Friday, July 06, 2012


It's been suggested to me that the 'Cambridge Memory Championship' joke is wearing a little thin now, and I should probably call it something different. Any ideas? I don't really want a location-specific name, because it'll probably move again. Some websites have called it "Ben Pridmore's Memory Competition", which really doesn't strike the right tone at all, so it really does need a catchy 'official' name.

Thursday, July 05, 2012


I thought I needed a definitive list.

This is every TV show (and a couple of other interesting things) I’ve been on for memory-related reasons, not counting local news or radio shows (which I’m on practically every day, it feels like), or things that I was filmed for but they decided not to use after all (I really wanted to be on the Gadget Show, gadget-hater that I am…).

It's a source of great pride to me that these have all come about as a result of people calling me and asking me to do it, and sometimes even giving me money for the privilege – I’ve never chased anyone to ask if I can be on telly, please. And they tend to cluster around the times when I’m not working or doing anything more important – I do still regret turning down Harry Hill because I had to work in my real job, especially since in all fairness my bosses would have been fine with me doing it, I just wanted to make a point to myself mostly that I didn’t put memory stuff ahead of what actually pays my bills…

9 August 2005
Steve Wright – Radio 2
This is worth mentioning, because it’s my first appearance on national radio, and they even paid me to do it! (Local radio give you a cup of tea) Also, the other guest on the show was Natalie Imbruglia, although I didn’t get to meet her, as she pre-recorded her interview. Still, fame at last, eh?

6 February 2006
Child Of Our Time – BBC
My first ‘real’ national TV exposure, including coverage of me at the 2005 World Memory Championships, and interviews in which I talked vaguely and uninterestingly about memory and learning techniques.

July 2006
Caldeirão do Huck – Brazil
Saturday night Brazilian TV got me an awesome holiday in Rio de Janeiro, and a big black cloak that they unfathomably wanted me to wear while memorising a pack of cards for an audience of excited and scantily-clad women. They let me keep the cloak, too!

May 2007
He’s the Memory Man – Current TV
The channel for people with short attention spans has a really rather cool ‘pod’ about me, that I think is still doing the rounds five years later. I’m the number one geek we all love, or at least I was at Christmas 2009!

19 September 2007
This Morning – ITV
Card-memorising with Philip Schofield (who’s one of my childhood heroes from his Children’s BBC presenting days) and Fern Britton.

October 2007
The Panel – Ireland
The Irish equivalent of Have I Got News For You, except that it has two extra guests each week who come on and show off their stuff. Why they picked me I can’t imagine, but being described as “the ultimate geek” was well worth it. Also, it got me a trip to Dublin!

12 December 2007
Blue Peter – BBC
The pinnacle of everyone’s ambition, to appear on Blue Peter! It was awesome, except that I spectacularly failed to remember anything and made a complete fool of myself. But hey, I got a badge! Socks the cat sat on my lap! What more could anyone dream of?

10 January 2008
The Mentalists – Channel 5
Completely awesome documentary about memory competitions, filmed throughout 2007 and focusing on me, Gunther Karsten and Ed Cooke. It portrayed me as the cool-and-relatively-normal one of the three, and involved a lot of following me around the world with a camera, but was worth it. Essential viewing for anyone who wants to see what our peculiar world is like!

29 January 2008
Extraordinary Animals – BBC
It’s safe to say this one made me more famous than anything I’ve ever done. Winning the world memory championship is okay, but losing a memory test against a chimpanzee? Awesome. Anyway, I would have won if it had been a fair contest. Or if I’d cheated by bribing Ayumu with a banana. Didn’t get to go to see him in Japan for this one, my half was filmed in the director’s house in London.

29 January 2008
Richard and Judy – Channel 4
The chimp thing was so exciting to everyone in Britain that I spent the day doing the rounds of local TV news and radio, culminating in an interview with Richard and Judy that evening. Richard greeted me with “Good to see you again, Ben. We’ve met before, right?” Actually, we hadn’t, but it’s good that he was playing it safe, not wanting to look stupid.

18 August 2008
Superhuman: Genius - ITV
Documentary following me around in 2008 (along with four other “geniuses”) – repeated so often that I got sick of seeing it, especially as The Mentalists was better. But hey, it’s the one that everyone has seen, and it’s the one that got me a reputation as a barcode-memoriser, so it can’t be all bad!

January 2010
Memory Documentary – NHK, Japan
I can’t find the title of this thing, but it involved me and Boris going to Japan, having our brains scanned and doing lots of filming, plus a lot of footage of memory competitions of 2009. The filmmakers, especially the director, are really really good at their job!

January 2010
Wonder Wonder – NHK, Japan
Sort of a sequel to the documentary, this consisted of showing clips from it to celebrities in the studio and asking them brainteasers about memory, and then bringing me in again (another trip to Tokyo!) to talk with them about it and take part in a sushi-memorising challenge.

28 October 2010
Where Did I Put My… Memory? – CBC, Canada
I still haven’t seen this one, actually. It features interviews with me and coverage of the 2009 World Championship.

April 2011
The Best House 123 – Fuji TV, Japan
The star, Ken Mogi, came to my house to talk about memory, and I demonstrated a couple of the usual tricks. Didn’t get a trip to Tokyo out of this one, but it was still fun.

10 September 2011
Epic Win – BBC1
Okay, I’m there in the capacity of contestant on a game show, and I’m not including my starring role on The Weakest Link in this list, but the difference is that a) the Epic Win people asked me to be on the show, rather than the other way round, and b) it was completely awesome and epic in every way. I memorised a lot of barcodes and lay down in a mockup till to have them swiped over me. Brilliant, and different.

14 November 2011
“Scale It Back” by DJ Shadow featuring Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon
(music video)
By far the best music video ever made, being an enactment of the mental images I create to memorise a pack of cards, and featuring me burbling unconvincingly about what’s going on. Well worth watching if you’re remotely interested in memory, as well as if you like really quite cool music.

28 March 2012
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
(promotional video)
A really rather cool publicity exercise for the modern art gallery featuring me memorising the layout, artists and works of art, and including animated sequences illustrating my thought processes while I’m doing it. Involved a great visit to Bilbao!

16-17 June 2012
LISTE art exhibition, Basel, Switzerland
I was a piece of performance art exhibited by Rubén Grilo, memorising details of the art fair and talking about the mental story I created to do it. It doesn’t get more modern-art than that!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Cambridge Memory Championship 2012!

A 2013 update - if you've been directed to this page looking for the 2013 event, please click here instead. Thanks!

It's getting later in the year, as I try to find the best gap in the memory competition schedule, but this year's Cambridge competition will take place on Saturday October 20, not in Cambridge, but in the same place as last year, the delightful Attenborough Nature Centre!

Most of what I said last year still applies, so here are the details again:

The traditional friendly memory championship that always takes place on the first Sunday in May in Cambridge, England, will this year take place on Saturday October 20, 2012 at Attenborough Nature Reserve near Nottingham. England. See the nature reserve's website here

The competition will only take place if enough people want to come! So please let me know right now if you want to take part!

The entry fee will be £30 (or free of charge for people who have never taken part in any memory competition before) - it might be less than £30 if there are a lot of competitors, because I only want to cover the costs of hosting the competition, not make a profit! This fee includes a hot lunch.

The venue is quite close to my house - free accommodation is available on my floor, if you bring your own sleeping bag. If you prefer a hotel, there's a nice place just over the road from me: Rockaway Hotel or plenty of guest houses in Beeston or Attenborough.

The competition will start promptly at 9:00am and finish at 5:00pm, and will be a national-standard 10-discipline championship (15 minute numbers, 10 minute cards, etc).

The nearest airport is "Nottingham East Midlands", but it's actually not very near Nottingham and it's difficult to travel from there to here by public transport. Birmingham Airport is better, you can get the train to Beeston (for my house) or Attenborough (for the competition venue) very easily.

Obviously, like all memory competitions, it won't stick to that "strictly nine to five" schedule, although we kept quite close to it last year. But please come along, it's always a fun day's memorising and chatting with like-minded individuals!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Vicious cycle

You know, one thing I can't do is ride a bike in the cool no-hands way that people do. Which is a shame, because one of my secret ambitions is to learn to ride a unicycle, and ride it to work on a daily basis. It'll look really groovy. But I'm pretty sure a first step to that would be riding a bicycle without holding the handlebars, and I'm sort of scared to try that...