This week, Deeksie’s back for the penultimate chunk of our chat about his career and game shows in general.
And there’s one oft-forgotten game show in Australian television history, that I used to watch and enjoy more for its goofy camp value than anything else….
SH: One game show of the many you’ve been involved with, which only ran for a year here, was Press Your Luck. I remember watching Press Your Luck…
JD: Ah, the Whammy!
SH: That’s right! “No whammies! No whammies!” It ran from 1987-1988, and it was hosted by your old pal from The Price Is Right, Ian Turpie.
JD: Yes, I used to have to go down Clarendon Street to put all his bets on for him, at the TAB.
SH: Oh, did you? Okay, alright.
JD: Yes, that was part of my role.
JD: Essential. Anyway, so back to me… (laughter)
SH: Yeah that’s right! That’s why we are here. So… Press Your Luck.
JD: Press Your Luck was a technically challenging show because, a bit like The Price Is Right, there were a lot of technical mechanics in it; things moved, things happened in it, there were screens, there were split-second buzzers, there were animations being played over the top of live vision… I didn’t think it was as good (as Price). So Press Your Luck wasn’t really a stayer. I mean, I’ve done so many pilots over the years….
SH: Oh yeah?
JD: … And most of them are still friends. Boom-tish, thank you very much. But no, I have done a lot of pilots and thinking about the amount of shows that have come and gone, there have only been, Stephen, about 5 great game show formats in the world. I can list them. There’s Wheel, there’s Feud, there’s Jeopardy!, which never worked in Australia.
SH: Yeah – Jeopardy is a bit more like $ale of the Century, isn’t it?
JD: Yeah. But look, if we were in the states, all the shows that I’ve been working on would still be running, probably, in syndication.
SH: Yes of course. And there’s the Game Show Network, and America’s population is 20 times ours, and so on.
JD: Yes. But the common thread with all the contestants… what I tell them all is the word “Natural”. Be yourself, don’t try and put on another personality, don’t try to beat the host at their own game because the one thing people hate – whether it’s producers or people at home – is a smartarse. And occasionally we’ll find someone who we think is a bit ‘left-of-field’, and we’ll put that person in the mix, to make things interesting. Because when you’re at home, watching these shows, you sit there and you judge, judge, judge, judge.
SH: “I like her”, “I don’t like him…”
JD: And that’s why Eddie talks to the contestants on Millionaire Hot Seat, and you find out about them all. “Oh, you’ve just build a mud brick house, have you?” All that kind of stuff. So it’s empathetic, it’s the character of the person, it’s the attachment that you have to get with them.
Next week, as my chat with Deeksie concludes, we hear about his Favourite Game Show Host of All Time, and his thoughts on the future of game shows.
Until then, take care, and remember that impassioned plea, that heartfelt entreaty, that emotion-charged call of all those valiant Press Your Luck contestants who went before us; those words which will forever echo through The Corridors of History…
“No Whammies! No Whammies! No Whammies!”