Ryan’s Life In Game Shows, Episode 16: Conquering A Mountain – Part 1 of 3

Hello!

This week sees the first part of a new three-part post from my regular guest blogger – and game show contestant / game show enthusiast / game show host – Ryan Vickers. And this time, our Canadian friend, who you can follow on Twitter by the way (@RealCanadaMan), gets all impressively bilingual.

So… Emporte-le, Ryan!

Which means “Take it away, Ryan!” 

(Well, it does according to Google Translate anyway.)

==================================================================

My Life In Game Shows.

Episode 16: Au Suivant, 2019

“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down!” 

Tubthumping by Chumbawumba

Dear reader, when I had last written you, I figured this might have been the end. Luckily, it wasn’t!

In the summer of 2017, I had a number of whirlwind game show experiences. One of them was seeing a new show (to me at least) called Au Suivant, which was a French-Canadian adaptation of the original Italian show Avanti Un Altro! Loosely translated it means “NEXT!”. Think of it as Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but with a line up. This all boiled down to a warm summer’s night when I found myself at the Radio-Canada studios to watch a taping in August of 2017. I was fascinated by this show (more than you know!) and after the taping, I vowed to apply for the next season.

Quick back story: we lived about 90 minutes’ drive from Montreal when I grew up which means we had all access to Quebec TV channels, most of whom adapted formats from the USA with smaller budgets. I dined on such shows as Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, Jeopardy!, Street Smarts, Supermarket Sweep and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, helping me to improve my French as life went along. I was a bit nervous to apply and when I finally did, my love of Fort Boyard was not to be, as it was cancelled before I had the chance to apply. I did have auditions for shows such as Le Cercle and Paquet Voleur which required a long six-hour ride to Montreal but they didn’t pan out.

So, it happened this past Easter, in early April 2018 that the contestant call for Au Suivant went out. I wasn’t about to miss my chance. I put together an audition tape.

PRO TIPAs others may have said, make sure that your audition tape is sharp and gets across your personality. I put in an interesting tidbit (I am one of the coaches for Team Canada for ‘sport stacking’), showed my love of travel (by saying hello in front of one of the TV station affiliates when I was away on vacation a month previously) and made myself stand out (I explained why I should get picked by sitting on my staircase, talking clearly with my scuba diving gear in shot).

Take a look at my interview video! I’m not above saying that I did about twenty takes before I got the right wording on the stairs! I also filled out the application and sent it off.

My phone rang about three weeks later when I was sitting in our staff lounge. I read the name on the inbound call and raced to my classroom to find out that I had booked a tryout! And unlike last time, I auditioned for them via FaceTime!

PRO TIP: I had lead time of about two weeks for the audition. I made sure to organize two key things. Firstly, I arranged a room at my workplace that was going to be extremely quiet. Secondly, I recruited a French-speaking friend to simulate the interview – both the “personality” section and the “knowledge” section.

==================================================================

And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next week, we find out whether Ryan’s audition is successful or not (spoiler alert: it is), and exactly what homework he did in preparation for this, his latest game show appearance. 

Jusqu’à mardi prochain!

Which is “until next Tuesday!” in English. 

I think. 

Another birthday, and a Big Announcement!

Hello! Well, here we are – six years old today.

It certainly doesn’t seem like six years ago that I took a deep breath, and nervously sent my first ever blog post out into the world. But it was. And since then, here at HowToWinGameShows.com, there have been almost 300 blog posts, 28 interviews, more than 400 tweets, 1 guest blogger and one eBook which combines some of the site’s best content – and a lot of new, just-for-the-eBook content – into one volume.

And there’s plenty more to come! In fact, today I’d like to make a VERY SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT. May I have a drum roll please?

Thanks very much, Invisible Cartoon Drummer.

Today I’m announcing a second How To Win Game Shows eBook!

It’ll be a sort of mini-memoir: a compilation of all my behind-the-scenes adventures in the game show industry. In one capacity or another, I’ve worked on some 16 game shows over the years, and I’ve got stories from all of them. There’s also ‘the ones that got away’; those gigs that I nearly got… but didn’t. In the book, I’ll also go into detail about all those times, when I came so close and yet so far…

So, if you’re a game show aficionado (and I’m assuming you are, or you wouldn’t be here) this will be a unique and personal glimpse behind the scenes into what really goes in to making some of the shows we love so much.

… and, in true How To Win Game Shows style, a few tips, hints and strategies just might find their way in there as well.

The book’s coming together, and I’m looking at a release date some time in the second half of the year, after I get Being Basil – and a couple of other creative projects – finished and out into the world. Of course, I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the new book here, and on Twitter and Facebook, but if you’d like a more personal reminder when the time draws near, please do consider joining the specific email list that I’ve set up for the eBook side of things, by emailing me at author@TheStephenHall.com.

As yet, I don’t have a title for this book… and I thought I might consult you about that.

What do YOU think would make a good title for a book about my various behind-the-scenes adventures as game show question writer, game show adjudicator, game show producer and would-be game show host?

Please leave a reply below, and let me know your thoughts – any and all contributions gratefully received!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Tiger Mum’, Cheryl Toh! Part 2 of 2

Hello! Last week saw the first part of my interview with the latest addition to The Chase Australia, Cheryl Toh, AKA The Tiger Mum. Last week we covered her background in quizzing, and the lead-up to this gig. Today we’ll focus on her new role, what her family thinks of it, and just how she keeps those mental muscles in shape for – 

Yes, alright – fair enough Cheryl.

I’ll get on with it.

==================================================================

SH: What do your family think of the persona you’ve adopted for the show? How much of a Tiger Mum are you in real life?

CT: My family likes the nickname. It was either me or my father who first suggested it. Many women, especially in the Asian community, regard it as a compliment to be called a “tiger mum”. For me, I am having a bit of a laugh at myself. While tiger parents have many great qualities, it wouldn’t hurt them to have a bit of a laugh at themselves occasionally too, I reckon. My kids will have to answer your second question! My sister-in-law Yvonne leaves me in the dust though – she makes her son do 5 hours of homework every day.

SH: What sort of study or training do you do for the show each week?

CT: I read eclectically, go to a couple of pub quizzes, watch quiz shows and play on a few quiz apps. I have a very smart English friend in Harrogate (a surgeon) called Jon who sends me lots of challenges. He loves the British version of The Chase and hopes he can see one of my episodes someday. Sometimes I’ll trade questions that I think are challenging or interesting with my mates (including Issa) on email or WhatsApp. My good pal Alan talks a fair bit about sports, current affairs and movies and I pick up plenty of tidbits from him.

SH: And finally… (I understand entirely if you’d prefer not to answer this, but I feel I’d be neglecting my duty if I didn’t ask)… are there any tips you can share for any aspiring contestants wanting to go up against you on The Chase?

CT: Do your homework! That’s good general advice not just Tiger Mum advice. Like most things in life, you will do better on quiz shows if you have prepared yourself mentally. Watch lots of episodes of The Chase Australia, and read Stephen Hall’s marvellous book which covers many practical aspects of quiz shows. Going on a quiz show is not an experience that many people have, and reading this book gives you insights from people who have actually done it, and won! I do hope to meet many more contestants, as I’ve faced such lovely and interesting people so far. Andrew (O’Keefe) and the crew do an awesome job of making the day a fun and memorable experience for contestants. I think 99% of them go away having had an absolute blast, plus they get the chance to enjoy watching themselves on national TV later with family and friends. I certainly appreciate their courage, good humour and sportsmanship.

==================================================================

I’d like to thank Cheryl for giving so generously of her time… and for her great tips, her very kind words, AND for plugging my book into the bargain. Completely unsolicited, I promise! Cheryl’s a very entertaining Chaser, and if you’re in Australia, you can catch her on The Chase Australia, 5 PM weekdays on the Seven Network… 

Which I most highly recommend you do.

See you next time!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Tiger Mum’, Cheryl Toh! Part 1 of 2

Hello, and welcome to my first EXCLUSIVE interview for 2019. Today, I’m really pleased to bring you my chat with the newest addition to the cast of The Chase Australia… Cheryl Toh, otherwise known as The Tiger Mum!

As you’ll see, I was aware of Cheryl’s presence in the quiz community, and so was really pleased to see her pop up as the newest Chaser in the Australian version of the hit quiz show. I’m very grateful to Cheryl for taking the time to chat with me… now let’s see what she had to say!

==================================================================

SH: You have quite a background in trivia and quizzing – was it through Martin Flood that you and I met?

CT: I haven’t actually had the pleasure of meeting you in person, but yes, we first got in contact via Marty Flood. I was already a big fan of yours having watched you blitz it on Temptation. I also really enjoyed your work on The Hollowmen. You’re a VERY funny guy!

SH: Thank you, you’re very kind! Have you always been interested in trivia, and quizzing? Where did your interest come from?

CT: I started quizzing properly in my mid 20s. It came about by chance. I was living in Melbourne at the time and decided to go along to a Temptation audition, for some fun. To my surprise, I answered most of the test questions correctly and was contacted quite quickly to appear as a contestant. I was only on one episode but won over $8000 from a lucky Vault spin and some prizes from the Famous Faces board. The experience taught me to back myself on answers more confidently, as I hesitated in the final 60-second round and it cost me the game. I also discovered quiz shows are really fun! Although I didn’t quiz much before that, I really liked studying throughout my school years, so the interest in learning was there from quite a young age. I credit my excellent primary school teachers for enthusing me about knowledge, as well as my parents who emphasised the importance of doing well in my studies.

SH: And if memory serves, you appeared on The Einstein Factor – what was your special subject?

CT: You are right, I was on The Einstein Factor and my special subject was the TV series Poirot. I lost to Andrew McDonald, who went on to become the Series 4 champion.

SH: What did you learn from that experience?

CT: That Andrew knows a LOT about the Luftwaffe and heaps of other stuff! I picked up that buzzer technique (timing) is very important, and that in most quiz shows, you must stay very focussed as the outcome can change in a matter of seconds.

SH: Back in 2015, you were a contestant on Million Dollar Minute – how did you go there?

CT: I won $75,000 on Million Dollar Minute.

Cheryl on ‘Million Dollar Minute’

SH: And what did you learn from that experience?

CT: It was really important on that show to get into a good rhythm with the buzzing. I also found from my own experience, and from watching others who’d gone on this show before me, that staying calm helps one’s performance. I learned that I didn’t have the most resilient attitude towards failure, and I have tried to change for the better since then.

SH: Before The Chase came along, you had been a lawyer in your professional life. Did that help prepare you in any way for your role in the show? If so, how?

CT: Oh I’m still a lawyer Stephen! I still have a regular day job like most people. 🙂  I don’t know if training in any particular field gives you an advantage in quizzing. It’s true though that lawyers are used to reading a lot. And I think reading widely is one of the most effective ways to learn trivia, so maybe there is a connection there – not so much with the legal profession but rather with jobs that require a good deal of reading, because the habit might make you faster at reading and processing that information.

==================================================================

That’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next week, we discuss the origins of Cheryl’s Tiger Mum persona, she reveals her training regimen for being a Chaser, and shares her Two Top Tips for anyone wanting to be a contestant on the show. Until then, then!  

 

 

The eBook’s now (finally) available on Amazon!

Well, it’s been a looong time coming, but I’m very happy and proud to announce that my eBook How To Win Game Shows: Winning Tips, Tactics and Strategies from Game Show Producers, Hosts, Writers… and Champions! is now finally available on Amazon.

You can find it right here.

It’s cheaper than it’s ever been before, (now at $5.99 AU) and it’s been updated, re-formatted, and optimised for tablets, phones and Kindle e-readers. It’s chock full of tips, hints, photos, gags… and heaps of links to a whole lot of video content.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve learned an awful lot about self-publishing over the last couple of months, and all of that new knowledge has been poured into this relaunch of the book. It is priced at $5.99 AUD on the Australian Amazon store, and at comparable prices in the other Amazon stores around the world. However (as I also mentioned in my last post), I will be doing a free-for-a-limited-time promotion in the near future, which I will announce here on the blog, and on the HowToWinGameShows Twitter feed and the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page too.

In the meantime, if you’d like to sample the book, I’d suggest heading over to Amazon and clicking on the “Look inside” tab just above the cover image. That’ll give you a look at the first three chapters.

You can also grab a free bonus chapter of the book (16 pages) which organises some great tips show by show, if you join my new author mailing list. You can see the signup form on this page, just over to the right.

Thanks to all the wonderful people who’ve bought the book, those who’ve left reviews over on Amazon, and everyone who helped me bring it into existence.

Next time, we’ll be back to business as usual here at the blog… with my first EXCLUSIVE interview for 2019!

Until then, then!

 

‘How To Win Game Shows: The eBook’ is about to be relaunched, and it’ll be FREE for a limited time!

Hello!

I have some exciting news to share with you today, which will be the culmination of quite a lot of work I’ve been doing behind the scenes…

But first, please come back with me, to September 2015, when I wrote and released How To Win Game Shows: the eBook.

It wasn’t just a collection of some of the best interviews from this site, along with my personal game show story; it also contained a number of new chapters that I wrote specifically for the book, along with new pictures, a lot of gags and numerous links to various videos.

I got myself an account at an online store – e-junkie.com – uploaded my book to it (in pdf format), and made it available to buy through this page, right here on the blog. I plugged the eBook here, I plugged it on Facebook and Twitter, I plugged it on radio, I plugged it on radio again, I plugged it on TV, and I experimented with a couple of different price points for the product.

Just between you and me, I did not sell many copies.

At all.

I now know that wasn’t the best way to do things. Doing what I did is not how you properly self-publish and promote an eBook.

Over the last few months, I’ve been on a mission to learn all I can about self-publishing the right way, as I prepare to release my second eBook – my behind-the-scenes diary of my year as Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers Live. 

But all of my research into self-publishing – the courses I’ve taken, the books I’ve read, the podcasts I’ve listened to, the videos I’ve watched and the forums (fora?) I’ve joined – has made me realise all the things I did wrong with How To Win Game Shows: the eBook the first time around.

So, dear reader, I’m revisiting it… and this time, I’m going to do it right.

How To Win Game Shows: The eBook (3rd edition)

  • will be available on Amazon, in proper eBook format.
  • has been updated and expanded
  • has been reformatted, to flow more smoothly
  • has been re-edited and re-proofread
  • will be significantly more affordable… in fact, for a limited promotional period (which I’ll obviously let you know about), I’m even going to make it FREE! 

The relaunch will be happening in the next couple of weeks, so keep watching this space for more details. Or, if you’d like a more personal heads-up, please consider joining my new mailing list, which I’ve set up especially for the eBook side of things. Please just email me at author@TheStephenHall.com, and I’ll add you to the list right away.

And all you wonderful people who’ve already bought the book will of course be getting your free 3rd edition copy, as per the terms of my “future-proofing” guarantee.

Thank you, as always, for your interest and support. I’m really excited, and I can’t wait to get the new and improved version of the book out there, and into the hands of (or at least onto the devices of) as many people as possible!

I’ll keep you posted!

 

 

 

‘The ConTest’ – Part 2 of 2

Hello, Happy New Year and welcome to the first official post for 2019! And this week, it’s the conclusion of my Patented How To Win Game Shows Reminiscence about my time working on The ConTest in late 2006. 

When I left off last time (which was also last year, as it happens), I’d mentioned that the whole writing process was done remotely, and I’d had exactly zero contact with the show’s two presenters – Andrew G and Brigitte Duclos. And, as I suspected, this would not prove to be ideal…

==================================================================

In the example episode of the show that I’ve put up on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page, at the very end, you can see Andrew G having a mild dig at the sign-off I’d written for him “…and that rhymes, so you know it must be true”….

* SIGH * You’re welcome, Andrew. I’d have happily written him something he preferred, had I been given the opportunity. Having said that, it can be tricky reinventing the wheel each week; trying to come up with a catchy (but not repetitive) phrase, in the show’s specific language, to use as a sign-off. In fact, in case you’re interested, here are some of the other “same-but-different” parting words that I wrote:

  • We look forward to seeing you next time, when we’ll Test another six people, to see whose encyclopaedic intellect and enigmatic intentions can score them a guaranteed $50,000, right here on The ConTestGoodnight!
  • We look forward to seeing you next time, when we’ll Test another 6 people, to see whose quick-witted quizzing, brilliant bluffing and successful scheming can score them a guaranteed $50,000, right here on The ConTestGoodnight!
  • We look forward to seeing you next time on The ConTest, where every question we ask is a “Multiple Choice”, and everything the contestants say is a “True or False”! Goodnight! 
  • We look forward to seeing you again soon, here on The ConTest – the $50,000 quiz, where the Superior Players have Ulterior Motives… Goodnight!

At least I managed to score an onscreen credit at the end of the show (which is something you don’t always get). If you’re VERY eagle-eyed, you can spot my rather squashed name at the 43:36 mark, for about half a second, just beneath the names of the three directors’ assistants;

The ConTest went to air in 2007, from February 7th – April 11th, and due to rather average ratings, it was not renewed for a second season. Cést La Vie. I think this was indicative of how people’s taste in game shows had changed by then. The concept of The ConTest depended on people lying to each other, deceiving each other, cheating each other and generally being a bit mean to each other. It came along in the wake of a number of shows of that ilk; The Weakest Link and Shafted* being just two examples. I think the fact that viewers largely rejected the show said something reassuring about the public; that they didn’t see people deceiving each other for money as being great entertainment. I must admit, when watching the show, I often found myself feeling not especially proud of all the deception, conniving and lying we were enabling… It is a slightly unpalatable fact that sometimes game shows aren’t all sweetness and light.  

I’d like to think that the type of game show that rewards deception, conniving and cheating is a thing of the past. We can but hope.

==================================================================

* For which I also wrote, back in 2002. Sorry everyone. And that also not-always-pleasant-experience will be the subject of an another upcoming PatentedHowToWinGameShowReminiscence post here soon….

Happy New Year, from HowToWinGameShows.com!

Hello and WELCOME, 2019!!!

As another year ticks over, and we take stock of the last twelve months, and make plans for the next twelve, I hope that 2018 was full of fun, happiness and laughter for you. I hope you continued your love affair with game shows, enjoying watching them, playing along with them at home, and maybe even appearing on one (or more!)

And if you’re an aspiring game show contestant, but haven’t quite got there yet, then I sincerely hope that 2019 will be the year when you MAKE IT HAPPEN! And if WHEN you do, I sincerely hope that you’re able to find some handy tips in these pages, to help you have a fantastic, fun, and profitable time competing on it.

I’ve got all sorts of interesting – and hopefully helpful – content lined up for you here on the blog in 2019, but as always, I’d love any suggestions you may have.

Please do feel free to contact me in either the comments section below, or via email (Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com), Facebook or Twitter

Thank you, as always, for your continued support, and as Yoda says, NEW YEAR HAPPY, EVERYONE!

 

Merry Christmas, from HowToWinGameShows.com!

Hello! Just a quick one this week, to wish you and your loved ones the happiest, safest and most fun Christmas that could ever be imagined!

Thank you so much for your support of HowToWinGameShows.com in 2018. I hope that your game show adventures this year were all you wished for.

As we move into 2019, I have loads more exclusive content planned for you, but for now, please allow me to wish you, once again…

Season’s Greetings,

Joyeux Noel,

Frohliche Weihnachten and

Feliz Navidad.

Tidings of comfort and joy.

Stephen.

‘The ConTest’ – Part 1 of 2

Hello!

Today, I begin my latest Patented How To Win Game Shows Reminiscence, and this time it’s about an oft-forgotten game show from 2007 here in Australia – The ConTest. This was a show where contestants didn’t necessarily need to know any of the answers to the questions being asked; in this format, their bluffing skills were far more important. If you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show, I’ve put a sample episode up here, on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page.

Maybe you’d like to go and have a look at that. Or maybe you’d like to dive right in. If it’s the latter, then read on, dear reader, read on…

==================================================================

It was late 2006 when my manager at the time got in touch with me regarding a work opportunity; it seemed there was going to be an Australian version of Ant & Dec’s recent UK game show PokerFace, and they were looking for someone to write the scripts – and questions, if possible – for this local version. I went and met the producer Asif Zubairy (who was a great producer, and a lovely man as well), we had a chat, and I got the gig. 

In working on an adaptation such as this, a lot of the groundwork has already been done. We had access to all the scripts of the original UK version, along with all the questions, and all the tapes of the show so far. The Australian version was to be virtually a carbon copy of the original (albeit with a different title), so my brief was pretty much to make it “the-same-but-different”. This required replacing all of the questions, adding a lot of local references into the scripts and making the banter comfortable for the show’s two hosts: Andrew G (now known as Osher Gunsberg) and Brigitte Duclos

The show was to be an hour long, and 10 episodes had been commissioned, initially. Each of those 10 scripts would need to include 38 questions, broken down like this;

ROUND ONE

8 X hard questions

ROUND TWO

5 X easy questions

ROUND THREE

5 X easy questions

ROUND FOUR

5 X medium questions

ROUND FIVE

5 X hard questions

SPARE ROUND

5 X hard questions + 5 X easy questions

So that’s 380 questions in total.

Oh, and I also had to write a rehearsal episode script and supply 38 questions for that. So that’s 11 scripts and 418 questions, after all. Not counting questions that I would be called upon to replace, moving forward, for whatever reason.

The first thing I did was trawl through all my databases of old trivia questions on my computer. I’d been writing and running pub trivia for years, and so I had quite a few old standard questions which always worked – they were interesting, they were entertaining, and the passage of time hadn’t hurt them. After I’d selected – and in some cases re-jigged – a good number of these, I then started writing questions from the news of the day; going through newspapers, and getting up to speed with what was going on in pop culture at the time. Asif, and the network, would give me notes about the questions; these “Easy” ones are too hard, these “Hard” ones are too easy, these ones aren’t appropriate, these ones aren’t interesting enough, and so on and so on. I then had to tweak these questions, or come up with replacements that they were happy with.  

Here’s my delivery schedule, and the record dates: 

  • Deliver 76 X questions and scripts for Eps 1 & 2 by close of business Wednesday 29/11/06
  • Deliver 76 X questions and scripts for Eps 3 & 4 by COB Friday 01/12/06
  • Deliver 76 X questions and scripts for Eps 5 & 6 by COB Wednesday 06/12/06
  • Deliver 76 X questions and scriptfor Eps 7 & 8 by COB Friday 08/12/06
  • Deliver 76 X questions and scripts for Eps 9 & 10 by COB Wednesday 13/12/06

 

  • Rehearsal in studio in Sydney – Wednesday 13/12/06
  • Rehearsal in studio in Sydney – Thursday 14/12/06
  • Record Episode 1 in studio in Sydney – Friday 15/12/06
  • Record Episodes 2 & 3 in studio in Sydney – Sunday 17/12/06
  • Record Episode 4 in studio in Sydney – Monday 18/12/06
  • Record Episode 5 in studio in Sydney – Tuesday 19/12/06
  • Record Episode 6 in studio in Sydney – Friday 22/12/06
  • Record Episode 7 in studio in Sydney – Friday 05/01/07
  • Record Episodes 8 & 9 in studio in Sydney – Saturday 06/01/07
  • Record Episode 10 in studio in Sydney – Monday 08/01/07

My main recollection of writing The ConTest is that it was all done remotely. I was living in Melbourne at the time, the show was being made in Sydney, and my involvement didn’t extend beyond phone calls and emails to Asif. I was never present at the studio for any of the rehearsals or records, and I had no contact with either Andrew or Brigitte. I don’t recall ever getting any feedback on whether they were happy with the words I was writing for them to say. Feedback would have been handy, though; I’d have liked to have had the opportunity to tweak it more to their taste. I always think TV presenters appear more comfortable and confident when they’ve had input into what they’re saying on camera. I also remember this period as a very busy time; the workload and deadlines ended up being a bit tricky to meet, since I was also fitting this commitment in around my shooting dates for The King. 

==================================================================

And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. When I return with Part 2, in the new year, I’ll discuss feedback from presenters, show some snippets from the scripts, and look at the general game show trends at the time. Until then, then!