Fr George Donaghy (OSA), who is based at Clare Priory in Suffolk, took to the stage in the first-ever edition of the new show, broadcast on April 27, but which was filmed at the famous Elstree Studios in north London, back in January. The show pits contestants against up to five of the infamous quizzers.
Fr George, appearing in his collar and habit, was among 10,000 applicants for the show in which he could potentially win many thousands of pounds.
When Fr George, currently part of the Diocese of East Anglia but originally from Birmingham, joined host Bradley Walsh on stage he joked about being a window cleaner and said he might spend any winnings on a Mississippi river boat cruise.
He then correctly answering multiple choice questions about Marmite and Hiccup the Hamster to win himself £2,000 with which to take on the Chasers before getting wrong a question about St Isidore of Seville – patron saint of the Internet.
He then chose to take on Chasers Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett and Anne ‘The Governess’ Hegerty. With a 25-second head start, Fr George just failed to beat the quiz experts to win his £2,000.
Afterward, Fr George said: “I did not go on expecting to win big money, I just wanted to see how I fared against the Chasers. I left school with poor qualifications in my first year of training for priesthood and religious life in 1998 I was found to be both dyslexic and dyspraxic. However, I was supported in learning how to deal with this by attending the dyslexia centre in Kensington. I ended up enjoying my studies and got a 2:1 from Lampeter via the Beda in Theology.
“Going on the show was about giving witness that priests and religious like quiz shows too and holding my own with the Chasers – and I felt I did that. The whole production team were very supportive of me being on the show. I felt Bradley Walsh was very good at putting me at ease laughing with me rather than at me. I am a massive movie buff and was more frustrated with getting the Margot Robbie question wrong than the Isidore of Seville.
“It’s always important for me to present my life as an Augustinian friar and priest as this is me, I am no different from anyone else – the only difference is the life choice. I believe I have been called to it in the same way others are called to marriage, nursing etc. I felt I was allowed to do this on the show and the response has been exceptionally positive. I felt it was a good witness.”
Fr George has previously served within the archdioceses of Birmingham, Edinburgh and St Andrews and Westminster.
Fr George has also recently published a book called, How in Heaven…? an autobiographical collection of 29 original poems that tells the story of his life thus far.
“Over the years people have been intrigued by story and asked me to get something in print and I found poetry the best medium for me,” he said.
It is available on Amazon Kindle for £4.85 and paperback from Augustinian press by email firstname.lastname@example.org paperbacks are £5.
Listen to Fr George talk about his TV quiz show experience on BBC Radio Suffolk here. Start listening at 1.35 hours.
Pictured top is Fr George Donaghy with Beat the Chasers host Bradley Walsh. Picture copyright ITV/Matt Frost/Shutterstock.