Hello, Happy New Year, and welcome to the third instalment of my interview with Jeopardy! champion, AND Temptation Grand Champion, Blair Martin. This week, Blair and I discuss his run on Temptation – the climax of which is pictured to the right – and he reveals a couple of Jeopardy! pearls of wisdom that the show’s production staff shared with him. If you remember, at the end of last week’s post, Blair had just fronted up to the Temptation audition in Brisbane.
Now, Dear Reader, read on….
BM: I got through and during the interview with one of the contestant co-ordinators, and she had also been the co-coordinator on The Einstein Factor; Karla Burt. She was lovely. And I know the co-ordinators of Jeopardy! back in ’93 when they were doing the auditions, after everyone had done the 50 questions, and when they were being marked, they’d play an episode of Jeopardy! for people to watch. They said to me after I taped my Jeopardy! episodes (which were in March and my first episode aired on April Fool’s Day!), they said to me “We are now playing your episode at the auditions”; while they’re marking the tests. “We just leave the room and say “we want you all to be like him’…”
BM: “… ‘Which is; you look in the camera, you interact with the host, you wager big amounts because that increases the interest from the audience, and you are fine”. (The show’s host) Tony Barber actually said in the production meeting between the two weeks “Blair’s an actor. It means that the lights are on and the camera is on and he is back on. When it’s not, he’s off”. When you are on those programs, to me… I treat it as a job. I have a job to do, which is look good, be presentable and make good television. That’s what we’re here to do.
SH: It is interesting what you say about the wagering and how it relates to Temptation, because I haven’t seen all of your run, but your final episode is on YouTube (and now also on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page, here), which I watched in preparation for this. It seemed to me that your strategy was to buy in the Gift Shop and certainly not hold back, and you seemed to breeze through that final episode. The final score was 34 plays 25 plays 116. You seemed very relaxed. During your run on Temptation, did you often spend that big?
BM: This is something that the contestant co-ordinator shared with me. She said “they like you because you are spending. You are not freezing on that”. And in that final episode I think you can still see it, particularly on (co-host) Livinia’s face. When the champions are going for the big ones like either the car or the prize showcase or then the ultimate – which is absolutely everything – which is what I did… I think there is still some level of “Really? Are you actually going to spend?” But I thought “this is it – I’m never coming back here again”.
BM: This is the last hurrah. The other thing, with the cash vault where you had to spend $15. All I would think of was “right – just answer three questions”. As soon as I spent that… “come back, get those three questions, and go back to where you were before”. There is just something about those fast money rounds, Stephen. I just love the energy of those, that it’s like “bang, bang, bang – focus, focus, focus, and get it”. It was right at the end, the young lad at the end – the other contestant – just leant up the desk to me and said “Do you realise that you’ve been beaten us, combined… doubled?”. And I looked at my score, and it was his score and her score doubled.
SH: That’s your score.
BM: I said “I see what you mean. Wow – that’s fairly freaky”. As I said I like to write quizzes, and that was one of the things I offered to people. After Temptation, in my quizzes for a little while I actually had a round called “I Got It Wrong“, where I’d say “I’m going to ask you the question that I got wrong, exactly as it was asked.”
SH: That’s a neat idea.
BM: So I went back and watched all the episodes. Thankfully, my next door neighbours had put them all onto DVD for me. There was one episode, I think it’s the third one and that was the first episode of my second day back. That episode even scared me a little, because I did not get one question wrong. If I didn’t know it, I didn’t buzz in. If I knew it, I got it right. People sitting in the studio audience are future contestants which I thought was a bit brutal, all the contestants are there waiting and here comes little Jess, the contestant co-ordinator, and it’s a bit like France 1916; “we’re going over the top, lads! Who am I choosing?” They’re like “no, don’t put me up against him!” It really freaked people out, watching someone just demolish other contestants that way. I thought “Wow – it even freaks me out now, and I did the damn thing!” I kept going, I didn’t get one thing wrong. It really scares people.
I actually had a similar thing in Jeopardy!, when – I’m trying to remember the chap’s name and it’s awful I’ve forgotten his name – he was someone I remember from The Great Temptation in the 70s and he won a diamond ring. And he said “Oh, my wife and I always make the joke that ‘we swim in a diamond ring’, because we sold the ring and bought a swimming pool.”
BM: We were spread over two weeks and the second week I am coming back to Jeopardy!, I come down to the lobby, where we’re all being picked up and there he’s standing, and I’m like “Oh great… This man, who was a massive champion 15 years ago – they’ve wheeled him out”. But they never put him up against me and I actually did watch his episode of Jeopardy! and he was not as good. I found Jeopardy! champions didn’t tend to be great on Sale of the Century and vice versa. I am one of the few ones who was successful at both. In my run on Temptation, there was one particular woman from Brisbane who was particularly belligerent. I wouldn’t say passive-aggressive, but there was definite tension there and she was not going to let me beat her…
Ah, but for now, Blair, time (well, ‘word count’ to be more accurate) has beaten us both. To the uninitiated, I try to keep each weekly post on www.HowToWinGameShows.com to a roughly similar length. That’s why instalments of interviews often end on cliffhangers such as this week’s. Sorry for the suspense, everyone, but I just find it all generally works better that way.
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Okay, that’s it. Sales pitch is over now, and I’m sleepy. Have a great week, and I’ll see you next Tuesday for the next instalment of my interview with Blair!