I know this much is true: Spandau Ballet stands for justice. The Guardian reports that a radio quiz contestant in Singapore who was disqualified for allegedly mispronouncing Tony Hadley’s name has gotten his well-deserved prize money — after some intervention from the Spandau Ballet singer himself.
It all started with the Celebrity Name Drop on Singaporean radio station Gold 905. Fourteen celebrities each say one word of the phrase “Gold 9-0-5, the station that sounds good, and makes you feel good.” Whoever can identify all 14 correctly — after some trial and error and paying attention to other listeners’ answers and scores — wins $10,000.
Muhammad Shalehan, a 32-year-old worker on Singapore’s underground railway, paid attention. And on 4/21, he called in with his answer: “Tony Hadley. Madonna. Maggie Wheeler. Ellen DeGeneres. Jim Carrey. George Clooney. David Bowie. Belinda Carlisle. Julie Andrews. Lionel Richie. Stevie Wonder. Meryl Streep. Michael Buble. Rebecca Lim.”
He was told that he had gotten 13 out of 14 names correct. But a few weeks later, someone else called in and won the contest — with exactly the same answers. And when listeners pointed this fact out on Facebook, the station claimed that Shalehan had mispronounced Tony Hadley’s name.
“The rules of the game requires callers to pronounce the celebrities’ name accurately,” they wrote. “In the case of Shalehan, he mispronounced Tony Hadley.” And when Shalehan emailed the station back, they said that they had “reviewed the relevant audio clip of your call and our decisions remains final.”
As a last-ditch Hail Mary effort, Shalehan decided to email Hadley himself (well, his manager). “A normal citizen from Singapore needs your dear help Mr Tony Hadley,” read the subject line. “I wasn’t expecting at all for him to reply,” Shalehan told the BBC. “I would have thought Tony Hadley had better things to do than reply to me.”
Apparently not! (Thanks, quarantine.) Because a few days later, Shalehan received a video message from Hadley. “I’ve listened back to the tape, and as far as I’m concerned, you pronounced my name absolutely correctly,” he said. “You might have had a slight accent, but as far as I’m concerned, you said my name correctly, so you should be entitled to whatever the prize was.”
“I did listen to it several times, just to be really, really sure,” Hadley tells the BBC. “And I thought — hold on, this guy is really genuine, it’s a lot of money, he’s done incredibly well to get to that point…To penalise him on a… well it wasn’t even a mispronunciation. So that’s why I said in my video — I’m going to back this guy.”
At first, the station refused to budge, even after Hadley’s video. Once the BBC got in touch with the station, which is owned by Mediacorp, they decided to offer Shalehan $5000 as a “token of appreciation for his exceptional commitment to the contest and loyal support for Gold 905.”
But Shalehan persisted. And today, the station finally agreed to pay the full amount and fund a shopping trip for Shalehan. “10k is a lot to a normal person like me. That is why I put in enormous effort,” Shalehan said. “Justice has been served. That’s the most important thing.”