My "5 Star" dream, Pt 1...
There's no need to read this. I'm just writing it down so I remember it.
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I've been keeping the limited details I had about this under wraps. I had to keep it a secret because I'd signed a confidentiality contract. That was months ago but very recently I received the call. A call directly from the production company "Sand Box Playtime". They were noted for previous TV hits like "You're cookin What!!" and "Star Power". Yes, I know what you're thinking : another reality TV show.
I had to attend the call back audition. It was to be recorded as part of the pilot with the working title of "5 Star". The auditions had been open to all ages over 18 who had a sense of adventure and fun. Sounds like me. So after the initial interview phase with the producer, who was a lot older than I had expected, I was selected to take part in round 1, series 1.
Eight teams of three were chosen. I was teamed up with two other 30-somethings. Tina (short for Christina) was from Brisbane and Jack (Short for Jackie) was from somewhere in Victoria. We seemed well put together even at this early stage. It was like they wanted us to get along and work well together. We all had similar family backgrounds and creative interests. Jack was an illustrator from a local newspaper and Tina was a musician who worked part time in an independent music store. I'm glad I was put with these two very attractive and fun women. Although, I must admit I was hoping to be put in the ex-navy captain's team. He seemed to have a very strong analytical background and would be good team member for solving puzzles.
We were all taken by boat from the studios to the steps of the forecourt at the Opera House. Looking up at the top of the stairs stood the host and a big "5 Star" logo lit by way too many flood lights. Below the logo was a table with 16 suitcases all neatly arranged - 8 had "5 Star" written in gold and the remaining 8 had "Low Rent" written in silver. Meeting us at the foot of the stairs was the director, production crew and 8 other camera men. One of these was assigned to us and we were instructed that he must travel with us at all times and never be more than 50 meters away from any one team member (unless other production crew were filming us at challenge locations). It was all starting to seem a bit real now. So many things were running through my head. What will I look like on TV, Oh God I hate my recorded voice, Damn I wish I had worn something a little funkier. Tina and Jack must have been thinking very similar things. At one point we all looked at each other and commented on how we'd probably end up getting a "Low Rent" suitcase. As it turned out, we would be able to choose which suitcase we wanted. We all agreed that "Low Rent" suited us and we had a chuckle about it. "Ok, let's go!" shouted the director. "and action..."
We had a rough idea of the premise for the show. It was a local version of "The Amazing Race". We wouldn't have to travel overseas (which was strange because part of the entry conditions were that we had to have a passport that was valid for at least the next 12 months) and most of the race would be on foot once we reached our destinations. The host seemed a little too excited as he explained the rules, not for our benefit, but for a TV audience. It was kind of sad how he was laughing at his own jokes. He kind of reminded me of Will Anderson. None of us found him that funny. He finished his rant, held the airhorn above his head and said "Competitors ready? Let's play 5 Starrrrrrrr!"
As soon as he sounded the hooter our selected team member, Jack, was off running up the stairs to grab our suitcase. Tina and I waited at the bottom with our camera man capturing every reaction. As Jack turned to run down the stairs she stumbled, didn't fall, but let go of our suitcase and it flew down the stairs breaking open and spilling the contents across the forecourt. Inside were three money belts containing a public transport day pass, an envelope (with the first instructions inside) and a mobile phone with the sponsors logo plastered all over it. The three of us were frozen for a moment not knowing what to do. "Stop stop stop!" yelled the director and we bust out laughing. Within 30 seconds we'd spoiled their opening scene. I don't think they were impressed. We had to do a re-take. Yeah, real reality tv.
Seconds later we had to pretend it was the first time we had seen what was in the suitcase. I don't think our reactions will be screened because I let out a big "Oh my Gawd! Look Tina, a stylish money belt. It goes so well with your hips."
Our first task: "Find the nearest Bunnings Warehouse and sell 100 sausage sandwiches to receive you next task."
One of the other low rent teams were off to the Local Mc Donalds. The difference between our clue and the 5 Star clue was that those teams had to prepare and cook a lunch meal in one of Sydney's finest establishments. We made the right choice and we were off and running to Bunnings at St Leonards... From this point on, the first 4 teams to complete their task receive a "5 Star" suitcase, the last four teams get a "Low Rent" one. Each week one team is eliminated, each week one suitcase is removed.
We arrived at Bunnings in style via Cityrail. The three of us were on fire, well, actually Tina was. Her sausages were splattering oil all over the place and the bbq caught fire. Fantastic TV. The whole fire alarm system went off and Bunnings was cleared. The bunnings supervisor had thrown sand on the bbq to put the fire out just as the fire brigade arrived. We were a little concerned that we'd lost a bit of time on our first challenge, but the firemen were kind and decided that they would help us sell the 100 sandwiches and then offered us a lift to the next check-in point. How could we refuse?! This was going to be fun.
Ok, I'm bored with this story now...'
Let's just say we were team 5 to arrive, the host joked about us setting fire to Bunnings and he laughed at his own joke again. We were once again a "Low Rent" team so we then had to drive a semi-trailor loaded with cabbages to the Woolworths distribution centre... in Melbourne.
Strangely enough the fire alarm seemed to be still sounding... I woke up and realised it was my alarm reminding me that I had to go to work today. Damn.