… that my seventh – final – episode of Temptation went to air, on
Wednesday August 24th, 2005.
Judi and I were living in Sydney, and had been diligently keeping The Big Win secret for a couple of weeks by this stage. Well, I had been, anyway…. I began to suspect Judi mightn’t have been quite so discreet when Mikey, our friendly neighbourhood greengrocer, started greeting me by saying “AH, G’DAY EINSTEIN! WHAT CAN I GET YOU?!”
Thankfully, the news didn’t seem to have spread much further, although I’m sure the few friends Judi invited over to watch the final episode with us had a pretty good idea. Unbeknownst to me, she’d made a number of T-shirts for them all to wear on the night. The shirts all had different slogans on them, saying things such as “Neighbours of The Champ”… but my favourite one featured something I’d said to (host) Ed Phillips, when he’d asked me during the show; “You’re way ahead of your opponents – why aren’t you buying anything from The Gift Shop?”
The garment’s a little worse for wear, but hey, it is 15 years old…
And despite all the different messages on the T-shirts’ fronts, they all featured the same image and words on the back:
I was so touched that Judi went to all the trouble to create these (still am!), and it did make me laugh when friend after friend showed up at our door that night wearing them, and beaming.
I remember feeling extremely excited and nervous as we all settled down to watch the show start – its opening theme instantly brought all those pre-game emotions flooding back. I also remember getting stupidly annoyed with some people for talking over some of the more tense moments of the game. That was petty of me. This was a party, after all; what was I worried about? Of course I knew that I’d already won, but I couldn’t help it…. the powerful emotional memories of the experience tended to drown out any logic.
On the night, we had to patiently wait for the broadcast time of 7 PM, and then wait through all the commercials, as the game unfolded. But today you don’t have to; if you’re interested in watching the episode, you just have to click on the ‘Play’ button in the centre of this image:
Watching the game play out that night was a bizarre, joyous, out-of-body experience. Although I obviously knew how it would all end, I couldn’t help feeling nervous, anxious and excited on behalf that red-headed fella buzzing his way through round after round of questions. And on behalf of his mum and sister in the audience, too. (After all, there was rather a lot of pressure on him, and the stakes couldn’t have been higher.) And the happiness and excitement in our lounge room was just electric. In fact, I find myself tearing up even now as I write this. It truly was one of those moments in life where I found myself thinking “what could I possibly have done to deserve all this good fortune?” Although that evening was essentially a replay of The Big Moment from a fortnight earlier, the excitement in the room that night, and the joy, and the… well, the love… was simply overpowering.
If you’re interested, you can read more about the making of the episode – of what it was like to ride through the eye of that storm – right here. Here’s an image from the final, celebratory moments of the show, when my dear, dear Mum joined me up on the main stage…
and a pic that was taken a couple of minutes later, for TV Week…
and a photo I recently rediscovered taken back at Mum’s house afterwards…with that same champagne and bunch of flowers.
In Mum’s kitchen, just after getting home from that life-changing episode. I have no recollection of where my sister got the crown from….
But I digress.
On the Wednesday when the episode went to air, it had only been over for a couple of minutes when the congratulatory calls and texts started to come in. There was so much happiness and so many good wishes flowing my way, it was absolutely mind-boggling. In the coming days, there were cards and letters, there were various newspaper interviews….
There was an interview with A Current Affair (for which they also talked to Mum), and all the while, various smaller prizes I’d won along the way kept arriving at our house.
A big screen TV? Thank you very much indeed. A telescope? Don’t mind if I do. A Swarovski crystal vase? Sure, why not? It felt like some sort of Bizarro-World-Upmarket-Christmas-in-August.
And then the cheque arrived. What a staggering, astounding, once-in-a-lifetime moment that was. To hold in my hand a cheque for such an amount… and for that cheque to be made out to me! I made a photocopy of it, which I still have, somewhere. I clearly remember the excitement of depositing it at the Bondi branch of my bank (which was in Hall Street, as it happened). I’d been speculating about what the teller’s reaction would be when I handed the cheque over, but he had the perfect poker face. He stared, expressionless, at the cheque for a couple of seconds, and then stamped and processed it, as though this was the most regular, ordinary, commonplace thing in the world.
Well, it wasn’t to me. To me, that cheque changed EVERYTHING. Profoundly.
For someone brought up in a single parent family, and who’d then gone on to be a freelancer in the entertainment industry, this provided security… and it provided options. I could help my family, I could make plans, I could invest for the future.
And when Judi and I joyously welcomed our daughter Lily into the world less than a year later, I can’t tell you how great it was to have that security. To know that things were going to be okay; that I had provided, and that our brand new happy little family was off to a wonderful start. To this day, we still drive the car that it bought (I never took delivery of the Volvo – I sold it back to the dealership instead), we still live in the house that it bought… and there have been so many other benefits, far too numerous to count.
And they all come from something I did over a handful of days, fifteen years ago. In some ways, it all still feels like yesterday. I was, I am, and I always will be so very, very grateful. And so very glad that I decided to embark on my quiz show journey, all the way back in 1994. Crikey – that’s 26 years ago now! The rewards just keep on coming, from that day to this, and I know they’ll continue to do so, into the future. So if you happen to be considering diving into the world of quiz shows / game shows, all I can say – loudly, enthusiastically, and fairly unsurprisingly – is…