‘Letters and Numbers’ and what might have been… Part II.

Hello!

If you saw last week’s post, catchily titled That Time I Auditioned For The Australian Version Of That Long-Running Quiz Show ‘Countdown’ Up In Sydney in 2010, you’ll know that I’d been asked to audition to host, and that Matt Parkinson had too. Now read on….

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The other contender for the host role on the day – who loomed very large – was Silvio Rivier. Silvio was an SBS personality, who’d been at the network since 1980, and had worked in a number of roles there, but most notably, as the long term presenter of Global Village. I didn’t meet him on the day, but I did note that he walked through the foyer with a deal of self-assurance. I thought that his appointment as host of Letters and Numbers was a lay down misere. He was already part of the SBS family, and for a network with multicultural diversity at its very core, I thought he was a far more attractive option for them than ‘white-bread’ me…. and similarly ‘white-bread’ Matt Parkinson. I was absolutely certain that Silvio would get the gig, and that they’d only got Matt and me there for a bit of variety, and to maybe see a couple of different takes on the role. Perhaps they figured they could work anything they liked from our performances in to Silvio‘s performance, when he got the gig.

Silvio Rivier

Afterwards, Matt and I shared a taxi back to the airport, had a well-earned beer in the airport bar, and sat next to each other again on the plane back to Melbourne. We were philosophical. I’d done what I did (which is being me, and nobody else can be me), and he did what he did (which is being him, and nobody else can be him). Now it was in the lap of the gods. Either;

  • They wanted Matt to host Letters and Numbers,
  • They wanted me to host Letters and Numbers, or
  • They wanted someone else to host Letters and Numbers.

Neither of us felt we’d missed any opportunities in our auditions, or left anything in the tank. Back at Melbourne Airport, we shook hands, jumped into our separate taxis and went home.

Flying up to Sydney to audition and then flying home again afterwards is something that I’ve done a few times. I always find it to be quite an exhausting day; it’s essentially 3 to 4 hours of travel, and then TURN ON THE CHARM AND GIVE IT ALL YOU’VE GOT and then another 3 to 4 hours of travel to get home again. Nervous energy levels do tend to go up and down a bit on days like those.

A couple of weeks later, I found out that I didn’t get the gig.

And that Matt Parkinson didn’t get the gig.

And that Silvio Rivier didn’t get the gig either.

The job of hosting Letters and Numbers went to former newsreader Richard Morecroft.

Richard Morecroft

So much for my “no white-bread” theory! I was really pleased to see that Lily got the gig of the glamorous mathematician, and she did it brilliantly and charmingly, and it has since led to a lot of other things for her. So happy for her – she was a really lovely person.

Lily Serna

When I watched the show, and saw Richard’s style of hosting, I thought “Well, that’s what he does, and that’s obviously what they wanted”. In my audition, I offered something quite different, which obviously wasn’t what they wanted. Which brings me to something I always try to remind myself, whenever I audition for anything… “Just do you. Nobody else can do you, and you do it really well. If you doing you doesn’t fit into their project, then so be it. But if you doing you does fit into their project, you’re golden!” Being chosen or not chosen for jobs like this is never personal;  It’s just whether I happen to be a jigsaw piece that fits into their puzzle… or not.

The postscript to all of this is that although the French version of the show is still running after more than 20,000 episodes, and the English version is still running after more than 6000, episodes, the Australian version of the show was cancelled after 450 episodes, for whatever reason. It’s a shame; Letters and Numbers was a friendly, fun show that took pleasure in celebrating smart people.

And in the current landscape, I reckon there’s not enough of that about.

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