In the latest of Jim VanderPump's fictional 'This is Norwich '98' series, its Daryl Sutch who comes under the spotlight, and this time the TV cameras are present. What is Mr Chips doing?
Ask any of the lads and they’ll tell you, “Daryl Sutch?” they’ll say, “there’s a guy who should have his own Quiz Show”
It’s true, I’m a bit of a William G. Stewart around Colney. I can’t resist the thrill of putting a tough question to a shower-full of footballers and watching them squirm.
“Which mountain range is the largest in the world, running from Venezuela to Argentina?”
“Not now, Sutchy” answers Iwan, incorrectly, turning his soapy back and bum on me.
“Er-Egh!” I exclaim, making the noise of the X from Family Fortunes.
“Give it a rest, Daryl” guesses Neil Adams, scratching at an arm-pit with the loofa.
“Er-Egh!” He’s way off!
“Get the f**k oota here, ya baw-bag, or I’ll put ya heed through that windae!” gambles Peter Grant. It’s a massive long-shot.
“It’s good but it’s not the one,” I say, pursing my lips as if he’s really close to the correct answer. Then add another, “Er-Egh!” for good measure.
They start shouting wild guesses at me, their frustration boiling over into throwing bottles of shower gel at my face. I withdraw back to the main area of the dressing room. I’m already dressed anyway, I’d only stopped by the shower on my way out to give them their third and final chance to make it into the last round of ‘Sutch A Lot Of Questions,’ a new quiz format I’ve been discussing- via a stream letters- with ITV.
Unfortunately, it’ll be another roll-over this week. That’s 10 in a row now.
“The Andes,” says a voice behind me.
It’s Daryl Russell, he’s sitting on the bench under his peg, quietly reading. I’d been focusing on the contestants in the shower and forgotten he was still in with a shot of winning tonight’s jackpot.
“Correct!” I shout, glancing to the showers to ensure that all the competitors can hear the dramatic developments. “Darel Russell nails it on the buzzer!”
Darel’s going ballistic, reading his book still, but in a frenzied fashion, the unbridled excitement of winning a quiz beaming back at me from the top of his head.
“For the first time in the history of ‘Sutch A Lot Of Questions’, we have a winner…” I stop suddenly and put an index-finger up to my imaginary ear-piece. “Wait a minute!... No! Controversially, I’m being told by my Producer,” co-producer, with yours truly, “that your answer was given after the time had elapsed.”
The audience gasps with disappointment. There are some boos, but not many, because the faithful regulars understand that rules form the very foundations of ‘Sutch A Lot Of Questions.’
“I’m sorry, Darel, you won’t be going through for a shot at tonight’s mystery-prize” (a handheld hoover).
“Aaaaaaah” sighs the audience, collectively. “I’m sorry, but we have to be fair. The same thing happened to Michael Watt last week”.
Darel is absolutely gutted, he turns the page of his book in the saddest manner you could ever imagine, like a man reading the will of his dead wife, or another rejection letter from a leading producer of TV quiz shows.
With a heavy heart, I make my way to the changing room door, which is also camera 1. “That’s all we’ve got time for, but join us again next week, when we hope one lucky winner will be going through to ‘Daryl’s Decathlon’ and answering all of the ‘Sutch A Lot Of Questions’- Goodnight”.
Camera 1 suddenly swings open revealing a string-vested Bruce Rioch standing in the corridor. You’re too late, Bruce, the credits are already rolling. Maybe you can be on next week’s show, speak to my assistant.
“Sutch, you’ve got a phone call. My office. It’s ITV.”
Lights, camera, action.
Here I am, where I was born to be. OK, today I might be a mere contestant, but it’s the first step in my plan of hosting my own gameshow. Next to me stands my opponent, a blue-rinsed-brigadier called Gladys, but opposite me is the man himself, Roy Walker. The God of Saturday teatime television.
If I can prove myself to be a worthy counterpart to him, I might get the gig on a regular basis. I wouldn’t mind being a sidekick to Roy, just for 6 months. Until the producers work out who the real talent is and kick him to the curb. I just need to show everyone that I’m a match for his natural wit and charm; everything he throws at me, I’ll catch and throw back, twice as hard.
Shit, he’s been talking and I haven’t been listening.
“Sorry, Roy, what was that?”
“I said, you’re a footballer, aren’t you?” he repeated, his twinkly, ice-blue eyes sending a tingle to the tips of my toes.
“That’s right, Roy, for Norwich City,” I say, a big smile for the camera and audience at home.
“Is it true what they say about Norwich City supporters, Daryl?”
Here it comes, our first exchange of banter. Hope you like dry land, Gladys, cos you’re about to get blown out of the water.
“What’s that, Roy?” I say, feeding him his set-up line, like any good sidekick would.
“They’re like one big family. In fact, they are one big family!”
There is a murmur of laughter around the studio, but I know I can top his gag.
“Haha” I begin politely. “Is it true what they say about silver-haired men from Belfast?” I have no idea where I’m going with this. Suddenly, I feel the studio lights burning into my forehead and I’m very aware of the cameras, the stage-crew and the rows of audience members, all staring at me.
“What do they say about silver-haired men from Belfast?” asks Roy, his smile beginning to wane on his chiselled jaw.
“…They fiddle with kids,” I mutter, my voice breaking on the ‘fiddle’, like a pubescent schoolboy, ironically.
After the longest 2 seconds of my life, Roy, consummate professional, decides to ignore me and turns to Gladys, glorious smile returning to wrinkle-free visage. I attempt to silently clear my throat while she waffles on about her son being a Catholic Priest, or something.
Thankfully, the quiz soon begins and from the off, I’m on fire, buzzing for every catchphrase.
“Look before you leap? Man with a garden rake? Smoke coming out of the toaster, now there’s a fire!”
“No, Daryl, you’ve to wait for the bell,” says Roy, his face reddening with a hint of irritation. “Please stop just calling things out”.
“Dicing with death?” shrugs Gladys.
“Er-egh!” I say. That’s not even a catchphrase.
“Riiiiiiiiiiight!” cries Roy, a little sycophantically.
What?! Never mind, still plenty of time to get back in this.
“It’s the Ready-Money Round!” Roy announces proudly, to a big ‘Ooooooh’ from the audience.
Eh? Regular viewers of Catchphrase will know, this is the final round. I take a quick glimpse at the scores- Gladys has a modest £1,250, and I have a modester… That can’t be right?! I’m sure I got one about the dog and the rabbit. ‘Rabbit-dog’. I think about mentioning it to Roy, but he’s too busy telling Gladys she’s got another correct answer. Give me a chance old woman!
“It’s good but it’s not the one. Daryl, you’re back in play.”
I squint up at the screen and try to make sense of the colours and shapes. Mr Chips is looming over me, doing something with a chicken. His every mocking, jerky movement a stab to my pride.
“Chicken and chips?” I say, hopefully.
“It’s good but it’s not right…”
I don’t let him finish, I have to get one correct answer! “Chips and chicken??”
“No, Daryl.” Roy snaps, his face turning deep burgundy. “What’s Mr Chips got in his hand?”
“Cock,” I say, desperately, thinking maybe it’s a male chicken.
Roy fixes me with a stare through blood-shot eyes.
“Strangling his cock. Beating his cock. Cock-throttling- Rock around the cock!” One of those must be right. I look back to Roy but, to my surprise, he’s now right up in my face. I can feel the warmth from the beads of sweat at his veiny temples and smell the cream of Bailey’s on his breath.
“13 years I’ve been doing this show,” he spits, his hand clutching the lapel of my jacket with a strength that only old men have. “13 f**king years. And you, Daryl Sutch, are by far, the worst contestant we have ever had. Now, I’ll give you one last chance, take another close look and tell me, what the f**k is the Catchphrase.”
“Errrrm,” I drum my fingers nervously on the top of my podium, desperately looking up at the screen. It’s no good, the whole thing has become a blur. Mr Chips is bent double- laughing. He’s laughing at me, his fat hand reaching down, grasping 1 bird, while 2 other birds are nesting in some sort of bush behind him.
I gasp. That’s it, I’ve got it! I know what the Catchphrase is. Finally, a chance for redemption. I clear my throat, look Roy right in the eye and confidently announce:
“Wank-off your cock!”