Firstly, an apology for the fact that I didn’t post here last Tuesday.
I was away on a little family holiday, enjoying a bit of R & R, so HowToWinGameShows.com wasn’t front and centre in my mind. It is this week, though, and today, our guest blogger Ryan Vickers returns, with Episode 6 of his game show adventures. And coincidentally enough, this time, it’s all about a certain holiday that HE took, and how game shows DID remain front and centre in HIS mind while he was away. Over to you, Ryan.
My Life In Game Shows
Episode 6: A cult classic – ‘Countdown’, 2009
In 2009 I embarked on a year-long adventure. I took leave from work and was determined to fulfil many goals that required different timing than my job would normally allow. In addition to wanting to see game show tapings – and I ended up seeing 12 different tapings on three different continents, which I’ll talk about in a future post – I also wanted to BE on another game show in a completely different country. I set my sights on the UK – I had previously lived there and was familiar with many of their game shows.
I ended up downloading three application forms – Going For Gold, The Weakest Link and Countdown. Of the three, I decided to focus on Countdown as I felt I would be at less of a disadvantage because the other two required knowledge that may have been Euro-centric.
PRO TIP: If you’re serious about getting on a game show, make sure to pick one that plays to your strength. Ask yourself where you feel the most confident – Words? General knowledge? Audience participation? Talent based? – and focus on that.
Initially I tried to email the application but it bounced for whatever reason. So I went old school and sent off a letter in early June of 2009. A week later, I received an email from the associate producer with the first line stating “Thank you for your application for Countdown – although we were a little surprised to see the Canadian address!”.
PRO TIP: If you’re thinking about applying for a game show in another region, DO IT! The worst they can say is no. And if they say “sure, we can accept your application”, they will probably be very accommodating. Shows really like contestants from “far away”!
To speak to that tip, the associate producer arranged not only to do an audition over the phone but also made sure that a tape date would work with my travelling that fall. As a result, that November I found myself on the set of Countdown taping an episode.
Countdown was a wonderful experience but is very much a quiet affair. It has great play-along value both in the studio and at home. Which leads me to my next piece of advice.
PRO TIP: Seek out any ways to practice the game you can. Don’t only watch the show as it is currently running (which tends to be difficult if you’re not in the normal viewing circle) but seek out past episodes on sites like YouTube. Play the home game, find online stand-alone or multiplayer games too. Perhaps the show has an official game on the Apple Store or Google Play and if not, find a knock-off version. If all else fails, build yourself your own practice set. Many games allow this – Countdown for example only required me to make decks of consonants, vowels, and a series of numbers.
On the show I had thirty seconds with the clock going to either find a longest word or do a calculation. This time goes by quickly!
PRO TIP: Focus on the task at hand. I learned to block out the clock’s accompanying music only until the last few beats when there was a tempo change, so as to confirm my answer. Focusing on the task at hand also means making sure to not worry about other things going on around you in the studio, which you likely can’t control.
Although Countdown did hand me my first game show loss (and yes, I’m well aware of this site’s name but sometimes you don’t always win, sadly!) I made sure to take lessons from it. In retrospect, I would have prepared differently using more online resources. However this did help me for future game show outings!
Thanks Ryan, some great tips there. For those of you in Australia, the equivalent show here was Letters and Numbers, which ran on SBS from 2010 to 2012. It was hosted by journalist / newsreader Richard Moorecroft, although one of the hopefuls who auditioned to host the particular show was in fact….. me.
But that’s another story, and one which I’ll be relating soon, right here at HowToWinGameShows.com!