The Chase: Winning gameshow allowed Sheffield student to pursue his dream

Winning The Chase allowed me to go to uni.
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During the final seconds of the show, as the timer ran down and the Chaser edged closer, my plans to return to Sheffield hung in the balance. We hadn’t scored particularly well, just 14 steps, but thanks to a few push backs we defeated the Dark Destroyer with barely a second to spare.

The reality of winning The Chase didn’t sink in for a few days, not until the money landed in my bank and I was able to return to Sheffield and undertake a master’s degree. It was both a thrilling and terrifying experience, but one that I will never forget.

Tom Burton won on The Chase and is now pursuing his dream in Sheffield (Image: ITV)Tom Burton won on The Chase and is now pursuing his dream in Sheffield (Image: ITV)
Tom Burton won on The Chase and is now pursuing his dream in Sheffield (Image: ITV)
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On Friday night the episode finally aired, over a year after filming it in London, and I am now over half-way through my MA in Journalism at the University of Sheffield.

We filmed the episode first thing on a cold January morning after a restless night. I met my teammates in the hotel lobby at 6am before we were escorted to Elstree Studios. After a much needed coffee and breakfast, the production team briefed us on the structure of the day. They also told us the running order, and when I heard I would be first up I almost fetched my breakfast wrap back up.

After wardrobe decided on our outfits (we had to bring five options for them to choose) and touched up our faces, we entered the studio. It was much smaller than it appears on tv, and the lights and heat only intensified my nerves.

Bradley Walsh came out and introduced himself, before it was my time to take to the floor. At the time I was working as a freelance writer, and I told Bradley I wanted to use any potential winnings to help put me through uni and become a qualified journalist.

Tom Burton and his team celebrating their win on The Chase (Image: ITV)Tom Burton and his team celebrating their win on The Chase (Image: ITV)
Tom Burton and his team celebrating their win on The Chase (Image: ITV)

Queue the questions.

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There’s no clock, no music, and no real sense of time during the cash builder.

I finished with a respectable £7,000, and then it was time to face the Chaser.

I was happy to see Shaun Wallace - A.K.A The Dark Destroyer - come strolling down the tunnel. He’s one of the original Chasers and a staple figure of British TV Quiz shows over the last decade.

Tom Burton and his team won on The Chase (Image: ITV)Tom Burton and his team won on The Chase (Image: ITV)
Tom Burton and his team won on The Chase (Image: ITV)

While the £3,000 low offer was generous, I was never going to go low. The £47,000 high offer was a shock. In the past I’ve watched the show and chastised people for playing it safe, but when you’re there, with the studio crew watching on and the Chaser facing down at you, the pressure is real.

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This was my money, my team, and after watching religiously for the last month in preparation, I knew it was too risky.

I stuck with the £7,000 I’d earned, and in the end my decision was vindicated.

After getting the first question right, I got the next two wrong, and would’ve been eliminated had I gone high. My heart was beating in my throat, and my entire body quivered. I managed to course correct and answer my remaining questions correctly and get through by the skin of my teeth.

I could somewhat relax after that, and watch Laura bring in another £4,000 and Annmaria add £6,000, either side of Pete being caught, leaving us a team of three to face Shaun in the Final Chase.

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The Final Chase is much harder than anything else on the show. It requires strategy and efficiency, and we didn’t perform particularly well in either of these. 14 is rarely a winning score, and I accepted we wouldn’t win, but I was happy my knowledge of Tudor monarchs came in handy for one question.

Shaun came out, but he stuttered early on. Quickly we’d pushed him back three times, and then after a small streak we pushed him back for a fourth time. The rest was out of our hands. He steadily gained on us, answering each question that came his way. It was going to be tight, but when the clock hit zero and Shaun stammered out an answer the studio fell silent.

On TV it’s edited to be one smooth shot, but at the end of the questions no one knew who had won. The producer came over and told us they needed to review the footage, to see whether or not he had answered in time. The five minutes or so that passed felt like an age.

We were told a decision had been made, but had to wait until the cameras started rolling again before Brad confirmed our win and we could officially call ourselves Chase Champions.

On the train back to my native Shropshire I couldn’t quite believe what had happened, but I knew that I would be heading back to uni and back to Sheffield again, my adopted city.

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