Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Techno Wizard

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The other night, I did an interview with CNN through my computer. Through the computer! I appreciate this might sound routine to some of you, but my level of technological understanding is equivalent to Keith Chegwin on a French awayday for The MultiColoured Swap Shop, holding his watch up to the camera and shrieking “Look! It’s a DIFFERENT TIME OF DAY here!”

  I had been filming all day in the normal way, making episodes of Only Connect for a new series due to start in January. I understand that sort of filming. There are cameras everywhere, with lights on them and people wheeling them around. I have a microphone pinned to my front, battery packs clipped to my belt, and a giant autocue in front of my face which (being too squeamish for contact lenses and too vain for glasses) I can’t possibly read, simply shouting the odd word where I recognize it and otherwise telling the producer I am “deliberately improvising to keep it fresh”. In that scenario, I know there are people looking. I know to smile and not to pick my nose.

  Through the computer though - super weird. How could they see me? How could they hear me? I have now watched it back online and finally believe that they could and can, though I’m not sure I’ll ever grasp how. I’ve had Skype conversations before, and been amazed and warmed by how they narrow the ocean free of charge when you’re missing loved ones from Vegas - but never with anyone I could see through the computer, and this was somehow turning into a live TV broadcast! I’ll put the link here; you might not fancy sitting through the whole interview, but it’s worth clicking for the opening bit where the interviewer has to tell me to look at the screen, a concept I grasp very gradually and then, clearly, make a decision to stop grimacing at it.

What a pro.

  (By the way, I’m not sure where the interviewer got the idea that I have a flat in Cardiff. David Tennant might, but low-level BBC 4 presenters are grateful to get a hotel room.)

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Clyde at 10:58 pm on December 6th, 2009

Oh, that was brilliantly entertaining! I loved the bit when you suddenly remembered to smile.

Fitch at 12:45 am on December 7th, 2009

Victoria, that was brilliant. You are one cool lady. You shine!

john at 1:23 am on December 7th, 2009

Hey Vicky,

Enjoyed d interview, mais, whats d story about poker not being addictive? Ho, Ho, Ho!

verily at 11:58 am on December 7th, 2009

Great interview m’dear; you came over stunningly and (of course) very professionally

Jim at 2:54 pm on December 7th, 2009

You came off well. Couldn’t stand the presenter, talk about patronising. Wasn’t even sure she was listening to your answers.

Andy W at 5:27 pm on December 7th, 2009

FFS fnskjfnfn this is the third time I am typing this !  Life tilt !  But I agree with what you say about things you have less control over being more addictive.  I just can’t stop stressing over football when I have no control over it whatsoever and I fully understand, rationally, that whether one bunch of overpaid mercenaries beats another really shouldn’t affect my mental state at all. 

But it’s cheaper than roulette I suppose.


PS Yes I thought interviewer was patronising too.

Dan at 9:21 pm on December 7th, 2009

It was brilliant.  I’m a bit worried about this technology that can see you through your computer screen though??!!!

steve at 10:27 pm on December 7th, 2009

Although it must be terribly flattering (for a while) Victoria, don’t the compliments get at bit tiring? hee hee!

Maybe people could respond to the content of your blog more?
p.s. you’re well fit lol

adam at 12:13 am on December 8th, 2009

so, there you were playing faro in a swanky club, a very interesting doc though i always crave more depth and less style.
as to your excuses for not doing strictly, celebrity status and dancing ability do not appear to be prerequisites, and they should be eager to have you, it would be a whole new demographic. i reckon it would be a great experience, and you do seem to crave experiences.

Victoria Coren at 1:19 am on December 8th, 2009

Andy - you’re telling me. They were showing the Rangers match in the Vic tonight. I was delighted…. for a brief while. Then it was just demoralizing. When it finished, they started showing a replay of the match v Middlesborough. I was actually winning a fair amount tonight; I wondered if Fred had requested the channel. I came home, for safety’s sake.

David Bodycombe at 3:45 am on December 8th, 2009

My grandmother used to get dressed up to watch the TV in the evening because she thought that if she could see the man on the telly, he could see her. Little did she know she’d eventually be proven kind of right.

In other news, why can noone spell Middlesbrough (and, for that matter, Teesside) correctly? Is it some mass wind-up against the North-East I’m not privvy to?

Andy C at 11:29 am on December 8th, 2009

Just finished reading your book. I blimmin’ loved it. The way you wrote about yr dad was specially lovely. And the bit about Devilfish’s 6 year old made me spit beer out of my nose. Does that count as a review? Yes?/No?

Victoria Coren at 12:10 pm on December 8th, 2009

Thanks very much Andy, I’m really glad you liked the book.

DB, my fury at having spelt Middlesbrough incorrectly (if it really doesn’t have two o’s), and DOUBLE fury that you’ve pointed it out so I can’t sneakily nip into the system and change it without anyone knowing, is mitigated only by the fact that I don’t believe that’s how you’re supposed to spell “privy”...


Pete at 2:16 pm on December 8th, 2009

Hi Vicky,
Just bought your book for my Dad’s girlfriend for Christmas - my Dad and I have been addicted to Poker for about 2 years now and my Dad’s missus doesn’t quite get it!  I’m hoping your book gives her an insight of Poker that she can maybe relate to…?

Would it be cheeky if I read the book 1st before I wrap it up??

Hope you have a great Christmas x

Steven R at 2:25 pm on December 8th, 2009

Two things made me laugh, the first being when she questioned whether you were lucky and loaded (obviously she has no idea) and the second when you said Doyle Brunson had some good ideas on poker strategy.  I have just finished your 2nd book and I am very much looking forward to the 3rd in about 7 years time.

Andy W at 3:27 pm on December 8th, 2009

LOL.  At least in the Vic you don’t have to listen to a thousand Middles-howeveryouspellitIdontcare fans singing “So ****ing easy, this is so ****ing easy”.  God I hate football sometimes.

Andrew at 12:09 am on December 9th, 2009

‘Look down the barrel - if you will’.  I can’t stand her either - must be a good job though with the viewers writing all her interview questions for her.  Mind - she didn’t get to have a chair - CNN must be cutting back.

If it’s any consolation, I had no idea they could do that either.  But then I’ve heard of skype but haven’t a clue what it is so you are a tech whizz-kid compared to old greybeards like me.

Pause for mandatory compliment - that first smile was adorable!

As to Middlesbrough - just call them smog monsters and avoid any possible offence!

Phil at 6:27 pm on December 9th, 2009

Thoroughly entertaining interview Vicky. You should do more TV; you have a great voice for it. Looking forward to the new series of Only Connect; I considered putting a team together, but quickly realised that I’m probably not smart enough!

Sam at 10:09 pm on December 10th, 2009

Any chance of a bit more hand analysis in your poker column, vicky?  I don’t know where else to say this really.  It’d be nice if it was kind of an analogue to the chess/bridge sections, discussing interesting games and situations.  There have been a lot of very interesting pots going down in the ultra high stakes world lately, if nothing else.

Perry at 12:52 am on December 11th, 2009

So she was patronizing, you seemed not to have noticed (something called professi…..professiz…nah can’t think of the word.)

I am young (sorry, couldn’t think of a better term) so I’m a technophile. But even I cannot understand how Skype works without linking it to magic. The first time I used Skype video was to speak to a pal who bought a laptop for poker, both of us mature adults, himself a family man. But I was amazed by the magic eye so the only thing I thought of doing was showing the victory sign at him, turned out not to be original, as he thought the very same idea. Then we gawked at the screen in amazement, then felt uncomfortable, then turned the webcams off.

P.S I always thought it was two o’s in MIddlesbrough, perhaps it was just the club misspelling borough!

Chris Grundy at 1:10 pm on December 11th, 2009

I am also trying to finish your book before I wrap it for my son Ben for Christmas.  Next time you see him Vicky, you must ask him if he has read it yet, as he says that he only reads books about Man Utd !!  Good luck in 2010 !

Sam at 8:53 pm on December 12th, 2009

I hope he’s getting you a hell of a present mr grundy!  i saw a lifetime graph of his winnings the other day, and wow!

Victoria Coren

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