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This is a question That's me on TV!

Hotdog asks: Ever been on TV? I once managed to "accidentally" knock Ant (but not Dec) over live on the box.

We last asked this in 2004, but we know you've sabotaged more telly since then

(, Thu 11 Jun 2009, 12:08)
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Engineer dreams dashed
SpankyHanky reminded me of this one from my school days...

Local TV news show BBC Look East made a visit to my primary school in the late 80s to do a report on the soon-to-be-completed M1-A1 link road (now the A14). My class went on a field trip to the building site that morning and spent the rest of the day inventing apparatus to assist the road builders. We were given the incentive that the best ones would be showcased on the TV report the next day.

Looking at the materials I had available (a stack of firewood-quality timber, some crusty glue guns, a load of rusty chicken wire etc) I soon came up with my genius idea. I was going to craft a gravel-sifter which would sort out the different sizes of stones. I can't remember why I thought this machine would be useful, but it would be relatively easy to build one. I'd used my dad's tools before to knock together go-karts and tree houses, so I pressed on, twatting nails in all over the place and smearing red-hot molten glue all over myself in the process.

The device I constructed resembled a medieval instrument of torture. It was a box with three sliding drawers and an open top. The top drawer had large holes in the mesh, the middle had smaller holes and the bottom drawer had tiny holes, the idea being that the gravel would filter through and be sorted out into different grades. Apart from the wood splinters, it also featured razor-sharp edges where the chicken wire met the frame, hidden nails poking out from every handling point and the main bodywork looked uncannily like old asbestos cladding. I’d painted it in bright red metalwork paint, which wouldn’t dry and smelt dreadful.

All in all, it was a diabolical fucking death trap.

Lacking practical woodwork experience, I'd also failed to factor in that the drawers needed to be slightly narrower than the runners on which they sat, necessitating a colossal amount of force to move them. This problem was alleviated slightly by the application of huge quantities of industrial grease, but the mechanism was otherwise firmly seized-up and moving it required all the strength my ten-year-old arms could muster. Despite its obvious shortcomings, I was pleased with my creation so I demonstrated the treacherous machine to my teacher. Faced with a cornucopia of shit handiwork from my fellow classmates, he witheringly agreed it would be on the report.

When the TV crew arrived, they picked me to be the main focus of the report. I was so happy I may have actually wet myself. We did a quick rehearsal with Stewart White, the legendary East-Anglian news anchor but my wretched contraption refused to budge and I started to worry. Not that he noticed; he was as bored as you might expect and was going through the motions in front of the camera without paying much attention to the students or our work.

The heat from the lights was making me feel ill. Filming started and the cameraman moved round to my spot. Stewart had told us that the audio would be redubbed later and was giving us cues. He gave the signal to do my demo and so I tried to operate the infernal abomination. I was feeling extremely dizzy by now; the paint was coming off on my hands, I was getting high on the fumes and I was about to be humiliated on local television. Prepubescent rage built inside me so I gave it an almighty shove and to my surprise, the drawer moved enough to give the illusion that it worked as expected. Job done, so I thought.

The report was shown the following evening. I sat with my family to watch my moment of glory, my dad had even cracked open a new tape for our top-loader Betamax VCR to record the occasion. The reporters waffled on for ages about the actual road project but just before the end, it cut to our school and THERE I WAS, with my new pal Stewart White cheerfully narrating:

“These students have built tools to help the engineers; this one is a gravel sifter”

Accompanying his dubbed voiceover was a long shot of me dementedly tugging and thrusting at the dangerous boxy bastard, fighting hopelessly against the overwhelming friction as it rocked back and forth. Despite the voiceover track, I could still be heard clearly in the background audio, pleading with the equipment “Please work, come ON! It’s not fair! I hate this! I HATE THIS! Why won’t you move!?!?” Then they cut to the studio right before the part where the drawer finally moved, making me look like a desperate, useless failure. My dad looked at me despairingly before going to make a cup of tea. My mum seemed impressed with my “nice red box”, which did nothing for my crushed ego.

It took me a week to get the fucking paint off my hands, but my shame lingers to this day
(, Mon 15 Jun 2009, 5:10, 1 reply)
gets a click from me for your dad's reaction. lovely job, matey!
(, Wed 17 Jun 2009, 13:00, closed)

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