Is That Your Final Answer?
Eric couldn’t believe he’d managed to get a place on his favourite game show, ‘Why Do You Want To Be A Billionaire?’ He’d been applying for a spot on the show at regular intervals since the show began fifteen years ago, and finally his ship had come in. All he had to do was answer fifteen simple questions, and the money would be his.
Eric had read more books than you could imagine. He’d been the top reviewer for his part of the world for five consecutive years on his favourite website, Goodreads, and had read over ten thousand books in his life, if you counted the books he’d read before he’d discovered the site. And that didn’t count all the comic books he read – this was strictly hard literature we were talking here.
He had degrees in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, history, geography, film studies, philosophy, art appreciation, both English Literature and Language, and more languages than you could shake a stick at, but if anything came up about radio, he’d be stuffed.
Of all the topics that they had on the show, radio programmes was the only one Eric was weak on. He thought that the radio was an outdated means of entertainment, used only by those who weren’t good enough to get their own TV show. Thankfully his work colleague Ernie had agreed to be his lifeline, meaning that if he got stuck on a question he could call him up and ask him to answer for him.
And Ernie loved the radio.
If he wasn’t listening to The Archers or Seekers or one of the more popular game shows like Just A Minute, he was reading about them or listening to them on CD. He was an avid fan of all things radio.
To be honest, Eric had been surprised that Ernie has agreed to be his lifeline. He’d always poked fun at Ernie for liking the radio, and how he thought that the radio version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy was vastly superior to the television series, the movie, or even the books. But Ernie had agreed, so if all else failed Eric should be okay.
He squirmed in his seat under the hot studio lights, staring almost blindly at the presenter of the show, Talent McGuire. Talent stared back at Eric, a wry smile twitching at the corner of his mouth.
“So, Eric,” Talent oozed in a slightly Australian accent, “You’ve answered fourteen questions correctly. This is your final question for the jackpot prize!”
“Yes Talent,” Eric swallowed nervously.
“Well, let’s see,” Talent pretended to consult his computer as an animation whirled on the screen behind them, “This week’s top category for the jackpot prize is...”
Eric crossed his fingers, hoping it was something he was good at. Just so long as it wasn’t...
“...Literature!” Talent announced.
Oh no. Eric sagged in his seat. He hadn’t wanted literature to come up. He’d wanted to win this on his own. Once the question came up, he’d be forced to use one of his remaining lifelines – call a chum.
“Okay, Eric,” Talent seethed, somehow annoyingly, “Are you ready for your final question? Remember, if you get it wrong, you go home with... nothing!”
“Yes, Talent,” Eric swallowed nervously. The worst thing about the jackpot questions was that they weren’t multiple choice. You either knew the answer or you didn’t. Luckily, if he didn’t, he had his call a chum lifeline left and he could get hold of Ernie.
“Right then,” Talents teeth gleamed, “here goes.”
Eric cringed as the game show’s music boomed through the studio and the lights dimmed, leaving two spotlights – one on Eric and one on Talent.
“And here’s the final question, for the jackpot prize...” Talent peeked from behind his cue cards.
“Which radio game show, first airing in April 1972, was originally hosted by jazz trumpeter and bandleader Humphrey Lyttelton, with Jack Dee taking over as host following Lyttelton’s death in 2008?”
Eric looked panic stricken. He didn’t know the first thing about radio game shows, only the ones he enjoyed on TV. He’d heard of Just A Minute, but he didn’t think that was correct. Ideally he’d wanted to finish the show with all of his lifelines unused, but it seemed that was not meant to be.
“I’d like to use one of my lifelines, Talent,” Eric said reluctantly.
“Really?” Talent said smugly, “but you’ve been doing so well, all on your own.”
“I know,” Eric replied, “but radio isn’t my strong point.”
“Fair enough,” Talent turned to the camera, “and who are you going to call?”
Eric smiled, “My work colleague, Ernie,” he said.
“Eric and Ernie?” Talent grinned, “You sound like quite the double act.”
Eric chuckled, thinking back to Morecambe and Wise in the 60s and 70s. “Yes, I guess we are,”
Talent picked up the phone that sat on his podium – a phone that purely for show and didn’t actually connect to any sort of telephone exchange, and pretended to dial. A ringing sounded echoed through the studio as someone behind the scenes actually called the number.
After five painful rings, Ernie picked up.
“Hello,” his voice echoed through the studio.
“Hello, is that Ernie?” Talent asked.
“Speaking,” Ernie replied.
“This is Talent McGuire from televisions ‘Why Do You Want To Be A Billionaire?’ I’m sitting here with your good friend Eric, who is on the final question before he wins the jackpot prize.”
“Really?” Ernie said suspiciously, “How... interesting.”
“Yes,” Talent agreed, “It is. Now here’s Eric with the final question. You have sixty seconds to help him out once he finishes the question. Eric, over to you.”
Eric spoke nervously, “Hi Ernie, how’s it going?”
“Not bad,” Ernie replied, “You?”
“Not bad,” he replied, “You know, same old.”
“Glad to hear it.”
“Well,” Eric swallowed again, “here’s the final question.”
Eric repeated the question, “Which radio game show, first airing in April 1972, was originally hosted by jazz trumpeter and bandleader Humphrey Lyttelton, with Jack Dee taking over as host following Lyttelton’s death in 2008?”
Ernie was silent as the clock started to count down the sixty seconds.
“Ernie?” Eric said, “Are you still there?”
“Oh, I’m still here,” Ernie answered, sounding to Eric as if he was smirking, “Do you honestly not know the answer?”
“You know I don’t know anything about radio programmes,” Eric said, “Do you know the answer? There’s only forty seconds left on the clock.”
“Oh Eric,” Ernie sighed, “If only you hadn’t mocked my interested so much. Just because you don’t like the radio you belittled me in front of everyone – even in front of Ursula.”
“Who’s Ursula,” Eric asked, almost forgetting there was less than thirty seconds left on the clock.
“The receptionist at work,” Ernie said, “she was all ready to go out with me until you started to take the mickey out of me, saying that the radio was for losers and that it’s a dead format.”
“I was only teasing,” Eric said, “Please, if you know the answer, just tell me! There’s fifteen seconds left!”
“I’m sorry,” Ernie teased, “Maybe if you hadn’t ruined my chances with Ursula I might have helped you. Maybe if you’d respect my love of the radio I would have given you the answer. Unfortunately I’m not going to give you the answer so you can just go and fu-”
The line went dead.
“Hello? Hello?” Eric screamed, panicking that he was about to lose everything he’d worked towards on the entire show, “Ernie! What’s the answer? What’s the bloody answer?”
“Well,” Talent frowned into the camera, “It looks like Ernie wasn’t as helpful as you hoped. He didn’t give you an answer, so it’s all down to you. Do you want to take a guess?”
Eric stared blankly through Talent McGuire, trying not to cry. He didn’t know the answer, he had no idea what the answer might be. With a distinct air of defeat, Eric said the only thing he knew was absolutely correct;
“I’m sorry,” he sniffed, “I haven’t a clue.”
Talent stared at the poor defeated Eric, his frown slowly lifting into a smile.
“That’s... the correct answer!” Talent cried out, as streamers and confetti rained down on Eric’s head. He was completely confused.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
The answer to the question. The name of the game show. It was ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue!” talent beamed, “You’ve won tonight’s jackpot prize!”
Eric couldn’t believe it. He’d won! He hadn’t known the answer and he’d still won. As the audience stood up from their seats, applauding loudly, Talent handed Eric a giant novelty cheque for the value of one billion pounds, and Eric, overjoyed, began to cry.