Talkin’ ‘Bout Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation – Part V

Hello and welcome to the fifth and final instalment of my recollections of the original incarnation of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation (2009 – 2012).

I thought I’d round out this series with a few random memories, interspersed with some Interesting* Facts**. So here goes….

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One very strong memory from my time writing on the show was of my often standing on the sidelines, feeling frustrated. During record days, as I watched the games unfold, time and time again I’d find myself biting my tongue. Not just as a trivia buff and quiz enthusiast; “How can you NOT know that answer!? That’s such an easy question!?”… but also as a comedy writer and performer; “How can you not go for that gag?! Come on! We set that up for you!!!”  Not that I wanted to be out there on one of the teams… I was just repeatedly staggered by the players’ woeful general knowledge, and disappointed by the joke opportunities they so frequently let slip by. I’d often have to tell myself ‘Let it go, Hally… that’s just the gig…’

INTERESTING FACT: Did you know that “pottery” would be an anagram of “poetry”, if you added an extra “T”?

Another strong memory is the expertly light touch of Executive Producer Peter Beck, who never said “Wouldn’t it be funny if…?” He always just let Shaun, Michael and I write the comedy, never butting in with editorial suggestions. In the past, I’ve worked with some desperately unfunny producers who – despite their total lack of comedy qualifications – feel entitled to make inane suggestion after inane suggestion for the show’s comedy content. Peter Beck was the opposite of that. I’m now working for him again, on Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, and his cheerful, can-do, hands-off-the-comedy approach has also contributed mightily to this show’s success. Grazie Pietro!

INTERESTING FACT: One of the earliest known murals – in the Chauvet Cave in France – is still clearly visible after 32 000 years. And they didn’t even use an undercoat.

I remember the show was successful enough to spawn various items of merchandise, including a board game (which I wrote quite a few questions, and other bits and pieces for)…

An interactive DVD game….

And Michael Ward’s brilliant book; The Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation Book of Everything Ever…

… which is a fantastically funny read, and I recommend that you buy it immediately.

INTERESTING FACT: The stubble on a man’s face known as “five o’clock shadow” can actually appear at any time between 4:15 and 5:30.

My next memory is more personal. Between the third and fourth seasons, I moved to Sydney. The show was still being made in Melbourne, so for a few months, I flew myself down and back each week, staying three nights a week in Melbourne at my Mum’s. I have very fond memories of those times – sitting up late, chatting and watching Bing Crosby & Bob Hope’s Road To… movies with Mum on the nights when I was staying at her place. It was very different to the rest of my domestic life back in Sydney (with my wife and young daughter), but a lot of fun, and I know it made Mum very happy to have me back in the family home again. Of course, I couldn’t have known that she’d be gone just 2 years later. I have TAYG to thank for that precious time with Mum.

INTERESTING FACT: “Bones” was the nickname of Dr McCoy on the 60s TV series Star Trek. The nickname of Captain Kirk was, of course, “Daryl”.

The show finished its first run in 2012 after 80 episodes… but was then revived this year, on a different network! The new version again featured Shaun as its host, but the 3 generations were updated. The Baby Boomers were gone, and the 3 generations for the 2018 version were Generation X, Gen Y and Gen Z. It’s a great reboot; every bit as fun and entertaining as it was the first time round. The team captains are Robyn Butler and Andy Lee (who were both guest players in the original version of the show) and the young actor Laurence Boxhall, who’s quite a discovery. I was invited to work on the new version, but was sadly unavailable, as I had an acting gig at the time (Brigadoon). Otherwise, I would have done it all again in a heartbeat.

INTERESTING FACT:  It’s well known that George Clooney once had a pet pig called Max. But did you know he also has a pet mosquito called Ronald?

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And that’s it for my 5-part TAYG series. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any memories of this show, please do feel free to share them in the ‘Comments’ section below. See you next time, with

* May not technically be interesting.

** May not technically be a fact, either.

Talkin’ ‘Bout ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation’… Part IV

(L-R) Baby Boomers Captain Amanda Keller, host Shaun Micallef, Gen Y Captain Josh Thomas and Generation X Captain Charlie Pickering

Hello, and welcome to the fourth instalment of my patented HowToWinGameShows reminiscence about working on the original incarnation of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation (2009 – 2012).

Here’s the show’s theme, by the way….

… which was composed by Yuri Worontschak. How many different song snippets did you identify in it?

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  • INTERESTING FACT: Despite its name, the average ‘smart car’ has an IQ of just 89, and can’t complete even the most basic Sudoku.

I mentioned last week the joy of writing for the show with Michael Ward and Shaun. Quite apart from the fun of it, along the way, our writing also attracted some professional attention, earning Michael and I an Awgie Award nomination in 2010. Here’s the certificate;

The production kindly paid for our tickets to the event, but Michael and I came away empty-handed, losing to Good News Week. Cést La Vie. The show did pick up a few other awards during its run, though;  

  • The 2010 Logie Award for Most Outstanding Light Entertainment Program
  • The 2010 Logie Award for Most Popular Light Entertainment Program
  • The 2010 Logie Award for Most Popular Presenter (Shaun Micallef)
  • The 2010 AFI Award for Outstanding Achievement in Television Screen Craft (Shaun Micallef)  

And after 8 years, I’m still not entirely sure what that last one means.

  • INTERESTING FACT: Despite their name, most modern irons are made of plastic, aluminium and steel. Which means that although they’re not technically irons, they are technically ironic.

The show also attracted some controversy from time to time, but there’s one example of this that stands out above all others. It was Season 3, episode 5, which aired in March, 2011. This was one of our family-themed episodes, in which,

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Talkin’ ‘Bout ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation’… Part III

Hello, and welcome to the third instalment of my patented HowToWinGameShowsReminiscence about the original series of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation (2009 – 2012).

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As I closed last week’s post, I was delivering the Endgame Envelope to Shaun as the comic strip character The Phantom. But thanks to Shaun’s comic creativity, there were many other opportunities for cameo appearances in other parts of the program; they weren’t restricted to just that point in the show. The time, effort (and expense!) lavished on these was often quite considerable… and often for the briefest gag, or the quickest bit of screen time. Take this example of “The Swingle Singers” (actually me, my fellow writer on the show Michael Ward and two actors) introducing the game What’s A Doodle Do?

People at home may not realise all the production that goes into making a moment like this happen, so let me break it down for you….

After Shaun wrote the idea in the script, the show’s composer Yuri Worontschak was hired to write and record the piece of music required. This entailed Yuri, in turn, hiring two session singers (one male, one female) to record the multiple vocal tracks required by his arrangement. Ka-ching!

After Yuri delivered the completed track to the production, Michael Ward and I were cast (we were used fairly frequently for these types of roles, partly because we were always around, and partly because we “got” the show’s sense of humour), and the production hired the two lady ‘Swingle Singers’, to make up the quartet. Ka-ching! On the record day, there was a session set aside for the four of us, to familiarise ourselves with the audio track and rehearse it (as we’d be miming to it on camera), and to learn and rehearse the choreography. The choreography couldn’t have been much simpler. It just required us to hold a microphone in one hand, click our fingers on the other hand, sway from side to side in unison, and then lean forward at the end. I say the choreography was simple … and yet we didn’t manage to nail it on the day (as you can plainly see in the clip). And there was no Take 2. Damn! Ah well, Cést La Vie.

When you add to all this:

The sourcing and fitting of our four costumes, which required the resources of the show’s wardrobe department and the two people who worked in it, (Ka-ching!)

Make up for all of us (including hair styling for the two ladies)

Extra catering for our two guest players (Ka-ching!)

… you begin to get an idea of all the different people, all the hours they worked, and all the expense they incurred, in the process of bringing this idea to the screen.

And all that… for just 18 seconds of screen time.

But that’s the beauty of working on a show that’s as successful as TAYG was at the time; ask and ye shall receive. The network and production company were so happy with the ratings, that Shaun didn’t have to reign his mighty imagination in. This made the show funnier, more playful, more surprising, and ultimately, I think, richer.

I mentioned my co-writer on the show Michael Ward, and it was an absolute joy to work with him for its duration. We’d worked together on many projects before this, and have worked on many since, and it was always great to have him in my corner here.  From a comedy-writing perspective, TAYG was a hungry beast; each show demanded an awful lot of gags, in various shapes and styles. And when you’re writing for – and with – Shaun Micallef, the bar is always set extremely high. Wardy and I would write alternate scripts for the show (that is, I’d write Episodes 1, 3, 5, and so on, and he’d write episode 2, 4, 6, and so on), which we’d send to Shaun, and then he’d tweak, change, edit and improve the scripts, turning them into a final draft he was comfortable with. It was a tough gig at times, staring at that blank page, trying to come up with gags on a very specific subject, or new, fresh ways to introduce games that had already been played on the show scores of times… But we two comrades were aware of the privileged position we were in; of just how lucky we were. It was great to share it the adventure with Wardy, my good friend.

One of the most fun parts of writing the show was coming up with the “Interesting Facts” that accompanied each Endgame. As I mentioned last week, each episode ended with a big physical challenge which all three teams played together, to determine who’d win that week’s episode. Examples of these challenges included:

Which generation is best at finding a needle in a hay stack?

Which generation is best at typing out the complete works of Shakespeare?

And of course,

Which generation is best at shovelling ectoplasm into a toilet?

Each week, as the Endgame challenge unfolded, Shaun would read out some “Interesting Facts” about that week’s task. Facts that we’d written. For example…

From the “Which generation is best at escaping a maze?” challenge:

  • According to ancient fairy tales, a good way to escape a maze is to leave a trail of breadcrumbs behind you. It’s also a great way to make friends with ducks.
  • Traditionally, the easiest mazes to escape from are hedge mazes. All you need is some petrol and a match.

From the “Which generation is best at making breakfast in bed?” challenge:

  • Breakfast in Bed was the title of a 1978 film starring John Ritter. Sadly, the film was unsuccessful, and John Ritter died just 25 years later.

And from the Christmas-themed episode:

  • Ding-Dong Merrily on High is one of the few Christmas carols still sung in its original language – gibberish.

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That’s where we’ll leave it for this week. If you liked the interesting facts above, there are many more in my eBook. Subtle self-promotion over now, see you next week!

Talkin’ ‘Bout ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation’… Part II

Hello! This week, I’m  bringing you a few random memories of my time on TAYG, but first, I’d like you to join me on a little stroll to Shameless Namedropping Corner….

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Given that the show ran for 72 episodes, and that each episode required three guest players (one for The Baby Boomer team, one for Generation X and one for Gen Y), that’s 216 celebrity guests who sat behind those three TAYG desks. Some of them have turned out to be Hollywood heavy hitters…

Some of them were successful recording artists…

One of them was a YouTube sensation, whose videos have had over 500 million views…

… And one of them was a cheeky puppet fox.

I recall being quite excited that Basil Brush was going to be a player in the first episode of our second series – he was an international guest, after all. However, I wasn’t quite as excited as our Executive Producer Peter Beck; he’s a long-time fan of Basil, and the photo of Peter with Basil – from that TAYG record – was still on the wall in Peter’s office, last time I looked. Before recording Basil’s episode, the production really gave him the star treatment. Well, not Basil, technically – the star treatment was more for Michael Winsor, his operator. I remember Peter, Mel (a producer on the show), Michael and I being treated to dinner at one of the fanciest restaurants in Melbourne by the production company. A lovely, happy, chatty, enthusiastic, evening; Michael was really excited to be here, all the way from England, Basil came to dinner with us (in his special case, which Michael kept with him at all times), and the four of us even talked about how a Basil Brush show might work in Australia.

So I was disappointed when the episode record rolled around, and all three of our team captains were repeatedly rude to Basil during the show. It made for very uncomfortable viewing, and I really felt for poor Michael (Basil’s operator), who came to the show with so much enthusiasm and goodwill. I was embarrassed about the way our show treated this guest. Why all three of the captains treated him like that, I’ll never know. But am I over-reacting? Have a look, see what you think, and let me know in the comments below:

I mentioned Leo Sayer above, and he played a part in one of my most vivid memories from the show. If you’re familiar with the show’s format, you’d know that

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Talkin’ ‘Bout ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation’… Part I

Hello! Today I’m beginning the latest in my series of multi-part, patented HowToWinGameShowsReminiscences. This time, I’ll be talking about my time as writer, then head writer – and occasional cast member – of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, for its entire four-season run, from 2009 – 2012.

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Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation (or TAYG, as its host Shaun Micallef dubbed it) was an hour-long comedy game show, which pitted three 2-person teams of celebrities against each other in various games, testing them mentally and physically. The overall theme of the show (as hinted at in the title) was a “battle of the generations”; in this case,

  • The Baby Boomers (defined by us as having been born between 1946 and 1964), versus
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) versus
  • Gen Y (born between 1980 and 1996).

My involvement in the show began in February 2009, when the Executive Producer Peter Beck approached me about this new comedy game show (called My Generation at that time) that was being developed for Channel 10, with Shaun Micallef confirmed as its host. I’d worked with both Peter and Shaun before, and it was exciting to be in at the very genesis of the show, when a lot of its components were still being created and tweaked. We play-tested loads of games that the producers had come up with, I submitted ideas for new generation-based games, and we brainstormed a lot of game titles (I remember What’s A Doodle Do was one of mine). We put together a mock / test episode for the purpose of auditioning potential team captains, and I was in the studio for all the team captain auditions, which took place over a couple of days.

After auditioning many celebrities from the three generations, the team captains were finally cast. They were: Amanda Keller for the Baby Boomers, Charlie Pickering for Generation X and Josh Thomas for Gen Y.

There were practice runs and more practice runs, with Shaun – ever the perfectionist – tweaking the script again and again, always adding more and yet more jokes. And this, in my opinion, was what really ensured that TAYG was the success that it was.

Oh sure, the format was very sound, and the content of every game was meticulously prepared to provide maximum entertainment value and playability (both for our teams and the viewers at home). And our team captains were very well cast – they were each funny and engaging in their own way, and their chemistry when working together was fantastic.

But the show was very much Shaun’s. His absurd, tangential, brilliant humour shone through in every segment. Playfulness was the order of the day here, and he led by example, introducing all sorts of silliness while still managing to host the show. A good example of this was the inclusion to the show of Stewart, Shaun’s pet meerkat. (Again, the name was mine; it was a reference to the actress Kat Stewart, who Shaun and I had both worked with on Shaun’s previous show Newstopia). Here’s Stewart in action:

Stewart was a pedal-operated idea of Shaun’s that was brought to life by the utterly brilliant props builder and head of art department David Triscott. As you can imagine, DT was tasked with all sorts of bizarre challenges for this show, from building Shaun’s chair (a replica of the Tyrell Corporation chair from Blade Runner)*…

… to constructing an enormous machine that spins our contestants around, while pouring tomato sauce and butter on them. He rose to the occasion brilliantly every time. In fact, the Art Department was another example of how every element of this show seemed to come together. It all just… worked. And the show’s ratings reflected this; it was a hit, with each episode of the first series attracting over a million viewers (which, in Australia, is really good).

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Next week, some more behind the scenes stories (and pics!), and a look at some of the show’s many guest contestants who’ve gone on to bigger and better things…

Until then, then!

* That Tyrell Corporation chair is still around, and can be spotted in the background on Shaun’s current show Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell. 

Normal service will be restored in a fortnight…

Hello! Just a quick one this week, to let you know that I’m off on a family holiday for the next couple of weeks…

… So the next new entry here at the site won’t be until Tuesday September 4th. It’s going to take the form of another one of my patented HowToWinGameShowsBehindTheScenesReminiscences… this time, about one of the longest running gigs I’ve ever had behind the scenes in the world of game shows. It’ll be a multi-part post, and for those of you who are curious, here’s a not-very-difficult clue as to the show’s identity…

TAYG.

If you think you know which show it is, let me know in the comments section below.

THERE MAY EVEN BE A PRIZE for the first correct answer!

And when I say “may”, I actually mean “won’t”. 

Until September 4th, then!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Saaale’ – Pete Smith! Part V

Mr Pete Smith, OAM

This week sees the conclusion of my interview with the legendary Pete Smith, and I should point out that this week’s post carries a language warning (of sorts). So if you’re offended by the transcription of a crow call that sounds a little bit like a certain rude word, I’d recommend only reading the first half of the post.

And now that that’s out of the way… Enjoy!

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SH: One final question, if I may…

PS: I think you’ve short changed me a bit, Stephen.

SH: What do you mean?

PS: Well, I’ve been 54 years on Channel Nine and you’ve only devoted this much time…

SH: No, no please – I could talk to you all day!

PS: Maybe we can come back again.

SH: I would love to. Can we do another session? That would be fantastic.

PS: Here I am begging for more interview. I’m really jesting with you but thank you.

SH: I could listen to you for hours, but…

PS: I think what you’re doing is terrific, because in this business we love, this terrible business called television, history can get lost so easily. I admire what you’re doing, because it means that it’s going to be somewhere, someone’s going to pick it up.

SH: Oh, good. Thank you very much, Pete.

PS: So the more of that, the merrier. And to be able to pass on to young people like you, some of the things about the way it was – it’s a joy, it really is. Because you can’t be expected to know. You can’t be expected to know that it was 24 ½ minutes for a ‘Pal’ dog food commercial (on In Melbourne Tonight)I mean it’s trivial, but you can’t be expected to know that was the environment.

SH: But if you’re interested in all this stuff – as I am – then it’s wonderful to be able to go to the source; you were there!

PS: Well it is. Take Graham Kennedy’s infamous ‘crow call  – that didn’t just happen in a minute, Kennedy had a death wish ; he wanted to get out. I don’t know why he didn’t go to management and say “look I want to finish up”. So he’d become very difficult, but the ‘crow call’ didn’t happen overnight. For over two years – maybe three, maybe more – Kennedy used to delight in sending us up to the audience while we were doing our commercials, which we had to memorise. One of my main ones was for Colvan Chips. The advertiser paid good money for the thing and one night you can see him out of the corner of your eye other side of the studio right in front of the audience, monkeying around. The bird calls, the crow calls started with Rosemary Margan, while she was doing live reads for Cedel baby powder or whatever, and he used to delight in doing it to her. He’d  be going “Tweet, tweet, tweet….” Well, the audience of course are laughing and he’s

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Saaale’ – Pete Smith! Part IV

Mr Pete Smith

Welcome back to my interview with the living legend of Australian television that IS Pete Smith.

After all his decades in the industry, and his 21-year gig on $ale of the Century, I wanted to ask Pete what he saw as the future of game shows.

So I did.

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SH: Pete, what do you see as the future of game shows?

PS: Well I see the future of game shows wrapped up in the future of free to air television. The game show – along with sport and news – is the sort of thing that television, I think, does best. And so I hope that the future of game shows will be saved by the facts that these sorts of things don’t really sit well in a box set. They need to almost be live. Even though they are all recorded in advance, you do have the advantage – if you don’t pre-record too far ahead – of reflecting what’s going on outside. I think perhaps games shows are going to have to maybe address that.

SH: Right, right.

PS: A lot of the shows are recorded sometimes many weeks or months in advance, but I think it’s going to have to come back to reflecting a little more on what’s going on immediately.

SH: Of course, it’s the immediacy, isn’t it? And even if it’s recorded, say, a month in advance you can still talk about things that are relatively current.

PS: Things have to be edited I understand that, of course, and we have come a long way. A lot of the things that I was involved in those so-called golden years when we were on live… People say “why isn’t it live? It would be terrific if it was live”. But the fact it was live is because frankly technically, once you put it on to a kinescope on 16 millimetre film – just prior to videotape revolutionising things – it was quite obvious, once it had been recorded and played back, that it wasn’t live. It was grainy, it didn’t look good at all, and you couldn’t pass it off as live. So that’s mainly why things went out live.

SH: It was a technical necessity.

PS: Yes, and the only aspect of that era that I would think would be lovely to retain would be the non-editing. Because one of the joys of going out live is that you see it ‘warts and all’. People are sitting at home in their dressing gowns and they are seeing us making mistakes too. You don’t want the mistakes – of course you don’t – but at the same time you don’t want to plasticise it either.

SH: We are all human.

PS: Unfortunately, television has become a bit like that; a bit plastic.

SH: I agree with you, it’s like an element of live theatre where things can go wrong.

PS: And there’s the difference! There’s the attraction of live theatre – you know it’s there, live.

SH: It’s happening right now!

PS: Back on $ale of the Century, one of the prizes was a whole lot of money; the “Cash Jackpot”. I’d announce it, they would cut to Tony and the contestant, and this acrylic see-through box would be lowered down onto the set, and all the money was there inside it.

SH: Yes! That was real money, wasn’t it?

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Saaale’ – Pete Smith! Part III

Mr Pete Smith, OAM

Hello and welcome to the third instalment of my interview with Pete Smith. In addition to an incredible career spanning SEVEN DECADES (from the 1950s until now), Pete has many other strings to his bow. In 2004, he was made a member of the Order of Australia, for service to the community, and back in the late seventies, he worked closely with the man who would later become world famous as Mick “Crocodile” Dundee…

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SH: Just off on a tangent, for a moment, from game shows; I believe you worked with Paul Hogan?

PS: Yes. Paul came down. Well Paul originally was a contestant on New Faces. I think in the Frank Wilson period before Bert took over the New Faces show, and I don’t think Paul won. But whether he won or not, it was seen by The Powers That Be, and I think Mike Willesee saw the thing and saw a spark in the guy, and offered him a fun segment on a Friday night on A Current Affair to lighten up the end of the week – to end the week on a lighter note… and the rest, of course, is history.

SH: He came to Melbourne and was given his own show, because he’s originally from Sydney, isn’t he?

PS: Yes, but he did used to do the shows in Melbourne. It’s amazing how they went through all those years with the limited studio space that they had. So in the Paul Hogan specials, a lot of it was pre-recorded, and most of those comedy sketches that still exist today, you see the outside ones were shot on film by John Bowring who’s no longer with us, a wonderful cinematographer who started in the 9 newsroom. Then finally The Paul Hogan Show was all on videotape, so I had a few bits and pieces (acting in some of the sketches). I’ve been a ‘bits and pieces’ man all along – probably that’s what saved my bacon.

SH: Fantastic – you’ve been versatile.

PS: That’s why I’m still around. People say “Well, what are you doing now?” Well I do ‘Community Affairs’. And if you’ve ever had an affair in the community, you know how it can be exhausting.

SH: Boom boom! Thank you very much! I’m conscious of the limited time we have today, so can I ask you about any general game show highlights or game show memories that stick out?

PS: Some of the great times in the show were when they had the Celebrity $ale of the Century specials. Of course television is wonderful of cannibalising itself, and the celebrity shows that I recall at $ale of the Century really did have celebrities. I mean, Gough Whitlam was on the show for God’s sake, and that’s just one stand-out name I mention. They really did manage to get big names. And unfortunately after a long period of time with other shows that tried to get celebrities too, it became a bit like I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. And I don’t mean to put that down…

SH: No, but… who are those people?

PS: and eventually, the bigger celebrities didn’t want to do that sort of thing, unfortunately.

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More’s the pity. Next week, as our discussion continues, I ask Pete for his thoughts on the future of game shows, and we discuss the importance – and increasing rarity – of live television, and what that may mean to the future of the industry in general. 

See you next Tuesday!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Saaale’ – Pete Smith! Part II

Mr Pete Smith

Hello, and welcome to HowToWinGameShows.comOr, as Pete Smith would say, “HooooooooowToWinGameShows.com

Don’t believe me? Just click on the ‘WARM WELCOME FROM PETE SMITH’ window on the top right of the page, to hear for yourself.

As my interview with Pete continues this week, I wanted to keep things on a game show footing, so I asked him……

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SH: You also worked on Bert’s Family Feud. How was that different from $ale of the Century, in terms of contestants?

PS: Well, it was a totally different situation, really. It was very loose. The Family Feud format again is a terrific format, but it’s a format that’s based on fun, and humour. But Bert was his usual self, when normally these formats are very, very strict. The owner of the format is usually very clear about how you present the thing; I remember on $ale, the phrase “$5 with which to begin”… some of those things are followed to the letter. But then of course Tony Barber made the show his own. He knew it so well that he took it to really new heights.

SH: He was a hit!

PS: He was. And another thing… back then, because the set was so expensive (with all its electronic components), when the format was sold to someone else say in France, Japan, Hong Kong, or Germany, every now and then we’d have an entourage coming in from overseas to take over the studio and the set for the day, and record a pilot.

SH: Oh, really? From another country?

PS: From another country. And you would see the little French guy speaking in French, bounce out exactly the same way Tony used to bounce out. They wanted everything to be exactly the way the successful format in Australia was, so they didn’t want to diverge from anything on the show. Even the announcer who did the announcement. I remember particularly the one for Hong Kong; the show was called Dai Soubut. They couldn’t get the translation the $ale of the Century; it was called The Big Spender which was Dai Soubut. And I remember the announcer doing it just like I did the $ale one; Daaaai Soooou But! Of course the reason I did the $ale of the Century read like that was to do with Garry Meadows,  who was the original Price is Right compere in Australia.

SH: I remember him.

PS: But at this particular time he was working for Grundy’s, as the first producer of $ale of the Century. By that time everything was pre-recorded, not much was live. And Garry was auditioning freelance announcers for the show, and being the only announcer left at Channel 9 I was going from my office where I wrote the scripts to the booth on the other side of the building in Richmond. Backwards and forwards all day, that was my mode of operation. And as I’d go past the foyer, I’d notice these freelance guys sitting there; there’d be a different one every time I walked past. I thought “Oh, hello – they’re going to replace me!”. You’re always the last to know in this business.

SH: The writing’s on the wall…

PS: And on one tour down the corridor, I bumped into Garry Meadows, and he said “We’re auditioning – we’ve got a new quiz show starting”. He then said “the next guy hasn’t turned up yet. Come into the control room, and I’ll show you what we’re doing”. So we went up to the control room and showed me a little bit of videotape – no music on it, or anything – of a caption card with $ale of the Century written on it, and it was on a turntable. Pretty basic – of course there were no computer graphics back then. Just this card, slowly rotating into view, so that you could read what was written on it. So they ran this bit of tape and they gave me a script that said “welcome to the world’s richest quiz – $ale of the Century“. So Garry said “when the red light comes on, I’ll run the tape”, so I go into the booth and I do it. But it didn’t work; the read was too short…I thought I can’t just say “Sale of the Century” because the thing hadn’t completely turned around to reveal, those words. So I said “Just one more time, Garry? And he ran the tape again and I said “welcome to the world’s richest quiz”, and the thing still hadn’t turned completely around, so I went “Saaaaaaale of the Century!” Well, within 10 seconds Gary had burst in the door of the booth, saying “That’s what we wanted! Will you do it?”

SH: All just because of a slow moving turntable.

PS: And a chance meeting in the corridor.

SH: And then you went on to say it another 4610 times!

PS: Is that right? Gee whiz!

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It is indeed, Pete. It is indeed. And that’s where we leave it for this week. Next week, on a slight tangent, Pete reminisces about working with Paul Hogan!

We’ll see you back here, then.

This is Stephen Hall speaking.