“IT would be really good to go on QI, but I don’t imagine that they’d ever ask me.”
The humble words of a 57-year-old quizzer and TV personality known as The Governess and Frosty Knickers from ITV’s The Chase.
Anne Hegerty, a former freelance academic proof-reader, has become famous for her knowledge and witty humour.
“I have a sticky sort of memory so if I read something it seems to go in and stay in. I was enquiring a lot of knowledge that way without even realising that I was doing it,” Anne told Quays News at Ellesmere Port Civic Hall after a matinee performance of Jack and the Beanstalk.
She plays the giant’s ‘evil’ sidekick ‘Fleeshcreep’ whose job ‘is to go around the villages of Giddiup and terrorise people and force them to pay their taxes’.
“It’s going really well, we really didn’t have much rehearsal. We essentially had less than a week and it’s just amazing how fast it’s all come together. We’ve got this excellent cast, and a very hard working crew who put it all together really quickly.
“On the morning of the first show, I woke up in the morning and I didn’t know half of what I was going to wear or what half of the props looked like but they’d got it all together in the time and the audience do seem to be enjoying it. I’m lucky I get to sing the best song in the show and I get massive cheers for it.”
The pantomime, produced by Anton Benson, moves onto Heywood in Rochdale and Radcliffe in Bury over the next fortnight.
“It’s kind of a little bit stressful because one doesn’t know the size of the stage, where the wings are, where the dressing rooms are, how’s it all going to fit together, am I going to be bumping into dancers? But it is going to be nice to have different audiences and different sorts of people – it’s going to be exciting.
“Christmas is the day I haven’t got any work to do, it’s my day off so basically I’m not going to do anything, and it’s going to be excellent.”
The former journalist explains that she got involved in panto’s after receiving a tweet – a platform she only joined after numerous people had ‘pretended to be her’ – from Benson last September: “I’ve been interested in doing panto for years if anyone will offer it to me. He [Anton] was looking for someone to play Cinderella’s evil step mother. I was like ‘yes absolutely’ and I went to his website and emailed him saying ‘yes I am interested, talk to me’.
“Before the panto finished last year Anton said ‘I will have an offer for you next year’ so I was delighted to do it.”
Whilst admitting she doesn’t get ‘mass of offers’ each year, she laughs and explains how she did receive a mystery offer this year.
“I occasionally do some work for Redtooth, who organise a lot of pub quizzes, and someone contacted them asking if I’d be interested in doing panto in the Lake District next year?
“I said ‘well can you tell me anything about it?’ They said no I couldn’t be told anything, it was a complete mystery. I wrote back citing two and a half times what I would actually be prepared to accept from someone that I knew. I said ‘if you won’t tell me who you are and what panto you’re talking about and if you’re literally going to be mysterious I’m just going to name a really high price’.”
Anne started quizzing in the 80’s when she did ‘really badly’ on Mastermind, but didn’t really get ‘seriously into quizzing until April 2009’ when she was told something she never knew about the high level National Quizzing Circuit.
She auditioned and took apart in the second series in ‘Are You an Egghead’ within 10 days of her first competition in the Midlands, where she finished third.
At the World Championships the following month she met fellow chaser Mark Labbett, who told her about the pilot series he’d just filmed.
In July, just ‘three months’ after she learnt ‘the circuit existed’, the woman who ran the circuit said ‘what do you think about coming a chaser?’ and it was clear to see Anne was still full of pride about being offered the opportunity.
“I remember I was like eermmmmmmmmm yeahhhh, yeah yeah yeah, that would be good.”
All of us have a memory that is synonymous with The Chase and it’s something that Anne says is her favourite moment out of 1000 plus shows they’ve filmed.
“I do have a special fondness for the one with the German skier because Brad and I didn’t have any idea that the question was coming up and we got completely blind sighted by it.
“I have to say I felt quite bad afterwards that I had cracked up because I was trying to keep a straight face but I remember the first thing they said when I came back down the stairs was ‘we’re going to keep virtually all of that in, it’s not going to be an outtake’.”
WATCH: Anne’s favourite Chase moment
Anne, who also features in the Australian version of The Chase, admits it is a ‘hot house atmosphere’: “We’re all really good friends. We really couldn’t do it unless we all did get on really well.
“If one of us is going through a streak of bad games, some people tend to ask ‘do you all sneer at each other and say I’m best’ but if someone’s having a bad time we will circle the wagons and be very supportive to them. It could be any of us, we can all have a bad run.”
QI might be a pipe dream, but Frosty Knickers hopes that presenter Stephen Fry may join her for a head-to-head Chase one day soon as part of her dream Celebrity line-up.
WATCH: Anne take on Quays News Cashbuilder challenge
By: Callum Matthews