EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Master’, Martin Flood – Part VI – The Conclusion

Martin Flood as ‘the MASTER’, in his big red chair.

 

This week, I wind up my chat with Martin Flood, regarding his tenure as ‘the MASTER’, on the Australian quiz show of the same name. As always, if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show, I’ve put an episode of it up over at the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page. It’s split into two parts, which can be found here and here

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SH: What fame or notoriety did the show give you? And how long did it
last?

MF: While the MASTER was airing, people came up and said hello when they
recognised me, especially when we were holidaying on the Gold Coast. One
woman, as she handed me my milkshake at Sea World, said “You’re Martin
Flood!” For a moment there, I thought she might have been a relative or
friend of a friend because it’s really weird being 1,000 km from home and
someone knows who you are. She was the only one to use my name. Everyone
else called me ‘the MASTER’. That was weird. When people called me that, I
felt so pompous. But as soon as it stopped airing, people stopped coming up
to me.

At the time, I was regularly volunteering for Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The
Streets. I was helping kids with their School’s Certificate or HSC study.
The kids didn’t know I had recently won a million dollars. Then they saw the
ads on TV for the MASTER. They were so excited that the guy they knew as Marty
was some kind of TV quiz guy who had his own TV show. I think that was a lot
of fun for them. But it was even more fun the next week, when the show was
cancelled… because they all really enjoyed ribbing me about it!

SH: If you were invited to be part of something similar tomorrow,
would you do it all again? Is there anything you’d do differently?

MF: I was invited to audition for The Chase. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to
do it, but I found the audition really fun.

With the MASTER, I would have focused more on my on-air persona. I needed
to have spoken with you and perhaps gotten you to write some of my lines. I
was so focused on studying and making sure I’d be really difficult to beat.
I didn’t want to give away free money. But – no surprise! – nothing of what I
studied came up in the eight episodes, so I could have gotten away with doing
no study. I think how I performed as a personality would have been far more
important.

SH: What do you think was the most important thing you learned from
your MASTER experience?

MF: TV is very deceptive. We all know that what we see on TV isn’t completely
real, and it’s usually edited. But I was surprised just how clever producers
are with the ‘magic of television’. I won’t give away any secrets, but I’m
sure you know them.

SH: That all happened in 2006 – what’s been your involvement with the
world of quiz shows and game shows since then?

MF: Nothing. But I like to watch.

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And so do we! I’d like to thank Martin for generously giving so much of his time for this interview, and taking us through his unique journey from game show contestant to game show star! I’m really very grateful to him. And ever so slightly jealous too, if I’m honest…

Next week, a special announcement, as I prepare to do something here at HowToWinGameShows.com that I’ve never before done, in the site’s entire four year history.

What could it be?

Check in next Tuesday, when All Will Be Revealed….

Until then, then!

 

EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Master’, Martin Flood – Part V

This is the penultimate part of my chat with Marty, and this week, we discuss the end of the show’s run, and the effect it had on him. But if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show first, remember that there’s an episode you can watch (in two parts) right here and here.

And now, on with the interview!

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SH: How many episodes of the MASTER were recorded?

MF: Eight in total. The first was cancelled after it was recorded as it really didn’t work. The producers decided to label it a “pilot episode”, not that that meant anything. All that mattered was that it wasn’t going to air. Those five contestants got to come back and were split apart into two other episodes. Two of them went on to win $33,300 and $42,300 on their respective episodes, so it worked out well for them.

SH: How many were shown?

MF: Six of the official seven were shown. I don’t really know why one wasn’t, but
there is always a chance your episode won’t air.

SH: Why did the show have such a short initial run?

MF: Some might say one episode is ‘short’ for its initial run… But others said
even that was too long! Personally, I blame the guy in the red chair. I
was told later however that the publicity department didn’t really do their
job and they apparently apologised to the producers later. Before the first
episode went to air, I did two interviews on radio – one in Queensland and one in
South Australia. Two radio interviews didn’t seem like a whole lot of publicity to me. I
remember thinking “couldn’t I just ring up some Sydney radio people myself (I
know a couple) and schedule a chat?”, but I didn’t want to step on anyone’s
toes. Perhaps I should have. When I watched the show, I thought it went
reasonably well. The only problem I had with it was watching myself. Whether
that was because my acting was so bad or because no one likes seeing
themselves act, I really can’t tell.

SH: How did the axing of the show affect you personally?

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EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Master’, Martin Flood – Part IV

Well, it’s a really big chunk of my chat with Marty this week, so we’ll get right into it. But if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the MASTER first, there’s an episode you can watch (in two parts) right here and here.

And now, on we go!

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SH: Watching the early part of the MASTER (in particular, from the 01:27 mark to the 02:05 mark), I notice that there’s a montage of you winning Who Wants To Be A Millionaire...

… Except that it’s not, because the Seven network doesn’t hold the rights. (I don’t think the host’s even allowed to mention the name of that show!) So that scene’s obviously a re-enactment. How did you find the experience of shooting that?

MF: Yes, you’re right. They couldn’t use the original footage, so I acted out
winning the million in a really big dark empty studio at Seven. It was the
same big empty studio you see me walking out of in the opening sequence of
the show. I found that difficult and a bit weird. At times I’m sure it
looked like the “Would that it were so simple” scene in Hail Caesar!, but when I just imagined I was really thinking through a quiz question, the producer was happy with how it came across. At least he didn’t scream at me, and for that producer (and you know who I’m talking about) that must have meant he was happy with how I performed.

SH: Your role as the Master required you to observe, interact with,
and compete against the contestants… did this give you any new insights on
the game show contestant experience, “from the other side of the podium”, as
it were?

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EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Master’, Martin Flood – Part III

The set of ‘the Master’, in between takes.

Hello! As Martin Flood and I continue discussing his time AS ‘the Master’ ON the MASTER, I wanted to find out about the birth of the show, and any teething troubles it may have had… So I asked him! 

But before that, just a quick reminder that there is an episode of the Master up on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page for you to watch. So if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show, the episode’s in two parts, and you can watch the first part here and the second part here.

And now, on we go!

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SH: As this was a brand new show, with a brand new format, I imagine that
quite a bit of tweaking and finessing was still taking place during
pre-production and early production. Was that the case? And if so, what form
did it take?

MF: When I was asked to be ‘the Master’, I think Seven had been working on the show
for quite some time. I was probably the last person to join the team. I
think someone from the production team had told me they had already tried
Red Symons as the Master. Originally, (Executive Producer) Grant Rule had imagined that the show would look like a wrestling match, where contestants would be called out of
the audience – much like The Price is Right – to come up on stage and take on
the Master. Perhaps they could have had Michael Buffer announcing “Let’s get
ready to …”

Or perhaps not.

By the time the people at Seven had vetted Grant’s original idea and decided on what they thought would be appropriate, the show looked very different.

SH: When it came to the production, how did you find actually being
the star of the show? What surprised you most about performing that
role?

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EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Master’, Martin Flood – Part II

Martin on the set of ‘the Master’

Hello! As Martin Flood and I continue discussing his time as ‘the Master’ on the quiz show of the same name, I wanted to go right back to the beginning, to find out how it all came about, and why he said yes. 

Oh, and just before we go any further… as I mentioned last week, I’ve put an episode of the MASTER up on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page. So if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show that we’re discussing… the episode’s in two parts, and you can watch the first part here and the second part here.

And now, on we go!

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SH: How were you initially approached to be ‘the Master’?

MF: I was sitting at work one day early in 2006, wondering what I was doing there
given how much money had recently come my way, when the phone rang. It was
some young bloke from Channel Seven, I guessed around 30ish. He sounded very
enthusiastic for all things television and asked if I’d be interested in
looking at a new quiz show they were producing. I didn’t know that he was
the legendary Grant Rule, executive producer of countless TV shows including
Countdown. He was actually 60 at the time. I think you know him, Hally, and I
guess you might understand why he sounded so much younger over the phone.

SH: What made you say yes?

MF: You did.

SH: Really?

MF: Yes. I had never imagined anything past winning on Millionaire. I had visualised
so much about winning the million, but all my visualisations stopped at Eddie
handing me the cheque. I thought it was possible something else might come
along, but being a TV guy was never one of my dreams or goals. The thought of
being a regular on a TV show was just too foreign for me… let alone being the
eponymous ‘Master’ and star of my own TV show! Of course it wasn’t my show; I think Mark Beretta was the real star as he really suited and played
his role as host perfectly. So I asked a number of friends if they thought I
should do it and they all said yes. The last person I asked was you, after
trivia at Bondi RSL one night. Regardless of how we both thought the show
would turn out, you said “Of course you have to do it! That goes without
saying”. For better or worse, you convinced me with that.

SH: Okay, no pressure…. So who or what was the character of ‘the Master’? Were you just playing yourself?

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EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Master’, Martin Flood – Part I

Hello! So this week sees the first instalment of my EXCLUSIVE interview with Martin Flood; Who Wants To Be A Millionaire winner and star of the 2006 Australian game show the Master. I was really curious about Marty’s time as the star of this brand new format, so I grilled him on every aspect of it, from its creation, to its gameplay, to the effect it had on his career and his life. He was very generous with his time, and I’m very grateful to him. Now, if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show we’ll be discussing…

As I mentioned last week, I’ve put an episode of the Master up on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page. It’s in two parts, and you can watch the first part here and the second part here.

Or, if you’d just prefer to dive right in to the interview… Here it is!

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SH: Marty, thanks for talking to me today about the Master, for HowToWinGameShows.com. For those who don’t know (or who may have not done their homework!), what was the format of the Master?

MF: Five contestants would compete against each other, much like Sale of the Century, Temptation and Million Dollar Minute. The winner would then take on
‘The Master’ in the endgame, in a literal face-to-face best of five
questions (multiple choice).

There were some variations on the Sale of the Century theme. In all but one
round, contestants did not lose points if they answered incorrectly. They
would only be locked out of the next question if they were wrong. This
format was also played out on Seven’s Million Dollar Minute. Which reminds
me; the ‘points’ they received for each correct answer was $100, which they
got to keep. Nice touch by the producers. So most went home with some money.
There was only one round where contestants would lose cash for incorrect
answers. Each contestant would be asked a list of questions from their
‘preferred subject’. Correct answers scored $100, while incorrect answers
lost them $200. Most contestants seemed to go backwards, so the producers
decided to call it ‘The Master’s Mean Minute’. What would we do without
alliteration?

The winner of the five contestants would be given $50,000 on top of their winnings from
the rounds. Then Mark Beretta, the host, would ask how much of the $50,000
they were prepared to risk against me, the Master. They could risk anything
from $10,000 to the whole $50,000. If they risked it all, they got to decide
on the subject, otherwise I would decide. If they risked $10,000 they played
for $100,000 total. If they risked $20,000 they played for $200,000 total
etc. But if they risked all $50,000, instead of playing for $500,000 (as you
might expect), they got to play for $1,000,000 and the chance to become the
new Master! For some viewers, I think the numbers might have been a little
complicated but I think the basic idea of “how much will you risk?” was quite
clever. I assumed most would risk $40,000 (leaving them $10,000 to take home, guaranteed) and play for the $400,000, but most only ever risked $10,000 (keeping $40,000 to take home) and played for $100,000. That really surprised me. In truth, many really should have gone for the million, as some of their Preferred Subjects were my
worst nightmares, and they could have beaten me easily.

The end game was like a soccer penalty shootout – best of five.
Theoretically, the quickest game could finish with 3-0 (no point in going on
from there)… but in one case, the contestant and I went to 5-5 and into a
sudden death playoff. Interestingly, both the producer and the executive
producer had confided in me at separate times that they hoped the final
score would not be 5-0 as that wouldn’t make good television. Each time I pointed out that a clean sweep in a ‘best of five’ game stops at 3-0, whereas a 5-0 result could only happen in a ‘first to 5’ game. I would then politely ask them if they were sure they knew how this quiz show worked, especially given that they had designed it.
I think the producers found such smug remarks of mine quite delightful.

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No doubt! Next week, our discussion moves on to cover how Marty was approached, why he said yes, and the tricky territory of playing the character of “the Master”…. So, we’ll see you then!

 

My next EXCLUSIVE interview, and your homework, should you choose to accept it….

Hello! I hope you enjoyed last week’s (and the week before’s) interview with Millionaire Hot Seat Executive Producer Steve Gilbert. He was great to talk to, and I think there were some really good Who Wants To Be A Millionaire tips in our chat, for anyone interested in going on that show.

Next week, the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire theme sort of continues, as I begin my next exclusive interview. You may recall that way back in August 2013, I interviewed Australia’s second Who Wants To Be A Millionaire millionaire Martin Flood. Well, after his big win, he was approached for a pivotal on-air role in a new Australian quiz show that was being developed at the time. It was called The Master, and it pitted Martin against 5 members of the general public, who would try to beat him in a quiz format where the top prize was one million dollars.

I recently spoke to Marty about this experience in great detail, and I’m pleased to say that the resulting interview will be here in its entirety over the next few weeks. It’s fascinating stuff – Marty takes us right through the entire process, from initially being approached, through the making of the show, to its conclusion and all the public recognition he attracted  along the way as a result.

As I say, it’s a far-reaching discussion, and I suspect that you may get a bit more out of it if you have a working knowledge of the show. And so to that end, I’ve popped an episode of it up on the How To Win Game Shows Facebook page. The video is in two parts (here and here), and its total duration is just under 50 minutes.

So that’s your homework for next week, if you choose to accept it; watch the episode of The Master that’s over at Facebook.com/HowToWinGameShows. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it, you’ll undoubtedly learn a few useful quiz facts, and you’ll be all set for next week’s post, when my interview with ‘The Master’ himself – Martin Flood – begins!

Until next Tuesday, then!

EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Executive Producer Steve Gilbert – Part II

‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Executive Producer Steve Gilbert… doing a little bit of brushing up….

Hello!

This week, my 2-part interview with Millionaire Hot Seat Executive Producer Steve Gilbert concludes, and I wanted to start by seeing if he had any words of wisdom about when to use the show’s built-in lifelines…

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SH: Are there certain times when it’s strategically best to use the ‘lifelines’?

SG: Yep. If they don’t know the answer!

Firstly, with Hot Seat, it’s only this year that we extended the show to an hour. We have added the ‘Fastest Finger First’ element of the “classic” format back in to Hot Seat.

15 questions are asked of all 6 contestants. Whoever is the fastest overall wins $1000 that they may keep or use to buy a lifeline when they get in the Hot Seat for the main game. These lifelines are slightly different to the “classic” format. They are: 50/50Ask A Friend and Switch. The contestant may use only one of these lifelines once during the main game. This has worked really well for some contestants this year, helping them win some big money.

SH: So, in the Hot Seat format, when is it advisable for contestants to use these?

SG: 50/50…If you have absolutely no idea of any of the options offered, then to use this lifeline is risky as you’ll simply be left with two answers you still don’t know. But it’s a great lifeline to use if you are throwing up between two answers.

Switch…You can elect to get rid of the question you have and get a completely new question. This is probably the most popular lifeline, but again risky, as you may get something else you have no idea about.

Ask a Friend… This really depends on who your friend in the audience is. If, for instance, you’re faced with a cricket question and you have brought your brother along who plays cricket for Australia, then I’d be using this lifeline. Totally depends on the question being faced and who the potential friend is.

SH: Thanks Steve, great tips. Just jumping back to 2009 for a moment, where did the format for Millionaire Hot Seat originate, and how did it come to be on Australian TV at 5:30 on weeknights?

SG: Well, I started with Millionaire back in 2003. The format is owned by a company in the UK. It was then Two Way Traffic, now it’s Sony Pictures. In 2006, the “classic” version of the show was rested, as Eddie (McGuire, the show’s host) took over as the company CEO (of the Nine Network – the channel that broadcast Millionaire). I was sent a copy of a version done in Poland I think, where they played the show as musical chairs. It was sent to me in the hope we could develop this into a half-hour format. Between us we shaped it into what is today “Hot Seat”.

SH: And, from your perspective, who have been the best contestants on Millionaire Hot Seat?

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EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Executive Producer Steve Gilbert – Part I

‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Executive Producer Steve Gilbert… doing a bit of research!

Hello!

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….

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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?

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‘It Took Two’… Part III

As I wrap up the whole It Takes Two adventure this week, I look back at some of the other highlights of the show, as the imminent arrival of our baby draws nearer and nearer… 

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As you’ll recall from a couple of weeks ago, I signed on to It Takes Two on the understanding that I’d have to leave about half way through the series of 10 episodes, as that was when my wife Judi was due to give birth to our baby. The pregnancy was far from trouble-free for her, though, as she was suffering from bad hyperemesis. She was nauseous, rundown and depressed; essentially bed-ridden. I remember at one stage in those first five weeks rushing her to hospital; we were certain that the baby was going to arrive early – that day – and we were both frightened. All the signs were there, Judi was having what we thought were contractions… They kept us both in there for quite a few hours, until we were finally given the all clear. The baby was fine, it was not going to make an appearance today. It had been a false alarm. So, more than a little rattled, we returned home, to Judi’s sick bed there. To be leaving Judi for these weekly 2-3 day trips down to Melbourne (800 km away from where we were living, in Sydney) was getting harder and harder…

Having said that, once the first couple of episodes of It Takes Two were done, and we’d streamlined our systems of putting the show together, there were some great moments…

One of them was getting to meet – and work with – Ross Wilson, who was one of the judges on the show. This man is a living legend of Australian rock. From fronting Daddy Cool in the early 70s – with their massive hit Eagle Rock, to producing Skyhooks in the mid 70s, when they were at the height of their fame. I also remembered him from my teenage years, as the songwriter and frontman of the band Mondo Rock, who had a number of hits, and whose albums I owned. I was so impressed to meet him, and he was a lovely, humble, chatty bloke. Nice when you meet people you admire and they turn out to be like that.

Another highlight was hearing – live – the incredible voice of Guy Sebastian. He’d been partnered up with Olympic swimmer Sarah Ryan for the show, and the contrast between their levels of talent was, well, noticeable...

I’ll never forget one of the first episodes, when they performed the old standard Beyond The Sea. I was standing at the side of the stage, watching the show as it all unfolded live, and Sarah had been given the first verse. She got the timing right and hit all the notes. And then Guy sang… It was amazing – I was completely unprepared for the smoothness, the brilliance, the soulfulness of his voice. I got goosebumps. I was so surprised at my reaction. Just marvellous. (Fun fact: Guy Sebastian was the first ever Australian singer to represent our country in The Eurovision Song Contest, in 2015.)

One morning in the third or fourth week, as I was due to fly down to Melbourne, Judi was really sick. Sicker than usual. I wanted to stay with her, but I had to go to work; people were counting on me. I left the house, got in the car, started my drive to the airport, and stopped.

I thought “What am I doing?”

What had my priorities become?

I turned around, went back home, rang the Executive Producers and explained the situation to them. Both EPs – Julie Ward (now having great success with The Voice) and Lisa Fitzpatrick (who later became an executive at the network) – were very sympathetic, and understood entirely. “Don’t give us a second thought,” they said.

So I quit. If my child was going to be born early, I didn’t want to miss out. I didn’t want to be 800 km away. I could never have lived with myself, knowing I missed that once-in-a-lifetime event due to nothing more important than an episode of It Takes Two. (No doubt Judi wouldn’t have been too happy, either.) I mean, we weren’t curing cancer here, people. And it’s not every day you welcome your own child into the world.

I left the show, and stayed in Sydney, with my wife, as we counted down the days…

Predictably enough, the show managed without me. Down in Melbourne, one of the associate producers – who’d previously worked on Dancing With The Stars – took over my role. She confided to me, much later, that it was one of the most stressful gigs she’d ever done. The series was a success, though, and it went right through, as planned, until August 8th. For those keeping score at home, (model and actress) Erika Heynatz and (opera singer) David Hobson went on to win the series…

… While up in Sydney, on July 11th 2006, Lily Genevieve Hall was born, happy and healthy.

Our very own duo had become a trio.