It was his first time on TV – and his appearance sparked outrage among the watching millions.
Why? Because viewers of The Chase felt Mike Holmes and his teammates had been robbed of thousands of pounds after one of their answers was ruled out.
Mike, 51, from York, won through to the final round on the hit ITV game show, screened on Wednesday.
With two other contestants, he was playing for an £18,000 jackpot. “We scored a good score of 18 and at this point I genuinely thought we had a chance of winning the money with a couple of pushbacks,” Mike told YorkMix.
Then came the controversy – with this question: What was the first UK song to win the Eurovision Song Contest?
The chaser – Paul Sinha – wrongly answered Boom Bang a Bang. On behalf of the contestants, Mike stole in with Puppets On A String.
But then host Bradley Walsh ruled it out, saying the correct answer was ‘puppet’ not ‘puppets’.
Viewers were not happy:
The inside story
The story made the Daily Mirror and several of the other national papers.
Now Mike has revealed the inside story. As soon as he heard the Eurovision Song Contest question, “I knew it was Sandy Shaw but was unsure of the song,” he said.
“Clare, the Scouse girl next to me, said Puppets On A String, which I answered to Brad. He originally said correct, and the questions carried on.
“Suddenly the adjudicator stopped filming and explained they could not accept as I had said ‘puppets’ not ‘puppet’.
“We argued with the adjudicator for a while – but she said due to so much money being at stake they couldn’t accept the answer. Even Brad joined in agreeing with us we should have the point.”
The adjudicator wouldn’t be moved, and they re-filmed it with Bradley saying “wrong answer”.
They carried on – and Paul beat them by a slim nine seconds.
It was an even more controversial decision, after chaser Paul had given the answer ‘waif and straif’ instead of ‘waif and stray’ to another question.
Bradley said “wrong answer” – but on this occasion the adjudicator “said they could accept Paul’s answer as it was an old English arcane word used as stray”, said Mike.
So is he fuming at missing out on a big payday? “To be honest we were not bothered at all,” he said.
“We all had such a great day. Even Brad and Paul came to see us all in the dressing room after with their sympathy and to thank us all for a great show.
“Yes £6,000 in the bank would be nice but I was never under any illusions we would win – and it wasn’t about the money my goal was to beat a chaser head to head which I did.”
Mike, who has spent most of his life in Bishopthorpe and now lives in Sherburn in Elmet with his partner and daughter, had never been on telly before.
As a “huge fan” of The Chase, he applied to the show – and went to Elstree in London for filming before Christmas.
With all this stopping and starting, taping the show took three and a half hours.
Mike described Bradley Walsh as a great guy. “He put us all at ease straightaway – just being like your mate who you go out for a pint with – and I felt totally ay ease then with no nerves at all.”