SH: Who were your Phone-A-Friends, and why did you choose those particular people?
MF: Generally, the rule was that you had 3 Phone-A-Friends, and it could be anyone you wanted. I used Dave because I had gone to trivia with him regularly and we often watched the show on the phone together and if he went to a trivia night that I didn’t, he’d ring up with the questions and I would do the same thing. We got to know each other and I got to know how he thinks. I wanted to have someone on the other end of the phone that I could tell by his tone whether he was confident in the answer or not. If he says he is absolutely certain of something, then he is. I had Dave because the rules allowed that you could have people looking up whatever you wanted, which they changed later on. I’d have Dave, I had some computers, I’d have friends there and they’re all trying to get the answer. When I got into the Hot Seat, I had more than 10 people. Four computers, four different people on each computer. In theory, each one is searching for a different answer and question and trying to match it up. We practised it so many times; I would be in this bedroom ringing up and Dave would be in the other room on the computer and I would ring and pretend that I was asking a question and see how it goes. We’d count it down, and you learn a lot that way. It was fun.
SH: You did two episodes, didn’t you?
MF: Yes. One was probably the Friday the 30th of September, 2005… and five weeks and a few days later, Monday the 7th of November.
SH: That’s a huge gap – and if I had that gap, I’d be freaking out – but I remember you saying that you were grateful for it.
MF: I loved it. It gave me five weeks to study for two questions for half a million and a million. I took most of the time off work, and got the ‘Phone-A-Friend’s really prepared; I had four people and four computers. I got the right team to do it. I studied and studied and I had been meaning for some time to look up a list of famous people. I looked up Time Magazine’s ‘Men of the Year’, and just scanned through that three days before I got that million dollar question.
And for those of you playing along at home, here’s Martin’s ONE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION….
SH: When the million dollar question came up, were you able to access the knowledge from Time magazine?
MF: Yes, because it was still in my head. It’s quite bizarre the way memory works, because it’s like “I’m going to go through the page in my head” and when I looked at it a few days before, I looked at a few faces. On the right, it had a few pictures of some of the people who were Time magazine’s Man of the Year. I slowly but surely went through them all in my head and I could picture them, because I went 50/50 and I was left with the Ayatollah and Mao Zedong, and I could see as clear as day where I could almost put my mouse in my hand and click on the hypertext: “1979 – Ayatollah Khomeini”. I thought that would make sense, because the first time I went on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, I went to get my hair cut, because an Iranian lady told me “Today is the anniversary; it would have been 25 years since the Ayatollah took over Iran in 1979”. I knew he was one of Time magazine’s men of the year, so he wasn’t the answer.
There’s still more of this interview, and even more tips from this Quiz Show Legend, who’s well and truly been there and done that… so don’t forget to check back in, right here!