EXCLUSIVE interview with behind-the-scenes game show legend Michael Whyte – Part V

Hello! As my exclusive interview with game show Producer / Executive Producer Michael Whyte continued, I got to wondering, after all the countless hours of game show entertainment he’d produced, how he thought he’d fare if he ever got the chance to go on the other side of the camera…

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SH: Have you ever been a contestant on a game show, and if you could be a contestant on any game show, which one would take your fancy? 

MW: I haven’t because I can’t. I always thought The Price is Right was so much fun. Anyone who’s ever worked on it will tell you that’s probably the best show they have ever worked on. If you talk to anyone who’s ever been in the audience or been a contestant they will tell you the same thing. What we used to do with that show was a show-within-a-show, so in the studio – even in commercial breaks and before we started recording and after we recorded – there was so much going on. The models would do dance routines, people out of the audience would come out and sing and carry on… It was just absolutely 100% all the time A Show. And everyone walked out of there absolutely rooted. But knowing that they’d had such a fantastic time. 

SH: This was back when it was at Festival Hall. 

MW: Yes, at Festival Hall. We then did it at the Entertainment Centre for Channel 10, an hour version with Turps (host Ian Turpie) again. And also at Channel 9 with Larry Emdur. When we produced it, that was the idea of the show; it was Total Entertainment. And in between all of that we played silly games and people won things. I think it is one of those things where after you’re writing cheques for so many people for vast sums of money and prizes, the amount of feedback and gifts that we got from the Price is Right contestants far outweighed anything that was ever sent to the crew or the production people for any other show.  If someone wins a million dollars they find it very difficult, and go “well, do I send a slab of beer, or what do I do? Do I send them $100,000? No, I can’t do that…” So the Price is Right people would have been baking cakes for people bringing food in. They’d turn up the next day with all sorts of things that they’ve got for the crew. Quite amazing. 

SH: That’s nice. 

MW: Oh, very much so. The vacuum cleaner and the fridge and the whippersnipper meant a lot more to them than a lot of other things that they’d ever won in their lives, or ever hope to win. 

SH: Earlier on, we were talking about Reg Grundy. Of course, he created a real game show empire with all of these shows all over the world. Did you work with him closely enough to get to know him?

MW: I did. I worked with him on some shows on Australia but more in particular when we went overseas. He was the owner of the empire but he was still available, you could call him or email him and say things like “I’m thinking about doing a rule change here or changing a segment here or doing something like this, what do you think?” You would be able to discuss that and ultimately he would say “look, it’s your territory, you make the decision. You’re best placed, because you’re there.” Because every territory is different. Sale of the Century, for example, in Greece was called The Boss Has Gone Mad. That was the title of the show. 

SH: Why was it called that?

MW: Because that was a phrase that they used in Greece; it’s the “Boss Has Gone Mad” Sale. 

SH:  What does that mean, though? Oh, I see. A sale with heavily reduced prices.

MW: Yeah. And Sale of the Century, the way that Reg put it together was “Here’s a Mercedes-Benz. Normally a Mercedes-Benz in those days is $50,000 but tonight you can win it for $600!”

SH: Yes, right.

MW: That was the key to it. But people would in the early days would ring up and say “Well, I’ll have 5!” 

SH: (LAUGHS) No, you can’t buy them for that! That’s not quite how it works… 

MW: (LAUGHING) Yeah! But that was the point. Sale of the Century is a funny title. I mean, we know it and we’re used to it, but you take that elsewhere and they go “it doesn’t work here. It is going to go better if we call it this”. 

================================================================  And if you’d like to take a peek at some of the international versions of Sale Of The Century, here’s a little YouTube video (courtesy of “MrMatchGame“) that shows some of the different incarnations of the show from various places around the world! 

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