Next morning, I was told to share the can to the studios with another contestant also staying in the same hotel – Jane. We met in the foyer at 7.30am, then made our way to the studios. We talked about how we play Letters & Numbers at home, how we do and the like. It was then I found out she was a champion scrabble player.
You may think Scrabble champions have an upper hand in the letters side of Letters and Numbers, but it can come as a disadvantage – as scrabble allows so many more words than Letters & Numbers do – which, of course, are words in the Macquarie dictionary. For example Scrabble has words that feature a “Q” with no “U”, but in reality, you’d be hard pressed finding such a word in the dictionary.
If you have ever looked at the latest book of what words are allowed in scrabble, then you would see straight away there are many words that simply can’t even be pronounced, let alone be assigned a meaning in the dictionary.
That aside, we arrived at the studios around 8am, and met fellow contestants Mathew, Steve and Bonnie. Soon after the five of us – the five new contestants for the week – got to know each other, in walks Ben – a five night champion, about to take on one of us for his 6th and final night.
Having all seen the show, and how good you have to be to make it to 6 nights, none of us wanted to take on Ben on his 6th night.
We then met Gillian in person – the contestant coordinator. She took us to a holding room. She briefed us all, and told us to relax and have fun. The message was not to stress out, and to take it easy. Don’t worry about only getting a five letter word for example. She gave alot of positive reinforcement, and said the contestants that fail are those that go in thinking they will fail.
Those that go in and have fun, and believe they will do well, will do well. Despite all that, its not hard to avoid the nerves of going onto TV.
It all hits home when they take you into the studio. On the way, we pass Lily in her dressing gown, and host Richard going into his dressing room. He is smiling, as always.
All five of us the new contestants are given a trial in sitting in the contestants seats, and answering standard Letters & Numbers questions. Spoiler alert: the conundrum during this rehearsal is”REHEARSAL”!
It is decided that Mathew will play first against Ben. Letters and Numbers records five shows in a day – a whole week worth of TV, done in one day. This is quite common for weekly half hour game shows. Each half hour show takes around an hour to record, with between 15-30 minutes between episodes and a one hour lunch break between the third and the fourth episode.
The five shows fit roughly into a normal 9am-5pm working day.