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Chasers’ surprising jobs before finding fame as Britain’s finest quizzers

Before the Chasers were instilling fear into contestants on ITV’s The Chase, the incredibly smart bunch all had very esteemed careers.

While we know them best today by their nicknames such as The Vixen or The Governess, the Chasers had interesting and impressive careers in their own fields.

Among the ranks of the Chasers is a former barrister, a doctor and a Butlins employee who loved winning money on the quiz machines.

Now they’re some of the most recognisable faces on television and are watched by millions of people every week.

Here’s what the Chasers were doing before they joined The Chase.

Anne Hegerty – The Governess

The successful quizzer started her career in journalism

Though Anne may be at the centre of the stories now, back in the 1980s it was her who was doing the writing.

She began her journalistic career as a reporter and feature writer at the South Wales Argus.

She also worked for a time as a ghost-writer, writing two books under the name of author-illustrator Richard Scarry.

In addition to her long-running slot on ITV’s The Chase, Anne has made appearances on a number of other quiz shows, including Mastermind, Fifteen to One, Today’s the Day, Are You an Egghead? and Brain of Britain.

She has also starred in pantomimes and even taking part in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!

Paul Sinha – The Sinnerman

Chasers' surprising jobs before finding fame as Britain's finest quizzers
Paul Sinha is a trained GP

While his presence on the show may instil fear and anxiety into the contestants, before the show Paul Sinha was actually working to make people feel better.

Paul is a qualified GP having qualified in the 1990s after studying at Dulwich College and St George’s Hospital Medical School.

While at medical school he developed a taste for the comedic stage and refined his comedy while he was the co-editor of the medical school newsletter, popularly known as the Slag Mag.

Chasers' surprising jobs before finding fame as Britain's finest quizzers

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Paul began performing stand-up comedy more regularly while working as a junior doctor in hospitals in London.

Much of his early material drew on his sexuality and ethnicity, and he promoted himself as “the world’s only gay Anglo-Bengali GP turned stand up comedian”.

Much like his fellow Chasers, the quizzing expert has shown off his brain power on a number of TV gameshows.

He has appeared on most knowledge-testing shows, such as The Weakest Link, Are You an Egghead?, Brain of Britain and Mastermind.

Mark Labbett – The Beast

Chasers' surprising jobs before finding fame as Britain's finest quizzers
Mark Labbett once worked as a PE and Maths teacher

It’s no surprise that the brainy Chaser has an impressive intellectual history, having studied Mathematics at Oxford and obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Exeter University.

He also gained legal CPE and LPC qualifications from the University of Glamorgan, which is now the University of South Wales.

Mark started his career as a PE and Maths supply teacher at a secondary school in Newport, South Wales.

It was while working at Butlins holiday camp that Mark began his journey into the world of quizzing, as he used to supplement his income with winnings from the quiz machines.

“I discovered the quiz machines in the bar,” Mark told The Guardian in 2007.

“I really enjoyed playing and it was also lucrative. At the beginning of the week I banked my £55 wage, except for £3 or £4 which I played on the machines. By the end of the week, I’d have £200 in coins.”

Mark went on to become a regular quizzer on the circuit and on the TV game shows, appearing on Mastermind, Countdown, Brain Teaser and Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Jenny Ryan – The Vixen

Chasers' surprising jobs before finding fame as Britain's finest quizzers
Jenny Ryan has an incredible singing voice

Before Jenny was on The Chase, she took part in a number of other quiz shows.

Her first quiz show appearance was on University Challenge in 2003, where she helped the University of Leeds reach the semi-finals.

She also appeared on Mastermind in 2006, where she chose the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer as her specialist subject.

Other TV gameshow appearances include Are You an Egghead?, Only Connect, Weakest Link and Fifteen to One.

Outside of the quizzing world, Jenny is actually an incredible singer and made it to the live shows on Celebrity X Factor in 2019.

She was initially booted out of the competition at the judges’ houses stage but was eventually given a place after a public backlash and finished in third place.

Shaun Wallace – The Dark Destroyer

Chasers' surprising jobs before finding fame as Britain's finest quizzers
Shaun is a qualified barrister

Shaun Wallace, also known as ‘The Dark Destroyer’, actually started his career in the courtroom.

He is a qualified barrister and lecturer who still visits schools and colleges to educate students on all aspects of law.

Shaun was called to the Bar in 1984 and completed his pupillage two years later. Since then he has been part of hearings at the Old Bailey and several magistrates’ courts across the country.

Again, no Chaser history would be complete without a number of appearances on TV game shows, and Shaun saw his first success when he won Mastermind in 2004.

The quiz champion also appeared on Fifteen to One and The Weakest Link.

Darragh Ennis – The Menace

Chasers' surprising jobs before finding fame as Britain's finest quizzers
Darragh was contacted by the producers of the show after his own appearance

The most recent addition to the Chaser team, Darragh Ennis, is a neuroscientist and postdoctoral researcher at Oxford University, where he primarily studies the brains of insects.

Show bosses wanted to call him ‘The Professor’ due to his university background, but Darragh blocked the idea as he felt he had not earned the prestigious title.

Avid fans will know that before he was a Chaser on the show, he too was a contestant.

Sitting on the other side of the studio back in 2017, he and his team came up against his now colleague Paul Sinha.

Darragh gave an incredible performance and won a huge amount of money, so viewers were furious when his fellow contestants dramatically decreased the amount in the pot.

After putting in a sensational stint on the show, he was soon contacted by producers inviting him to come and audition, and now he has earned the title of Chaser.

Who is your favourite Chaser? Let us know in the comment section here.



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