Greetings all. I am sorry to inform you that I have some very grave news. This may come as something of a shock to you – it certainly did to me – and I advise that you brace yourself accordingly.
Late night TV phone-in competitions are… well, they’re a scam. A big, fat, cruelly misleading, moneymaking scam, designed to prey on the wallets of the drunk, the bored and the weak-willed. Not philanthropic in the slightest. I know, who’d have thought? Wankers!
Yesterday, during one of my and my brother’s periodical bonding sessions, which typically revolve around late night TV, youtube and urbandictionary.com, we discovered this sad fact for ourselves. After a contented hour spent dissecting the album chart show and making snide comments about everyone on it (“What’s that coming over the hill? It’s the end of your career!” “Is that a tash? It looks like Martin Scorcese’s eyebrows crawled onto his face to die!”), flicking through stations at 3am, we found a delirious Johnny Vaughn lookalike hovering in nervous silence, pleading with the public to call in and win 20 thousand pounds by suggesting words that could come after “head” to make a new word or phrase. There were stil five options left after “Head first”. Easy, yes? Yet, apparently, no one was calling. Sensing a solution to all our financial woes, Mikey and I dropped the remote and gazed, transfixed, at the screen.
The following is somewhat abridged:
ME: This is madness! I can think of loads! Head start, head band, headmaster, head lice, head hunted, head or tails, head of state…
MIKEY: headline, headlight…
ME: headless chicken…
MIKEY: that one’s crap.
ME: Yeah. Yeah you’re right. (pause) Why is no one calling in? I’m going to call in. Shall I call in?
MIKEY: Yeah, go on.
TV: Please, call in, there’s 20,000 up for grabs…
ANSWERPHONE MESSAGE: I’m sorry, your call has not been selected. This call has cost you 75p.
TV: We’re waiting for your calls! It IS achievable!
ME: What the fuck?! Mikey… Mikey – I think we’ve been scammed.
MIKEY: Well yeah, it’s all a scam.
ME: Oh. Thank you. (writing a note) Dear Mum. I owe you 75p because the TV scammed me. I’m sorry. Mikey made me do it.
MIKEY: I did NOT make you. I was a neutral party. Why don’t you blame some other inanimate object? Blame the lampshade.
ME: Shall I call in again?
ME: But we could win twenty grand!
MIKEY: Yeah, and then just think how many 75p calls you could make!
(a female presenter comes onto the screen)
ME: (bitterly) Well THEY’RE not real.
(someone calls in with “headless chicken”)
MIKEY: Ha! what a twat!
TV: Congratulations! You have just won 20,000 pounds!
ME: I want to cry.
TV: Please, keep the calls coming in, we’re waiting for your calls!
ME: Whatever, bitch.
(five minutes of silence elapse. The presenter is getting twitchy)
TV: Erm… so what do YOU want for christmas? (silence). I’D LIKE A CLOCK! Won’t someone pop one in for me?
ME: Did she really just say that?
TV: Right, we’ve got a new competition now! What word can you make from the following letters? C – H – R – T -S -I – M – A – S.
ME: For fuck’s sake. Ooh, let me think. Well I can make “SHIT SCAM”, but that leaves an extra R…
MIKEY: You can nearly make SCAM ARTIST.
TV: What would YOU buy with 20,000?
ME: Well YOU could hire a better surgeon, frankly.
TV: Come on! It’s not difficult! We’re waiting for your calls!
(ten minutes of silence)
ME: I can’t believe I’m watching this.
MIKEY: If she wasn’t pretty I’d have changed the channel by now.
ME: Ugh. You’re so easily manipulated. (pause) Shall I call in?
ME: I’m going to bed.
Do not be fooled by the cheery dispositions and stylish QVC-esque backdrop. These people are evil and must be destroyed. I was one of the lucky ones – it’s only 75p and an hour of my life that I can’t get back, whereas Mary from Northern Ireland, getting through for the fifth time and still winning nothing, may well be swinging from the rafters somewhere whilst a TV exec cackles gleefully and tosses a wad of 50s onto the fire.
You have been warned.