Manuka Doctor is enjoying a coffee with one of the UK’s best-known "quizzers" and it is truly fascinating.
Anne Hegerty has graced our TV screens for over 11 years as one of the nation’s most well-known Gameshow members.
With her sharp dress sense and confident manner, Anne has contestants literally running for cover as she chases them down with a flurry of correct answers.
As well as her residency as expert TV quizzer, Anne has also featured on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and presented Britain’s Brightest Family.
But what makes this Brain of Britain tick? What tips does she have on keeping your memory solid in your sixties, and why is she a recent fan of New Zealand’s Manuka honey?
The real Anne Hegerty
What first strikes you about Anne is that she is nowhere near as scary as her TV persona makes her out to be! As she enters our photoshoot straight from filming at nearby Elstree Studios she is already in full make up, so it would be easy to assume you’d be in for a telling off - but she couldn’t be warmer to our team.
"I’ve brought three different outfits, three pairs of shoes, and matching earrings" Anne tells us cheerily, as we select a bright red dress for the first shots.
The 63-year-old, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 45 is clearly at ease with these new situations, thanks to finding fame in later life.
Anne first started her career in the 1980s as a reporter and feature writer at the South Wales Argus in Newport, before moving to Manchester where she worked as a ghost-writer, scripting two books for American children's author Richard Scarry.
But her love and hobby was quizzes and quiz shows. Anne appeared on TV’s Mastermind in 1987 with the specialist subject of songwriter Lorenz Hart. This was followed by appearances on Fifteen to One, Today's the Day, Are You an Egghead? and Brain of Britain. This journey led Anne onto the national quizzing scene, where groups of fellow quizzers compete in leagues.
Brain training for Quiz perfection
Keen to know the secret to Anne’s amazing brain, we asked her if she’d always been smart?
"Intelligence is being able to figure stuff out and being able to get my head around a new situation" explained Anne.
She describes her mind as inquisitive rather than photographic.
"I do have to put the effort into learning certain things."
"There are certain facts which I always find hard to remember in the right order, so for those I use mnemonic. Taking the first letter of a list and making it spell out a phrase."
Anne's method is like saying Never Eat Shredded Wheat to remember the points of a compass, but a lot more complicated! Her most recent example is how to remember the order of the Caribbean Islands using a mnemonic about a dog drinking gin and tonic!
This leads to a conversation about our team's own favourite facts, all of which – of course - Anne already knows!
She goes on to tell us her favourite fact, a quite stunning point which randomly connects four famous people who were all booked onto Pam Am Flight 103 which crashed in 1988, but astonishingly didn’t make the doomed flight.
It is an Anne-special. Taking four facts which appear quite arbitrary on their own and connecting them in a clever way.
Keeping a healthy brain and preparation
Anne tells us she has a certain way of preparing for quizzes.
"I try not to eat right before I perform on TV" she explains. "I mean I probably could, but I feel a bit more active and ready if I’ve not eaten."
Alcohol is also not recommended before quizzing, even though most of the circuit is held in local pubs around the country! Instead, Anne’s warm-up involves being put through her paces answering questions at high speed.
A busy TV schedule can take their toll though, as Anne told us:
"When I was performing in Panto last year I ended up losing my voice."
"Of course everyone was doing COVID tests and thankfully mine all came back negative. But it was a form of laryngitis from over working the vocal chords. I woke up on Christmas Day and it was gone totally, I couldn’t speak above a whisper!"
"I tried steaming my head over a bowl of water and then it occurred to me to try tea with honey, lemon and ginger and I was back after Boxing Day just missing two shows."
"I wish now I’d had some of your Manuka honey with me, as I’d have certainly used it! David my agent has encouraged me to keep some with me when I travel, so I will be well prepared from now on."
Anne is also famous at the home of Manuka Honey, as one of her biggest Gameshows is broadcast twice a day in New Zealand.
"I remember texting my fellow cast members saying I’ve found an island where we are all mega stars!" she chuckles.
Well Anne, if you are New Zealand’s most loved "import" then we must be its most famous export! Everyone at Manuka Doctor is very pleased to be working with you this Spring as part of our latest campaign. Keep an eye out for more tips from Anne Hegerty on the blog this month.