Secrets of Anne Hegerty’s success

‘Governess’ Anne Hegerty may have notched up seven years on The Chase in the UK, and nearly 2 in Australia -but she never stops training.

Her secret is simple -keep doing quizzes, whether online or in Quiz Leagues, popular in the UK.

“There’s different ways of learning and I find the best way to learn is to keep doing quizzes. On a Monday night I go out and play with my quiz league team in Manchester and then on a Tuesday night I’ll be going out to East Manchester to take part in (another) league.

“What works for me is just doing quizzes a lot. You kind of learn to think how a quizzer thinks. You learn how to see a story and think ‘That bit of that story will come up.’

“It’s about being curious more than anything else. It’s simply about wondering: ‘What is that? I’ve heard that word and what does it mean?’

“You do get some seriously good contestants here, but there’s not quite the quizzing culture we have at home and you don’t have quiz leagues.

“But I know they have a good deal of pub quizzing here.”

“Mark and I get kind of paranoid about our Australian knowledge”

But Hegerty does have her weak spots, some of which will appear in The Chase gameplay. Along with Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett, she has had to become expert in Australian trivia.

“Mark and I get kind of paranoid about our Australian knowledge and we’re always trying to improve it. We’re always worried that we’re going to be blindsided by an Australian question,” she admits.

“I do try to keep an eye on AFL and things like that, but there’s just so much Australian knowledge. I’m always reading The Age and trying to read up on things I don’t know. When a quizzer comes across a fact that they didn’t know, you will find they will go straight to Wikipedia. ‘I need to know about this. Who was this person?’

“I try very hard to get better at pop culture because I’m more of a highbrow quizzer. The British Championships tend to have a highbrow quiz and a lowbrow quiz and my ambition is always to do well in the lowbrow.

“Since I started quizzing I began paying more attention to the charts, which I really stopped listening to in about the mid 1980s.

“I’m really good on old pop culture -the kind of thing that most people aren’t good at!”

“I don’t get as much talking because they’ve got to cut down some somewhere.”

Hegerty and Labbett visit Australia several times a year for recordings of the Seven game show, joining local Chasers, Matt ‘Goliath’ Parkinson, Issa ‘Supernerd’ Schultz and Brydon ‘The Shark’ Coverdale.

“What tends to happen is the Brits come out two or three times a year and then do a whole load shows when they’re here and then go home.

“I remember the very first series I did in July 2015 the questions in the final Chase were quite easy and quite short. So they were getting through loads of them. I came back to the UK in such good form really, because I’d just be powering really fast. Tons and tons of questions. It really gets you in the zone.

“Andrew (O’Keefe) is very technically good. He really knows what he’s doing. He’s good at putting contestants at their ease.

“But Australia has longer ad breaks so we have to cut it down by about three to five minutes. So Andrew doesn’t throw to me as often as Bradley (Walsh, host) does in the UK.

“I don’t get as much talking because they’ve got to cut down some somewhere.”

Hegerty got her break in the UK as a female winning against men on the local quiz circuit.

“Quizzing is this sort of small incestuous community and it meant that people were suddenly aware that there was a new female quizzer out there, and there really aren’t a lot of really good female quizzers,” she recalls.

“It’s very male-dominated but the thing I like about it is actually I’m always much more comfortable in a setting dominated by men, than one dominated by women. We just kind of understand each other. Maybe it’s to do with me being autistic but I’m perfectly happy to sit in a room full of blokes and just have blokey conversations.”

“My name’s Mark Labbett. You just beat me. Who are you?”

After one quiz win she was approached by a man who “I’ve subsequently described as the largest man I’d ever seen in my life.

“And he said ‘Hi. My name’s Mark Labbett. You just beat me. Who are you?’

“We chatted for a bit and he said ‘I just recorded this little pilot series, just 10 episodes, of a new show called The Chase and you should watch it. It’s going to be really good.'”

That lead to producer interest, auditions and the creation of The Governess character.

“Originally I was going to be called The Headmistress and then during rehearsals Bradley started referring to me as The Governess. I said to the producers ‘Can be called that?’ I think I said to them ‘It’s more kinky!’

“What I meant was that a governess is a free agent. She’s not got the Board of Governors breathing down her neck. She’s more like Mary Poppins, she can do anything she likes. So it was just to give me a bit more freedom than a headmistress would have.

“I think I intended to make her a bit more creepy than she is, but a friend of mine said ‘You won’t be able to sustain that.’

“She is a little bit based on my grandmother, a little bit based on one of my aunts. An American a couple of years ago compared her to (Harry Potter’s) Professor McGonagall.”

Since its launch in September 2015 the Seven show has been winning its timeslot, causing headaches for Nine in the all-important pre-News timeslot. Nine is rumoured to now be on the hunt for a replacement show, with no word how that will impact the long-running Hot Seat.

“Damn! When that goes out I’m going to look so stupid!”

While Seven network execs are happy to be winning the slot, Hegerty’s competitive edge is more focussed on the next round of questions and maintaining her reputation. She recalls a recent episode where a team got the better of her in the Final Chase round.

“We all hate losing,” she sighs.

“I kept getting things wrong. It was a very good team and they kept pushing me back. I thought ‘Why do I keep getting those things wrong?’ So sometimes you just have a brain fart.

“You just have no excuse except ‘I screwed up.’

“We’re all human and it’s extremely easy to ask us huge amounts of stuff we don’t know anything about.

“Sometimes you just get a set of questions that you don’t know and it exposes your weaknesses. Everyone’s got weaknesses. And you think ‘Damn! When that goes out I’m going to look so stupid!’ But then you just get back on the horse.”

The Chase airs 5pm weekdays on Seven.

8 Comments:

  1. mark from hawthorn

    I was lucky enough to appear in one of the earliest episodes of The Chase and Anne was our Chaser. She was an absolute delight. It was her first time in Melbourne. For the record, we got all four team members back but lost by three seconds. I’d encourage anyone thinking of auditioning to go for it, its a great experience.

      • Then what about Leanne Benbow who won the top prize off of Deal or Deal? There’s also Lisa Paton the first contestant to have got the chance at playing for a million on Million Dollar Minute. The article was most interesting.

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