the Luhimba Project which I have the honour to be the patron of.
Apart from that, I am enjoying my retirement, surrounded by my husband and family. I am sooo lucky!!”
You also have your own website. Should your fans go there to read more about your quizzing exploits?
“I decided to set up my quiz website recently DaphnesDailyQuiz when I was updating the questions on my database, as I was a bit bored with no future quizzes to revise for. It reflects my interests, so no pop music and very little sport and popular culture, although occasionally, they do manage to slip in.
My inspiration was the late Irene Thomas who won Brain of Britain in 1961 and who wrote a quiz book called “The Almost Impossible Quiz Book” which I absolutely loved. I’ve put the sort of questions on the website that I liked when I was quizzing – I always made a point of learning new information every single day and if any of the questions seem a bit obscure, well, I always found knowing those sort of answers gave me that little bit of an edge. After I won Brain of Britain in 1997, the local radio station asked listeners to ring in with questions for me and one of them asked me what the initials RW stood for on a bottle of disinfectant. Apparently it’s Rideal Walker and I remember thinking at the time, who would want to know that! A few years later, that question turned up on 15-1 and of course, I knew the answer.”
It’s been a pleasure talking with you Daphne. May I just say from all your many fans out there, you smiling face on Eggheads was the soothing factor competing teams first saw. A lot thought you would be an easy touch on the ‘head to head’ rounds. How wrong they were! We wish you all the best for the future and wish you and your family a healthy happy life together.
(From an interview by Quiz Britain in June 2015)