We’re back to the interviews this week, and I’m delighted to have scored one with the Executive Producer of Millionaire Hot Seat, Mr. Steve Gilbert. Steve is a real game show producing veteran, having produced the classic version of Millionaire here in Australia, as well as this new version. I figured he’d be expertly placed to provide advice and tips for anyone interested in appearing on either of these shows, so that’s exactly what I asked him about….
SH: Hello Steve, and thank you for talking to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com. You’ve served as Executive Producer of Millionaire Hot Seat since it debuted in Australia in 2009. Before that, you were Producer and then Executive Producer of the classic format of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? For our overseas visitors, can you explain the difference between Millionaire Hot Seat and the original WWTBAM format?
SG: Certainly. The “original” or “classic” format of the show was billed more as a drama than a quiz show. As the contestants had as long as they liked to think about the question AND they could take the money at the level they were then playing for, there was more drama involved as they struggled to decide to back themselves with an answer or take the money. With Hot Seat however, the questions run to set times; 15 seconds for the first 5, 30 seconds for the next 5 and 45 seconds for the last 5. This gave us a chance to then develop the show down from the one hour classic format to a brighter, more fun half-hour version more suited to the 5.30 time slot.
SH: Back in those WWTBAM days, (1999 – 2006), any memories of the most impressive contestants?
SG: Without a doubt it would be Rob Fulton, our first “Million Dollar winner”. He had seen a clairvoyant several years before who had suggested that she could see a lot of money in the next few years for him. He had done years and years of research on all sorts of subjects and had filled dozens of exercise books with miles of notes of seemingly “useless” information.
SH: What did he do, do you think, that set him apart?
SG: He stayed calm and collected. He played the game perfectly by taking his time and working logically through the options.
* Longtime visitors to HowToWinGameShows.com may remember that I interviewed Rob about his Millionaire journey, back in July 2015. Here’s a link to our chat.
SH: And what traits did the worst contestants have?
SG: They rush and don’t read the question properly. Or just simply panic. They are on national TV with Eddie (McGuire, the show’s host) sitting in front of them. This can be pretty intimidating to many people, who after all, are just your average “man in the street”.
SH: How often do you see contestants’ nerves get the better of them?
SG: I see it happen every time we record. It does not matter how many times you try to explain things to them, for many it can be overwhelming, and logic goes straight out the door.
SH: Do any of them have good tricks or techniques for dealing with nerves?
SG: Everyone deals with these things differently. I would simply say read the question and stay calm. It’s not surgery, no one is going to die.
SH: You must have seen hundreds of Millionaire contestants over that time; what were the three most common mistakes you saw them make?
SG: Not reading the question properly,
getting caught up in the buzz of being in a TV studio and
forgetting simple game rules. For example, if you have a pass available, use it if you don’t know the question.
SH: Of the biggest winners, what was the one thing that drew them together?
SG: Talking from the Hot Seat side, simply the way the game played out and who ended up in the chair for the final question. Then of course if they get it correct. As that may be from guessing to actually knowing, at the end of the day the big similarity is that they have a nice big “chunk of change” as Eddie would say, in their pocket!
Next week, in the second and final part of our interview, Steve has some fantastic tips about exactly when to use your lifelines, we explore the history of this new version of Millionaire, and he shares his Top Three Tips for anyone wanting to go on the show!
Until then, then!