A PROFESSIONAL FASHION BUSINESS WRITER who moved to Etal in Northumberland less than a year ago “in order to live somewhere with a more striking landscape than Kent“ went home even happier last week when he won £64,000 on ITV’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Complimented briefly by host Jeremy Clarkson as a “snazzy dresser“, Eric Musgrave was left sitting on a £1,000 pot overnight after answering without any problem the first five questions put to him.
He returned the following evening to initially add £3,000 more to his collection by correctly identifying George VI as the father of our current Queen and Twilight as the book in which Edward Cullen is the love interest of Bella Swan – but the questions were growing in difficulty. Eric answered the ‘Twilight’ question only after asking the audience, among whom his wife, Jane, was nervously sitting, for their opinion.
Still, Eric resumed his comfortable ability to tackle stickier questions. Identifying without hesitation “the central core of an atom” as its nucleus took him to £8,000; recalling the ‘Thriller in Manila’ world heavyweight contest in which Mohammed Ali beat Joe Frazier doubled his tally to £16,000; and having luckily revised ‘Oscar winners’ as homework for Millionaire saw him correctly identify Cate Blanchett’s Oscar winning character in the film Aviator as Katherine Hepburn. Quite suddenly he was on £32,000.
But Eric from Etal, fashion business writer and broadcaster and a former editor of the 132-year-Old industry magazine Drapers Record (now just Drapers) was not about to allow greed to divert him from a very organised strategy of acquisition: he was just an answer or so away from deploying his ‘exit parachute’.
The crunch question asked what symbol was alternatively referred to as an ‘octothorp’ and provided four options. After dumping two wrong answers via his 50/50 option, Eric phoned a friend (graphic designer Giles) who sadly could provide no further clue as to the remaining two: hash sign or percentage symbol.
A final fling with his ‘Ask the host’ option was slightly more helpful: Jeremy contributed the fact that while ‘octo’ indicated eight and that NINE boxes were created by a hash sign there were EIGHT distinct points created by the start and finish points of the lines of a hash sign.
“This is my Clint Eastwood moment,” muttered Eric. “Do I feel lucky?”
He obviously did. After further agonising deliberation he said! “Let’s be ballsy,” and chose the hash sign.
Correctly, as it turned out. But for Eric the writing was on the wall. His even better decision was to set his safety net at his current £64,000, removing the fear of complete failure as he strove to answer the £125,000 question. . . WHICH HE GOT WRONG!
Hurrying off-set to cheers and applause, he embraced Jane on camera, thanked Jeremy and was gone. . . £64,000 better off!
His general knowledge allied to a canny determination not to give in to greed recalled a previous meeting I had with Eric in which he told the Clarion that, echoing Groucho Marx’s famous observation, “I have worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty”, also applied to him, so retirement was not on the cards.
“Have broadband, will keep working,” he promised. “At least we seem to have landed on our feet at Etal.”
And with a better bank balance, thanks to a national TV game show!