My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Price Is Right’, ‘Wheel of Fortune’, ‘Family Feud’, ‘Deal Or No Deal’, and more… Mr John Deeks! Part IV

Deeksie hosting ‘Family Feud’, in 1996!

Hello!

This week, as my chat with John Deeks continues, we go back to 1996, when his position as a self-confessed “Level 2” game show guy (that is, behind the scenes, rather than out the front) is all about to change….

===========================

SH: You mentioned that you’re happy to have that supportive – and supporting – role.

JD: Yeah very happy.

SH: And yet, in 1996, you ended up hosting Family Feud! Let’s talk about Family Feud. 

JD: I didn’t ask for it, they rang me. I can see it now; I was in the car. Who was that pompous, officious bloke who used to work at Channel Seven, in production?

SH: You’ll need to narrow it down! 

JD: Yes, I know! Anyway, he rang me up and said “We’d like you to take over the hosting of Family Feud in Brisbane. We are replacing Robert Brough.”

I said “Can I think about it?” That surprised him; I think everybody would sell their mother for a shot at hosting a national show.

SH: A coveted role!

JD: And he’s said “THINK ABOUT IT?!” Anyway, it turned out it was Grundy’s who wanted to replace Brough, and they thought that I would be sensational. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t audition for it; I was a very happy camper where I was. So I said “I will…. but I’m not going to give up my booth work, or my announcing work”. 

He said “But you’ll be a TV star! This’ll go forever!”

I said “Oh yeah, righto. But I’m not giving it up” and they go “Oh, alright”. The next thing I know, I’m on a plane, I arrive in Brisbane – a parochial town – I’m up the top of the mountain – Mount Coot-tha, at BTQ and I’m shaking hands with Rob Brough, and he’s saying “Ah well, here I am, handing over the reins here…”

SH: How was he feeling about it all?

JD: Oh, he would have been dreadfully unhappy about it.

SH: Right.

JD: Because he hadn’t done anything wrong! So anyway, I’m on the set and all the crew – who loved Rob – are there, the producer is there, everyone is there… and here I am, shaking hands with Rob, who says to everyone “I’d like you to meet the new host”. And I’m thinking this really is one of those surreal moments. To add to that, my father had died just three days before I went to Brisbane.

SH: Oh no, Deeksie… 

JD: It was just one of those surreal times.

Look, I thought the whole thing was okay; I didn’t mind it. I just went through the motions, because I was always on a set anyway with the talent, so it wasn’t an unfamiliar place. And I had been doing on-camera stuff for a long time. But the thing I remember the most was Brian Mallen – the General Manager of Channel Seven at the time – saying something to me. It was about a month before the Olympics in Atlanta. I was out the front of Channel Seven, and he turned around as he was coming in – I was going out – and he stopped. He said “Deeksie we got big things planned for you!”

I rang my wife up and said, “I’m f***ed”.

SH: That was the Kiss of Death?

JD: Two weeks later they pulled the show, apparently because they wanted to save money and the Olympics was starting. (In commerical voiceover mode) “The following program is bought to you by Swisse; you’ll feel better on Swisse!” Thank God I didn’t give the booth away…

SH: Indeed, indeed. How long did Family Feud last for you?

JD: Oh, about a year… but it wasn’t a role I coveted, it wasn’t something I wanted to do.

SH: It just came your way.

JD: It was like “Well, that was interesting!” I got some nice new Raoul Merton shoes out of it, and a couple of suits, nice! They let me keep those. (LAUGHS).

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Well, there’s a lot to be said for Raoul Merton shoes. 

 Next week, our conversation covers Press Your Luck, Jeopardy, and what Deeksie thinks makes a good game show contestant… 

Cheers!

Hello!

Just a quick, non-Tuesday post to heartily THANK everyone who supported me – and donated to the FebFast cause – over the past 28 days.

Generally, I think Febfast was a success – I only took one 24-Hour Leave Pass towards the end of the month (thank you, Ed Dolista!) – and I managed to raise nearly $600 ($589.24, to be exact) for young people living with serious disadvantage.

So again, thank you to all of you who supported me (and those of you who put up with me)…. and cheers!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Price Is Right’, ‘Wheel of Fortune’, ‘Family Feud’, ‘Deal Or No Deal’, and more… Mr John Deeks! Part III

John Deeks

Hello!

And welcome to the third instalment of my chat with The Man With The Golden Voice; John Deeks! And if you’d like to hear a little sample of that famous voice, just click on the audio file in the top right corner of this page.

When we left off last week, we were discussing the Australian version of the game show institution that IS Wheel Of Fortune. It was a show that Deeksie provided the voice for, for over two decades, so I felt I just had to ask him….

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SH: The different Wheel of Fortune hosts that came and went over the years… what were some of the differences that you noticed between them?

JD: “Turps” was a man of the people he was out there, and the crew loved him and he loved the crew; he just loved people. He was as open as the people were, and he was up for anything. He was true ‘Leagues Club“. 

SH: Yeah.

JD: Burgo, though, was a different kettle of fish, he was more reserved. I would be the everyman and he was sort of above all that, and Adrey, of course, was just gorgeous.

SH: Rob Elliott did it for a while.

JD: Rob Elliott did it for a while, yes absolutely. Rob was great, but he was the most reluctant host I’ve ever known. He wasn’t quite depressive, but he was “Oh, the system hates me”. Eventually he said to the network, “Look I just don’t think I can do this anymore”, and they said………… “Yep, fair enough” and they got someone else.

SH: So his heart wasn’t in it?

JD: His heart wasn’t in it. Then Steve Oemcke did it for a short time, believe it or not.

SH: Did he have a background in sports?

JD: No he has a production company, WTFN and he’s a great guy, a lovely guy. But I tell you, Stephen, I’m just so fortunate because I was offered to go to New Zealand to host Wheel of Fortune over there. And thank God I didn’t take it, because I’m better as the ‘Level 2’ man; I’ll take level 2, because I love supporting the talent. I love it, I really do! I don’t want to be out the front, supporting these amazing hosts. For a long time, as you know, I worked with Andrew O’Keefe (who hosted Deal Or No Deal) who is without question the best performer I have ever worked with in my life. He’s so disciplined in front of the camera. He can come in, learn and process a whole load of information that would take a whole year for me, and he would do it in one night. And he would come in and he would perform on his feet all day, interacting with people, laughing, joking… and you wouldn’t know that he’d had a big night the night before.

SH: And was probably going to have a big night after the record, too. 

JD: Exactly.

SH: Unstoppable.

JD: Loads of heart, a man of the people, funny to work with, and we shared the same wicked sense of humour, too. So I miss him dreadfully to work with. Pretty much everyone I’ve worked with has been very generous, because they’ve got that I’m not a threat. I don’t want their job. I want to make them look the best they can. It was like when I used to work with Debbie (Debbie Phin, with whom Deeksie hosted lotto draws for years) or anyone I work with on camera; the better I can make them look, the better I look, the better the whole thing looks.

SH: That’s right.

JD: But it’s got to come from the heart. 

SH: Exactly. You mentioned that you’ve always been happy to have that supportive – and supporting – role.

JD: Yeah, very happy. 

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…. AND YET, as we’ll see next week, Deeksie is about to be thrust into the spotlight, as the host of one of the most beloved game shows of all time.

How did that come about?

How did he handle it?

And how long did it last?

My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Price Is Right’, ‘Wheel of Fortune’, ‘Family Feud’, ‘Deal Or No Deal’, and more… Mr John Deeks! Part II

John Deeks

Hello!

And welcome to the second instalment of my interview with TV game show voice over legend John Deeks.

Before we go any further, I’d like to thank John for very kindly recording a little welcome announcement for the site, which you can see on the top right corner of this page! If you click on it, you’ll hear his dulcet tones bidding you a warm welcome, as only he can.

But now, as we pick up our conversation, we’re still discussing the Melbourne version of The Price Is Right which was shot at Festival Hall back in the eighties…

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JD: It was a huge show with massive sets, with lots of cars, and a huge audience, in the right part of town.

SH: How many were in the audience? 

JD: Oh, 300 – 400. It was jolly big.

SH: For a studio audience for a TV show, that’s very big.

JD: Huge. And the later versions were never on that scale; when we tried to do The New Price Is Right, they really cheapened it. They did it in this tiny studio in Sydney, Larry Emdur was the host, and I think they gave away like a Goggomobil; it was one of the cheapest cars you could find.

SH: As you say, you were the voice of the show and you did its warm ups, from a position in the audience. As such, you would have watched thousands of episodes; would that be fair to say?

JD: Yes.

SH: Were there any times when you were watching, thinking, “No – don’t do that! You’re supposed to be doing this”?

JD: The best people we had – and this applies to all of the shows – except where intelligence is really required, (and thank God I never worked on shows where intelligence was a prerequisite! And I mean that with love). I’ve never worked on a Sale of The Century, that sort of show; they’ve all been game shows and I love the format of the game show; I love the repetitive nature of it; I just really, really enjoy it. You either do or you don’t. I did. But the common thread amongst all those people is that they were natural. They gave of themselves. You can’t have too many barriers; you have to say “Here I am, World!” 

SH: Warts and all?

JD: Yeah, warts and all. The best ones were the ones who had character; they would come out and just be themselves. If they had friends in the audience they could interact with them, so we’d shoot them as well and they got the game. Because I always told the audience, “You are part of the production process. We just come along with this template every week. The template works and now it’s up to you to put the flavour in it.”

SH: And you were also the voice of Wheel of Fortune from 1984-2006.

JD: 22 years, yeah!

SH: Incredible! So again that must have been thousands of episodes, maybe tens of thousands of episodes?

JD: Stop counting.

SH: Sorry.

JD: No, not you – I did.

SH: Oh, you stopped counting.

JD: Yeah, yeah.

SH: I see. Was that always in Adelaide?

JD: Yes it was. Until (co-host) Adriana ran out of husbands, and then we moved it to Sydney.

SH: Right.

JD: Well, there was a bigger pool…

(LAUGHTER)

SH: Yes, sure.

JD: And also, (host) John (Burgess) needed to get new leather pants.

SH: Right.

JD: We’d fly there every Friday to record five shows, and sometimes we had to do ten. It was like; “Oh my God – we are doing ten shows; five on a Friday, five on a Saturday as well!” But now, of course, they’re always churned out that way; ka-chunka, ka-chunka, ka-chunka!

SH: The show had a few hosts over that time… starting with Ernie Sigley, I think?

JD: Ernie was there… and then I was going to be the host after Ernie left.

SH: Interesting!

JD: But I was doing The Price is Right at the same time, and they said “No, you can’t do that; you’ll have to stay on The Price is Right.”

SH: These are both Seven Network productions?

JD: Yeah. So I’ve said “Oh, okay.” Then of course a little time later Price finished, and over at Wheel of Fortune in Adelaide, the guy who’d been doing my job (the voice job), was cleaning leaves out of his gutter, and fell off the ladder.

That I pushed.

And they asked if I could come over for the weekend to do shows, and I said “Sure, but I want to do the warm up as well”. They said “Knock yourself out, kid” (because that was what I was used to doing on The Price Is Right.So I came over one weekend, and 20 years later…  I’m still receiving death threats from the guy who I –

(LAUGHTER)

SH: Can he walk again?

JD: I felt terrible about that night.

SH: That’s showbiz.

JD: It is showbiz, and you know what they say; “Never take a holiday”.

SH: Never take a holiday.

JD: Or clean out the gutters.

SH: Or clean out the gutters.

==================================================================

Mmm. Good advice for us all.

Join us here next week, for Part III, when Deeksie discusses Wheel of Fortune‘s various hosts, and reveals his favourite Australian game show host of all time! 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Price Is Right’, ‘Wheel of Fortune’, ‘Family Feud’, ‘Deal Or No Deal’, and more… Mr John Deeks! Part I

The incomparable John Deeks

Hello!

This week, I’m very pleased to bring you Part I of my latest exclusive interview for HowToWinGameShows.com. I was delighted, recently, to get the chance to talk to a real Living Legend of the Australian game show landscape. This man has been the voice behind THOUSANDS of episodes of our favourite game shows. He was the voice of Wheel Of Fortune, he was the voice of The Price Is Right, he’s a former host of Family Feud, and after almost 40 years in television, he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down…

He’s also a really lovely bloke, as well. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the one and only John Deeks!

================================================================== SH: John Deeks, thank you so much for talking to me for HowToWinGameShows.com.

JD: My pleasure, Stephen.

SH: It has been – and continues to be – a very long and illustrious career, but I want to take you back to the early eighties, to start with. You were the voice of the Australian version of The Price Is Right from 1981 to 1985.

JD: The Price Is Right was a fantastic show and it was the first game show I did. For a start, we were doing it at Festival Hall, which was massive. And it was the first time I had worked with Ian Turpie. And I had seen him many years before at the HSV Teletheatre in Fitzroy, when my mum took me to see a show and I remember being in the audience and seeing him and Olivia Newton-John. This was in a show called Time For Terry…. back in the 1800s.

(LAUGHTER)

JD: So Festival Hall was sensational, and the audience was mostly made up of our European friends. Because over on Channel 9 you had Tony Barber doing Sale of the Century, where you had to know who the third King of Prussia was (and that wasn’t a question, so don’t answer it, smartarse)*… they couldn’t get that, but they knew how much a fridge was.

SH: Which is what that show is.

JD: Exactly. And our audience had a very large Maltese contingent. There was one instance… and I should point out that I had requested that I do audience warmup as well as being the show’s announcer, so I was integrated into the audience. And Ian Turpie would throw to me and I would say “Mary Vostopopolous! Come on down!”  And Mary on this particular day jumped up – and back in the early 80s, boobtubes were very popular…

SH: Yes…

JD: You know where this is going, don’t you?

SH: I have a rough idea.

JD: And Mary Vostopopolous was a fulsome middle aged lady. So Mary leapt up, and they caught her on camera and, as she ran down to the stage, her very fulsome bosoms went NorthSouthNorthSouthNorthSouthNorthSouth. And as she charged down the stairs, with her arms outstretched, Mary’s top started to slide and slide and slide… and by the time she got to the bottom of the stairs, it was a belt. A very big belt. But Turps handled it brilliantly; he ran up to her and gave her a cuddle while we all tried to get our act together.

There was another time when a very large woman grabbed my hand as she ran past me – because I was positioned in the audience itself – and she’s pulled me out of my seat and taken me with her as she barreled down towards the stage. Now this lady must have been 15 or 16 stone (210 lb – 224 lb, 95 kg – 101 kg). And she’s reached the stage (Did you ever go to the wrestling at Festival Hall? Anyway…) She’s reached the stage, and tripped over, taking me with her; I fell as well.

Thank God she broke my fall.

SH: Oh! There was a bit of ‘cushioning’ there?

JD: A lot of cushioning. So it was an interesting time.

SH: Was she okay? Did she carry on and go on the show?

JD: Yeah, yeah I was okay – thanks for asking.

LAUGHTER

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And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next time, Deeksie reflects on Family Feud, and Wheel of Fortune, and discusses what separated the successful contestants from the unsuccessful ones. Until next Tuesday, then.

The Game Show Humane Society would like to advise that no 15 or 16 stone Price Is Right contestants were harmed in the making of this blog post.

* Looks like Deeksie might have been throwing in a trick question here; it seems Prussia only ever had two Kings Of it: King Frederick I (1701 – 1713) and King Wilhelm II (1888 -1918). There were many Kings In Prussia, though.

Controversial.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! The fun and the laughter, it’s okay, you can remember your cares again now.”

Hello and welcome to this, the final chapter of my three-part series on the 1999 Australian game show All Star Squares, on which I was employed as a question and gag writer.

You can find the two previous instalments here and here.

And what better way to kick off this week’s final instalment, than with a reminder of the show’s theme song, and one of the alternative versions that Adam Richard and I came up with?

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Beneath a Scotsman’s kilt there’s NO UNDERWEAR!”

Fact. 

Anyhoo, here’s the conclusion to the three-part All Star Squares adventure. Enjoy! If you can…..

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I have very fond memories of all the production staff, many of whom I’ve worked with on subsequent gigs over the years, the cheerful, gracious and charming host Ian Rogerson who was a pleasure to get to know, and the legendary voice-over man Gavin Wood. Gavin was a huge part of the soundtrack to my adolescence. In fact, he was a huge part of the soundtrack to all of Australia’s adolescence, as he was the voice of the legendary pop weekly pop music show Countdown. Countdown, hosted by Ian “Molly” Meldrum was required viewing for every Australian teenager from 1974 until the late 80s, and it is not to be confused with the rather sedate English game show of the same name.

In fact, years later, I auditioned to play Gavin in the telemovie of Molly’s life. But that’s another long story. Actually, no it’s not; it’s a short one. I didn’t get the part. Ed Kavalee did.

Anyhoo… All-Star Squares was recorded, as most game shows are, in five-episode blocks, with a week’s worth of episodes being shot in one recording session.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! I always get my steak cooked medium rare!”

And it’s just as well it was pre-recorded, because there were quite a few bloopers, particularly with some of the greener celebrities mentioned earlier. Bloopers were also  sometimes due to the fact that in the show’s Green Room… alcohol was provided. So by the time it came to record Friday’s show, some of the All-Stars were a little less sober than they might have been at the start of Monday’s show. I remember one instance in particular, where a certain celebrity who I’m reluctant to name here (although his actual name is Michael Caton) was asked a question which he’d decided to use his joke answer on. The exchange was meant to go like this;

HOST IAN ROGERSON: What is a “tittle”*?

MICHAEL: Easy there Ian, this is a family show!

And much laughter all around. Yeah, alright, alright – I never said any of it was comedy gold.

BUT, on the day, Ian mis-read the question and Michael didn’t listen, steaming ahead with his “joke” answer anyway, so that what we got was;

HOST IAN ROGERSON: What is a title?

MICHAEL: Easy there Ian, this is a family show!

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………..

What a totally mystifying moment. W.T., as the kids say, F?

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Did your Mum not tell you? It’s Not Nice To Stare!”

In the end, the show did not rate well for the network. The celebrities were paid many, many, many times what we were, and it was an expensive show for the network to make, for the 5:30 time slot, as a lead-in to the news. It didn’t pay its way, and so about six months into the run, the axing of the show was announced. I was sad, but had other work to go to… I was worried how Kim would take the news, but she was remarkably philosophical about it. I do remember, though, at the time we both said we’d miss the “delightful Duc d’O chocolates” that we received every week. Duc d’O had a sponsorship deal with the show, and each week, each celebrity got to take home an enormous box of Duc d’O chocolate truffles.

And yes, they truly were delightful.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! I feel like distracting you – LOOK OVER THERE!”

Looking back now, All-Star Squares remains a real curiosity of the late 90s Australian game show landscape. It was a lighthearted, general public game show, easy to play along with at home, with many different types of humour – not to mention many different types of human – all crammed into that enormous 3 x 3 celebrity grid, working their bums off to convince us they were having The Best Time Ever.

It was a fun show, and its heart was in the right place. With a bit more money, and a less brutally unforgiving time-slot, it may have had a better chance to stick around, and pursue its noble goal….

to boldly make us Forget All Our Cares.

As the theme song says (right at the end, just as it’s fading out)….

Ooooh, I love my All-Star Squares….

 

* For those playing along at home, a “tittle” is actually the technical term for the dot on top of a lower case “i” or a “j”.

So now you know that.

A Public Service Announcement. Sort Of.

Hello! Just a very quick, non-Tuesday extra-curricular post today, to let you know about something I’m doing this month.

I’m taking part in FebFast – swearing off alcohol for the month of February, for a very good cause.

FebFast helps raise funds for disadvantaged young people in Australia. From overcoming mental health issues and the impact of abuse and neglect, to finding safe housing and tackling drug and alcohol problems, FebFast funds youth workers who connect with young people experiencing disadvantage and ultimately help them stand on their own two feet.

I’ve pledged to be alcohol-free for the month of February, and if there’s a chance you’d be able to sponsor me in this endeavour – for any amount – it’d really help to make a difference.

For all the details, simply click on this deliberately ironically chosen picture of the floating head of Isaac, The Love Boat’s bartender.

Thank you for reading this far, and I’ll be back on Tuesday, with the conclusion to my piece on All Star Squares (TheFunAndTheLaughterForgetAllYourCares).

Until then…

Cheers,

Slainte,

Salut,

 

Erm…

Thanks,

Stephen.

 

“Aaaall… All Star Squares! The fun and laughter, keep forgetting all your cares!”

Hello, and welcome to Part Two of my three-part trip down Memory Lane to 1999, and my time working on the 5:30 weekday game show All Star Squares.

Last week, I introduced the show, and the fact that one of the other question / gag writers Adam Richard and I used to come up with alternatives to the opening line of the show’s theme song:

 “Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Examples of furniture? Tables and chairs!”

Anyway, today I move on the production process, and the part that we writers were required to play, after submitting our questions….

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After the questions were all compiled, the writers would each be assigned a celebrity or two for that week’s record. We’d then meet with the celebrities in the Green Room before the show, and go through all the questions they could potentially be asked in the upcoming shows, along with their correct answers, their incorrect answers and their joke answers. This part of the process was quite consultative; the celebrities could choose whether they wanted to answer correctly or incorrectly in the show, and whether they wanted to do the joke we’d provided for them, or – in consultation with us – to come up with an alternative joke to do, once they were on set.

One of my favourite celebrities to do this with was Tim Smith. Tim was a comedian and comedy writer himself, so he was really appreciative of our efforts, and working with him and writing with him was a sheer joy. He was such a lovely, generous collaborator and we always came up with joke answers for him that were way better than the originals. We also laughed a hell of a lot during the process. Working with Tim this way was extra special for me, as he was a mentor for me when I started doing stand-up comedy back in 1987, at the age of 17. He took me under his wing and welcomed me to a few stand up venues around Melbourne, and I will always be in his debt for that. Such a funny, fun, warm generous man.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! My favourite depilatory lotion is Nair (TM) !”

By contrast, some of the greener celebrities, or celebrities who were not performers, were absolutely terrified before the show. Often they were athletes, or people who were not accustomed to telling jokes or speaking in public for a living. On these occasions, I would try to be as empathetic, gentle and reassuring with them as possible in the Green Room; we never insisted that they do the jokes answers, because jokes were clearly so far out of their comfort zones.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Most Bond villains live in an underground lair!”

Appearing on All Star Squares was not necessarily an easy gig for a celebrity. There was pressure to keep the wacky, zany energy up, there was the potential to look a bit silly by either not knowing the answers, or delivering the jokes badly, or just generally appearing self-conscious. And it could be argued that it would be hard not to appear self-conscious, sitting behind a desk, dancing around as best you can, while being surrounded by a giant spice rack, populated with eight other celebrities.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! In Poker, a Straight Flush always beats Two Pair!”

Nor was this an easy gig for the producers. In a country as small as Australia, with an entertainment industry as small as ours, it was a challenge for them, week in, week out, to find nine celebrities for the show who’d be willing to do it, and do it well. In fact I remember the great comedian Tony Martin doing a bit of stand up about this, wondering out loud… what happens on those quiet weeks when the producers can’t rustle up nine celebrities? Do they just cover the top three squares with tarpaulins and soldier on?

The show did have its regulars, though; Tottie Goldsmith, the aforementioned Tim Smith and Melbourne based comedian Kim Hope. I had known Kim for a number of years through Melbourne comedy circles, and it was around this time that we started going out together. This added an extra layer of frisson, excitement and romance to that initial (and as it turned out only) season of All Star Squares.

The fun and the laughter, indeed…

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Sorry to get all personal and sentimental at the end there, but hey – this is my blog, and they’re my memories, so there.

Next week, as this How To Win Game Shows Behind-The-Scenes Reminiscence – or HTWGSBTSR (TM) – concludes, I look at a couple of memorable bloopers that (thankfully) never made it to air, as we wrap the whole thing up. 

Until next Tuesday! 

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Stockbrokers advise you to buy Blue Chip Shares!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game shows: The Cutting Edge

A photo of the primordial soup, snapped billions and billions of years ago.

The Game Show has been a highly adaptable form of entertainment, since The Very Dawn of Time. 

Well, maybe not the very dawn of time… I mean, the earliest unicellular lifeforms drifting about in the primordial soup probably weren’t all that great at pop culture, geography, or sports trivia. Word puzzles? They’d have been useless. Guessing which briefcase contained the big money? Not a chance in hell. And of course they didn’t stand a chance when the subject was history.

Because there hadn’t been any yet.

No, come to think of it, game shows have not been adaptable since The Very Dawn of Time, and I’m now sorry I wrote that. But game shows are adaptable these days. And that, I think, is the point of this week’s guest post from Mr Ryan Vickers. Now read on… 

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My Life in Game Shows

Episode 14: Game show as technology – ‘Complete the List’, 2017

With the advent of so many different platforms such as Netflix filling in for what used to have been our television watching, something else great has come down the chute – podcasting and apps. And with podcasting and apps has come internet game shows. Played mostly for pride and not for prizes, this allows anyone with an internet connection to play from the comfort of their home. The hottest thing going right now is HQ Trivia, an app whereby hundreds of thousands of players try to get twelve questions in a row right for a split of the game’s cash prize. In fact, for three seasons Let’s Ask America ran in US television syndication and while the host was in the studio contestants were on Skype at home.

In the traditional game show vein, Complete the List is a podcast game show run by Canada’s Andy Saunders (disclaimer: I have known Andy for years, and he is the tournament director at Reach for the Top, and he does a damn good job!). After hearing a few episodes, I knew I wanted to apply, and it was a simple as filling out a Google Form.

PRO TIP: Podcast game shows are always looking for players – why not have a try at Complete the List yourself?

Three players (and on occasion teams) are given a list of eight categories, in the vein of Pyramid, whereby you’ll have to decipher what they actually mean and that’s part of the fun. Players give answers in turn, in an attempt to score points. But in a neat twist, if you can’t think of another answer you can copy someone else’s – well, at least if you think it’s right! Other rounds include having to name a year a series of events happened as well as answering a question within a certain numerical range.

I first played on Episode 21, whereby to my surprise, I was against two other Canadians. It turns out Andy had prepared a slate of questions that were Canadian-themed. I then started to try and figure out what the categories might mean.

PRO TIP: On a show like this, pen and paper are not only allowed, but you need to use them. When a category came up, I started to scribble down possible answers. When it came to the “name the year”, I divided everything up by decade. Also make sure to take time to write down what other contestants had said so I wouldn’t repeat answers where I didn’t want to.

One of the great things about this podcast is the variety of questions – I’ve had to name countries who produced a Tour de France winner, Canadian Prime Ministers, currently running soap operas, characters from The Hunger Games and so many more things. As well the calibre of contestants has been quite high – the second of two episodes I played against two recent Jeopardy! contestants – one of who made it to the semi-finals of the recently finished Tournament of Champions.

And while this show only plays for pride, there is tons of it at stake. You can hear me play on episodes #21 and #25 wherever you find your podcasts – just search for Complete the List!

Next time, my life in game shows comes to a conclusion – well… for now…

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Well, the game show as a podcast – who would have thought? I’d like to thank Ryan for once again opening my eyes to a new corner of the game show universe that I was completely unaware of, before he came along. That was, as he mentioned, the penultimate instalment of his Life In Game Shows guest post odyssey…. but before he returns for one last round, perhaps you’d like to follow him on Twitter, at @RealCanadaMan.

And just a reminder that you can follow me too, at @How2WinGameShow.

Until next time!

The Trivia Championships of North America!

Hello! Guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back again this week to take us through a trivia-related phenomenon that I had never even heard of – shame on me! Now read on…

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My Life in Game Shows

Episode 13 – Meeting with like-minded folks – TCONA / ‘Game Show Throwdown’, 2017

In the world of fan conventions – because geek is now chic – Comic Con is come-one-come-all for everything pop culture in San Diego, California. Musical Theatre fans have Broadway Con in New York City.

But what does that leave for us game show (and trivia) aficionados? The Trivia Championships of North America (TCONA)! Held in Vegas every year, this has some loose connections to the previous “Game Show Congress” which occurred during the 2000s but truly today TCONA stands on its own. Trivia players from all around the world (including game show writers, contestants and talent) attend and play in events such as LearnedLeague Live, Last Quizzer Standing, and Total Recall about Strange Happenings (TRASH). There’s something for everyone.

It also means there is a boatload of game show contestants there.

PRO TIP: If you ever find yourself at an event whereby there are this many game show contestants, make sure to ask them about their experiences! And furthermore, ask them what they did to get on that show that you want to get on!

I’m not joking about the alumni – far from it. My quiz bowl team included two people that had reached the $500,000 level on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and a Lingo champ, for example. I ran into alumni of shows like Win Ben Stein’s Money, The $100,000 Pyramid, Whammy!, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Weakest Link, $ale of the Century… and the list goes on and on and on…

On a personal level, I had a blast. It was not only great getting to meet all of these wonderful game show people, but it was also the activities as well. I went with a friend to see a taping of Millionaire and got to stand on the set where the host stands and actually “host” a question. I spent time playing Jeopardy! with actual Jeopardy! alumni in someone’s hotel room. I played trivia titans in a 15-player head-to-head game of Last Quizzer Standing (similar to Britain’s Fifteen-To-One) where I came in fifth place.

PRO TIP: Don’t play your cards early if you don’t need to. In this fifteen-player quiz battle, I might not have been the strongest but gave confident answers and then did not make eye contact during the second round (where players nominated other players to answer) which helped me make it as far as I did. Know the rules of the game and figure out how they can work to your advantage!

I also had one of the best nights of my life with approximately twenty other Wheel of Fortune alumni with dinner at a restaurant (where someone did the math and there was over $300,000 in winnings at that table alone!) and then a nightcap singing karaoke with those fine people. Don’t get me wrong – I had a great time but I’m not posting the footage!

The highlight of the weekend for me was raising money for childrens’ hospitals across North America. As part of a group that put on the “2017 Game Show Throwdown” we raised over $7,000 by playing different game shows for 24 hours with contestants from the TCONA audience. You’d be surprised, but I got to host a cult-Canadian game show at 4 am and it was a blast. We live streamed on the internet so everyone could watch as well!

PRO TIP: If an opportunity comes where you can use your game show skills to give back, please try and do it! I have helped out with events at various locations and trust me, it will warm your heart. Not to mention you’ll have funny anecdotes to tell for years to come based on the answers that players give!

I can’t wait to go back!

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Thanks for the heads-up, Ryan; I was completely unaware of the existence of this event. It sounds like a lot of fun! Hopefully I’ll manage to get there one day. 

One day….