Big Heads

Big Heads is a new TV show on ITV – primetime on a Sunday evening, it is a version of “It’s a Knockout” but using celebrity “spitting image” type caricatures rather than king/queen costumes.

Earlier this year, I was looking for new jobs. My friends told me that for each job I applied for, I had to apply for a TV show. Well I got my job (yay!) but also a call from Lucy, one of the production crew from Big Heads to discuss my application.  We dicussed what was on it – fitness, work, OCR etc. and at the end of the call, she invited me to the first set of auditions in Manchester. After the formal part, we discussed Tough Mudder and admitted that it was my enthusiasm for OCR and “craziness” that got me through to the auditions.

Manchester was pretty crazy and came up very quickly. There was around 40 in this one and the production crew confirmed they were going around the country and doing the same thing over the week. So far over 3,000 had applied for the show and they were auditioning around 500 in these local auditions. They said we had done well to get this far, but are looking for 50 competitors all together –  40 for the show and 10 on stand by.

The audition was pretty straight forward – first showing us the concepts of the show and the first dummy head – “Pedro”. Then a bit (read a lot) of paperwork and then a small game for us all to play in groups – think school obstacle course – egg and spoon race, beanbags on the head etc etc. This was a chance for the production crew to see our “personality” in a game #competativenotcompetative. We were then individually  interviewed on camera for a few minutes discussing the application as well as trying “Pedro” on and moving around in it. I did burpess! (#Aroo!). And that was it for the audition – relatively short in all – maybe one and a half hours in total.

So a couple of weeks later, I received another call from Lucy and I got through to the show! My filming was on a sunday evening, they would pay for my hotel and travel expenses and I could invite friends and family to the filming to support.

Filming Day

George Lucas Studio at Elstree Studios
George Lucas Studio at Elstree Studios

Filming took place at Elstree Studios, Borehamwood – and more specifically at the George Lucas Studio.

Wow – it was such a long day – we were there for 8am to begin and was expected to finish around about 11pm. Filming Big Heads was from 7pm, whilst the rest of the day we had different bits of filming to do including our introductions, interviews, skits and transformations.

The first part of the morning we managed to introduce ourselves and talk about other experiences – a few had been on TV shows before – Come Dine with Me, Coach Trip, one had even won £50,000 on the Cube!

Biloil my handler for the day
Biloil my handler for the day

We then had more paperwork to fill in as well as a thorough reading of the rules. We were then introduced to our handlers for the day. They were there to be by our side, to take us to each filming location, feed , water and generally take care of anything we required. My handler was Biloil. He actually works with East Enders but does this from time to time.

So my day looked like this:

  • Costume and Big Heads fitting – and getting to meet who I was going to be for the day – Ed Sheeran! The rest of my costume was pretty straight forward (jeans, t shirt, check shirt). I also had a “Jerk Vest” fitting – basically a jacket with harnesses which are used for
    First selfie at Big Heads
    First selfie at Big Heads

    stunt professionals to be clipped in to various things. This would be used to connect Ed’s Head to me.

  • Transformation shoot – Basically we had to stand on a spinning podium for several shots – full length, head shot etc. Whilst also doing a voice over of who we are and where we’re from. We also had to come up with some lines about our Big Heads celebrity. Mine was something like “Wow, Ed Sheeran. As long as you don’t expect me to sing like him.”
  • Voice over – another interview with just sound – again, who we are , where we’re from, what we thought about our Big Head and why we think we would win. I dont think any of this made it to the show.
  • Skits – varous skits with celebs were shot. Mine was with Prince Charles who was mistaking Ed Sheeran for his son, Harry
  • Eating, waiting, chatting

The Big Heads Show

Ed and me
Ed and me

We went for a walk through of the Big Heads games around 5pm. And at that point I knew the first two games – travelator run to the doors and grabbing a microphone) would be a little pot luck. The shark paparrazzi game looked difficult whilst the sumo suit race to the podium seemed fun.

Filming Big Heads started at 7pm, with my family and friends in the audience. The result? Well unfortunately I was one of the first out – I didnt get through the VIP door and out in the first round. I was tripped over 3 times and I was finally taken out by a giant microphone. Visibility is basically none existent when the head is on. Think letter box slot and that is pretty much it. No peripheral vision (so didnt see that mic coming) and nothing above or below you – hence not seeing people on the ground tripping me up! So that was that!

What you didnt see on TV was having to wait around 10 minutes in the game whilst they were trying to fix “Rhiannas” eye – the head broke in the game and they couldn’t fix it – hence the plaster you see for the rest of the show. You also didnt see a bit of “gamesmanship” on the shark game between “Taylor Swift” and “Rhianna” who were basically hopping and pulling each other back – both against the rules! A bit of booing from the crowd did occur – all cut from TV.

So after I was knocked out I had an interview in which I talked about what I thought happened and who I thought would win (I was wrong!) and that was it. All done. The guys in the green room said I was unlucky, but my wipeout was awesome – When I saw it on TV, they were not wrong. It was so epic that I even got a mention on the Mirror website –

It was a great laugh and I would encourage everyone to apply for some sort of game show – whether a quiz show, game show or something active like Ninja Warrior – the whole audition and filming process is a real eye opener. The 1 hour on tv (well say 50 minutes after ad breaks) took nearly 4 hours to film!

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