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?

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

Book review – ‘How To Win TV Quiz Shows’ by CJ de Mooi

cj-de-mooi-book-cover

‘How To Win TV Quiz Shows’ by CJ De Mooi

Hello, and Happy New Year, to one and all ! Here’s hoping that 2017 is happy, healthy and fun for you… and that this is the year that all your game show dreams come true.

My first post for this year is another one of my occasional game show related book reviews. Today I’m looking at the first book by former quiz show champion, and Eggheads star CJ De Mooi. It’s called How To Win TV Quiz Shows and I picked it up as an eBook a while ago from Amazon.

It’s a quick read – just 152 pages – and although it does contain some good information, I wouldn’t say it’s an essential text book on the subject. But if you’re a fan of CJ’s slightly snarky, bitchy onscreen persona, then you’ll probably quite enjoy the ride. He writes in a breezy, chatty style, throwing in plenty of his trademark sarcastic barbs along the way.

The book begins with a potted history of CJ’s personal journey – from being quiz show contestant, to being a quiz show winner, to being a quiz show regular cast member. I must confess, I found his personality a bit hard to take during the relating of his life story. A pattern seemed to emerge in this part of the book; he’d repeatedly big-note his wins, then describe his losses as ‘injustices’, while assuring the reader that he’s over them now anyway.

An example of this comes when he relates how on one game show, he was only one second away from answering the final question in a 60 second round, when the timer went off. He complains that contestants not being able to see the clock is a major game flaw, and that this is unfair. To be fair, that’s how it’s usually done, CJ.

This very personal chapter concludes with him telling us that he’s now quit Eggheads, in order to pursue his dream of acting. And he’s happy; he goes to the gym every day, moisturises, and doesn’t care in the slightest what anyone thinks of him.

Hmm….

I can’t help thinking that if he’s telling us that he goes to the gym and moisturises every day, then he cares very much what everyone thinks of him.

Chapter 2 goes through the processes of getting on to quiz shows. This is a UK-centric book, and so the practical tips are all UK-based. He breaks down the reasons that people might have for applying for game shows and goes through them in more detail one by one. There are some useful tips here, such as the middle-aged white man (a demographic that’s generally over-represented on quiz shows) being selected time and time again due to drawing a little rainbow flag on the top of his application forms. Sometimes, positive discrimination works!

This is followed by a very comprehensive account of what you can expect on a studio record day.

Later chapters see CJ interviewing some other quiz show winners; Pat Casey (winner on The Chase and Tipping Point), serial WWTBAM contestant Paddy Spooner and British and European championship quizzer Gareth Kingston. But I’m not sure if I liked the way that he did this; rather than laying things out in a question and answer format, he’s reworked the content of the interviews into a prose, indirect speech format. Along the lines of “Paddy has an illuminating point”… “Paddy mentions his six year old daughter”, “Gareth advised always going in with a game plan”, and so on. This left me wondering exactly what CJ’s interview subjects did say to him in answer to his questions, and exactly how much has CJ paraphrased their responses.

As the book comes towards a conclusion, there’s a chapter titled ‘The Future’, which contains more practical tips about the why and how of getting on game shows – how you apply, etc., etc. It’s all sound advice, but not exactly inside knowledge. He’s a great advocate of joining an organised quizzing league (such as the ones that can be found here), which I think is certainly a good way of brushing up your knowledge, and exercising those question-answering muscles. He also recommends writing quiz questions, in order to get into the mindset of a quiz question writer. I’ve always thought that this is a great tip, and we’ve mentioned it many times here on the blog over the years.

The final chapter goes into more detail about how to write questions, and contains one list that I found interesting. It’s CJ’s Top Ten Topics that you should be well-versed in, if you’re looking for quizzing success. (I think the first one may be a bit anglo-centric, but here they are:)

Continue reading

A radio interview!

Hello! Something a little bit different this week. A few weeks ago, I received a call from a radio producer in Sydney asking if I’d be interested in being interviewed by Bec De Unamuno for an ABC radio segment on game shows.

Bec De Unamuno

Bec De Unamuno

Now, I’ve known Bec for years and so was extremely happy to have a chat about this subject close to my (and, I’m guessing, your) heart. In the interview, Bec also spoke to Andrew O’Keefe, another old pal who currently hosts The Chase Australia, and hosted the Australian version of Deal Or No Deal for a number of years.

Former host of 'Deal Or No Deal' and current host of 'The Chase Australia'... Andrew O'Keefe!

Former host of ‘Deal Or No Deal’ and current host of ‘The Chase Australia’… Andrew O’Keefe!

So, if you’re interested in hearing what a game show host and a game show winner / blogger have to say, then this 18 minutes and 25 seconds of audio may be of interest to you….

The original link to the interview is over on the ABC Radio website, but if you’d prefer to play it now (or right-click and “Save As…” so you can listen to it later), then here it is below!

Enjoy!

 

 

EXCLUSIVE interview with behind-the-scenes game show legend Michael Whyte – Part X: The Conclusion.

Game show legend Mr Michael Whyte!

Game show legend Mr Michael Whyte!

This week, as my epic interview with game show producing Living Legend Michael Whyte comes to a conclusion, we discuss the future of game shows…

and Prize Money! And what the winners can – and/or should – do with it…

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MW: We had a young guy earlier on, (on Sale of The Century) he was a student and he won. I said “what are you going to do?” He said “I am doing my thesis on Bowerbirds and I am now going to spend the rest of my life doing that, because that’s what I want to do. Now I’ve got the money I can do it.” It allowed him to do exactly whatever he wanted. That was what he wanted to do.

SH: It’s always interesting to hear winners who want to use the money to follow a specific dream, rather than “Oh, I’ll just put it on the mortgage”… and they don’t get much more specific than that!

MW: Well on Millionaire Hot Seat, on the bottom of the card that we end up giving to (host) Eddie (McGuire), which says “What would you do if you won lots of money?”… I always say to them “by the end of today we’re making 6 episodes. Some of you are going to win substantial money. It will happen, and it does”. I say “What you’ve got to make sure is that you do the things you said you were going to do. And not hand money out to your friends and all of a sudden start giving to charity and doing all those sorts of things. If you wanted to go to Antarctica, if you wanted to buy that Mustang, this is what you have to do. You have to do that. Because you’ll find if you don’t, it’ll just disappear. If you do all those things, it’ll make you so much happier. It really will. 

SH: Don’t be practical about it. Follow the dream. If you have the chance to follow the dream, follow the dream!

MW: Surely, take some off the mortgage, why not? But at the same time, if you wanted to buy that thing that you always thought “I could never get that” and now you can… then go and get it! Go tomorrow, and get it. Simple as that. 

SH: What do you predict will be the next big trend in game shows? 

MW: I think the ‘question-and-answer’ will still be the same but I think it might get to a very specific situation, almost like a Mastermind situation, where there will be “your subject is this”. And the people sitting there at home are going “how the hell do those people know about this particular thing?” That was the strength of Mastermind and then that diminished because people went “Oh no, I can’t answer that, so I’m not interested”. But it is a bit more reality than it is quiz show. It may be that, who knows? Hopefully they don’t dumb them down. 

SH: But for the time being you’re on Millionaire Hot Seat which has been going on for a number of years now and going very well. How long has Hot Seat been going? 

MW: Well, the traditional format was an evening format, and they wanted a half- hour version to go on at 5:30 in particular. We had done, over the years, a couple of half-hour versions of the old show but it really didn’t work as well. This format was actually done in Denmark. I think they would have the live traditional Millionaire then go to the News and then come back and do this Hot Seat format, because they needed another show. And the set and everything was already there. They did that really as a bit of a filler. Then we saw that and thought “if that’s what you want at 5:30, this is the way to go with it”. We tried out a couple of versions of it and ended up with this, and it’s working really well. 

SH: And long may it continue to do so. I think on that note, we might wrap it up. Michael thank you so much for being so generous with your time and speaking with me today. I really appreciate it – and what a long and varied career in every aspect of game shows and light entertainment and drama! Like you say, you don’t get that today. It’s been really great to talk to you.  

MW: Thanks, Stephen.

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Again, I’d like to thank Michael for being so generous with his time and for sharing so many thoughts and experiences from his epic career. I really enjoyed learning all about the various shows he’s worked on, and all the behind-the-scenes anecdotes, tips and hints… and I hope you did too. 

Next week, something a bit different… some audio content! A little while ago, I was invited onto ABC Radio to talk game shows, along with the host of The Chase: Australia, Andrew O’Keefe. And that interview will be available, in full – as a clickable link, and a downloadable mp3 – right here, next Tuesday!

EXCLUSIVE interview with behind-the-scenes game show legend Michael Whyte – Part IX

Michael Whyte (right) with host Eddie McGuire on the set of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?'

Michael Whyte (right) with host Eddie McGuire on the set of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’

When we left our conversation last week, Michael was giving that all-important, incendiary advice that begins every game show contestant’s journey; Don’t just sit there watching, saying “I’d be good on that show”… Get up off the couch and apply! We then discussed his role in the production, and he mentioned that when he talks to group of contestants who have got through the selection process….

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MW: I say “Hands up who has going on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire as something on their bucket list?” and up go hands… “I always wanted to do it, I am going to have a go at it”. It’s the show where if you know all the answers you can win lots of money. It is also the show where if you guess correctly – pure luck – you can also win a lot of money… and that happens too! That’s not the same on Sale.

SH: No, there are no prizes for guessing there.

MW: No, you have to know the answer. And again, people don’t understand it till they’ve done it, but there’s a lot that goes into it. As I said; hear the question, push the buzzer, get it out of your mouth in a time limit, over and over again. Then add the pressure. Let’s say you did 5 episodes in a day and you came back the next week to do the final 3. Or maybe you started on the Friday episode in the first week so did 1, then you did 5 in the second week’s worth of records – that’s 6 – and then you had to come back another week to do 2 more. That’s 3 weeks it took you to do the whole thing.

SH: That stamina thing is a real issue, and you really have to manage your own doubt and your own energy levels.

MW: Absolutely. Those that win – especially Sale – are the ones that go “I want to win the show. Now, if I win any money, great – but I want to win the show to prove that I can do it, because I think I can do it”. That’s what happened to you. And pretty much that’s what happened to all those people that win that show.

SH: I remember during my run on Temptation – and I don’t know whether you remember this – I wanted to win the show so much that I hardly bought anything in the Gift Shop, and it made the producer a bit miffed. And that’s probably putting it mildly…

MW: Well, I was there during your run and that wasn’t the case. You might’ve had a producer on the floor; I was Executive Producing at that stage. They might have said “Oh, he doesn’t buy anything!” It doesn’t make any difference.

SH: Well, I get their point – in that they wanted closer games and all of that – and having been a producer myself a couple of times, of course you want to make good telly, and you want it to be close… but I wasn’t. And a couple of people had a quiet word saying “come on, buy stuff” and Ed (the host) was half-joking with me, “Come on, you’re so far ahead! Short arms, long pockets” and all of that. But I wasn’t doing anything that wasn’t in the rules, and I just wanted to win convincingly and safely.

MW: No, no, no – that’s fine. That’s not the attraction. I mean, the way the format is set up is simply that the Fame Game question, and the Gift Shops in particular, were designed to level the game out a bit. That’s why, when around came the Gift Shop, if it was a fridge, it was probably the best fridge you could buy. If it was a vacuum cleaner, it was the best you could buy. That’s the point and so if you thought “I need a vacuum cleaner, I will have it!” There’s other people that are going “I am not going to, because I am not going to risk it”.

We had a guy called David Bock. He won the show and he came back a couple of times to play a champion series or something.

SH: I remember Pam Barnes talking about David Bock.

MW: Tony Barber – probably the best quiz host we’ve ever seen – nicknamed him pretty soon; he called him David “spider-in-the-pocket” Bock, and he used it all the time, because David would never buy anything. And when he finally won, part of his prize was a BMW convertible. I said to him, “Have you always wanted a convertible?” And he said “Oh yes.” I said “Are you going to sell it?” He said, “Yes.” “Why are you going to sell it?” “Because my wife needs a…” What do you need? You don’t have any children, it’s just you and your wife. Why don’t you keep it?” And the bottle of champagne that we gave him on that night – you would have got one –

SH: Yes.

MW: – was the first champagne he’d ever tasted.

SH: Really?

MW: Because he always thought champagne was too expensive. I said “make sure you drink it”.

SH: For goodness’ sake, don’t sell it!

MW: He kept the BMW for about 2 months and he was guilt-ridden and he sold it.

SH: Right. That’s his particular personality I guess.

MW: That’s right. He didn’t do it for the money either. The money didn’t really change his life; it just meant that his bank balance was a lot better, and he just carried on with what he was doing.

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And I think there’s a lesson in there that bears repeating…. if you’re on a game show and you feel the producers would like you to adopt a type of game play that you’re not comfortable with… stick to your guns. 

In the lights and stress and atmosphere of being on the set, it’s easy for your decisions to be swayed. If you’ve developed an overall strategy (and it’s within the rules) stick to it. To thine own self be true. Making spur-of-the-moment gameplay decisions that you’re not comfortable with can cost you dearly. Not just in dollars and cents, but in something just as powerful, and far more haunting…

Regret.

And wondering “What Might Have Been….” 

 

EXCLUSIVE interview with behind-the-scenes game show legend Michael Whyte – Part IV

Game show legend Mr Michael Whyte!

Game show legend Mr Michael Whyte!

In last week’s instalment of my chat with game show doyen Michael Whyte, I asked him about some of the best contestants he’s seen in his long career. He provided some examples and a look at what they did right; information that’ll hopefully be helpful to you on your journey to game show success. Now read on, as I ask Michael about the very worst contestants he’s seen, in order to (hopefully) give you a chance to learn from their mistakes…

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SH: What traits did the worst contestants have?

MW: On quiz shows, probably thinking they knew more than they do. And just being a little bit cocky. I think they think they’re on television, therefore they have to act like ‘a quiz or game show contestant on television’, and that’s not necessarily the case. The Price is Right for example was what I termed “The Housewives’ Revenge”, because when you’ve got “how much is a lounge suite versus a fridge?”, the women, in those days in particular, were the ones who were buying everything and that includes the cars. They had a major input into what sort of cars we would get next, what sort of TV – and they were more aware of prices, and so when they came on, they didn’t seem to have that much trouble going “Well, it’s the lounge suite followed by the fridge followed by the trip to Hawaii”, that sort of thing. And were quite clear on all that, whereas if you put the husbands up, they’d go “I’ve got no idea! How much is a lounge suite? I dunno – I just want a red one.”

SH: Yes. “Not my area”. 

MW: So they did extremely well on that. So it’s ‘horses for courses’, really.

SH: Across all of the shows that you’ve been involved with, can you single out perhaps one game show or quiz show moment for you that was among the best from your perspective?

MW: Oh look, there have been a million of them. One in particular that I absolutely loved was when we had the first celebrity edition of Sale of the Century. The network was very strong on “we need to do one, we need to do one” and we resisted for so long, because we knew that once we started those they would continue to want them over and over again. 

SH: Why were you reluctant?

MW: First of all, you have to have celebrities of note, larger than C or D or B graders. Otherwise people won’t care. So we started with Gough Whitlam.

SH: Really?

MW: Yes! We got hold of Gough Whitlam through Harry M Miller and asked if Gough would be up for it. This was after he was Prime Minister. Harry came back and said “yes he is in, but he wants to bring a friend” and I said “who’s the friend?”. He said “David Lange”. I said “that’s fine!”

SH: Wow! And David Lange was the Prime Minister of New Zealand at the time?

MW: No, he had just finished. So on that night we had David Lange, Gough Whitlam and we put Don Chipp in the middle. 

SH: Wow, what a line up!

MW: We really just wanted to have the nameplate “GOUGH” and Gough sitting there pushing the buzzer, and Tony saying “Gough?” (LAUGHS). It went beautifully, but two interesting things; one was, we asked them all the question “who is the Speaker of the House?” And it wasn’t answered. They didn’t know it. None of them. 

SH:  They were out of the game. 

MW: We actually took that question out of the show, because we thought it was a little bit embarrassing. 

SH: It’s not a good look. 

MW: But in that celebrity series there were the likes of Andrew Denton, we had Jennifer Byrne and we had all these different people that were pretty high profile at the time. In the end I think it was David Lange, Jennifer Byrne and it might have been Richard Stubbs – or Andrew, I’m not sure – in the final. And Jennifer Byrne beat David Lange. Tony asked her the question “why are you so good at that?” She just said “I just like games! We always played games at home, we always watched the show. We love it! I don’t know why I know these things, but I just do.” It was “the game” that got her there. 

SH: Fantastic. 

MW: So that was a bit of a moment. 

SH: That’s a highlight, absolutely. This would have been early ’80s, I would guess?

MW: Yes. It was about ’84 or ’85 or something like that. 

SH: If that was a highlight, can you think of any lowlights? 

MW: We had on Millionaire – early on – we had a celebrity night and we had Richard Hatch who was the first winner of Survivor. 

SH: Yes I remember Richard Hatch.

MW: He came on the show, and he and his manager in particular were so full of themselves that we’d be getting all these demands; “Richard won’t rehearse”, “Richard won’t do this” or “won’t do that”. I said, “well this is the way it is. This is what we need from him, you can go and sit in the boardroom and I’ll go and look after Richard and off we go”. Anyway he came on and he was a pain in the arse. He got a question and it was something like “what is 7 X 8?”, and he couldn’t work it out. And that was then when there was no time limit! He sat there and he sat there and he couldn’t work it out. 

SH: This was on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? That must have been one of the first questions, surely. 

MW: Yes. A very simple question and he got it wrong.

SH: Ha!

MW: Eddie was just delighted. He said “Richard Hatch, you are the first one to win Survivor and win a million dollars, and you are the first one to go out on the first question in a celebrity episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Goodbye.” 

SH: (LAUGHING) Wow. Firsts everywhere.

MW: Wonderful!

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Which just goes to show… a little humility never goes astray. We’re all only one step away from coming undone. So if you do have success, be grateful for it and enjoy it!

It can sometimes be fleeting…

EXCLUSIVE interview with behind-the-scenes game show legend Michael Whyte – Part III

Game show legend Mr Michael Whyte!

Game show legend Mr Michael Whyte!

Hello again! As Part Three of the interview begins, I felt it would be very remiss of me not to ask Michael this one…

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SH: You would have seen, over the years, many big winners in quiz shows and game shows… did they have anything in common; was there something different in their approach or technique – or even their demeanour – that made them champions?

MW: I think that when you talk about Sale (of the Century), those that know the show and were there for a long time, they talk about Cary Young

SH: Yes I remember him. 

MW: What was it about Cary Young? Cary Young was the man that was totally focussed… because he came back a number of times; championships against different countries and different people and all that kind of stuff. He would literally train, because he was a boxer. So he would run, and a couple of months out, he would start his training and physically be alert and ready. 

SH: Was it just physical training or did he study specifically for the quiz??

MW: He totally studied. He could say to you, when a Fame Game question came up, it might be something like “I was born in 1965”… and he would buzz and he would spit out an answer, and I reckon about 75% of the time he was right! I was saying to him afterwards “why are you coming in so early?” And he would say “I know pretty much every  question that is being asked about someone who was born in 1965, so I can rule out the ones that have been asked already and I’ve got the small list left”. 

SH: From watching the show? He made notes on the show and previous versions and episodes of the show?

MW: Absolutely, every show. He watched every show.

SH: And made notes obviously. 

MW: Yes. The other one that used to do that was Molly Meldrum.

SH: Really? 

MW: Oh yeah. He used to watch it overnight. Vastly educated man in different ways and he knew so much. Ultimately we had him on Millionaire, and he won half a million dollars. 

SH: Yes, I remember that. And I’ve never seen anyone look more nervous in my life. He was very, very stressed indeed.

MW: It nearly killed him. And there was vodka and orange going to him on a regular basis…

SH: (LAUGHS) I didn’t know that. 

MW: He said “I can’t stand it!” And that was live! He literally nearly fell over. Then we had Red Symons, he was very cocky on a particular answer for half a million. And I can’t remember the question, but the answer was “an architect”, and his wife who was in the audience had studied architecture so she knew the answer. And he thought he did, and he went “of course that’s what it is – lock in (B)” and it wasn’t.

SH: Oh dear.

MW: And he was devastated, absolutely devastated. And I think from memory A Current Affair then did a story on him and said “okay, well here’s the Million Dollar question – see if you can answer it”… and he did. 

SH: Rub salt into the wound!

MW: Yes exactly! Those people who end up going all the way and winning shows like that. Just focus, just totally focus. They’re not so nervous about the television side of things anymore. It’s just focus and a bit of a calmness and it does help if they’re fit in mind and body then they can focus in on what they are doing at the time. And that means sometimes cracking jokes and another times not saying anything. I think the best example of that was really early on in the piece in Sale. I can’t remember his name, but he was a reverend, and he wore the dog collar, he was from Perth. And for a week, Sale‘s ratings were 52s! Now 52s were only beaten by I think the Lionel Rose / Alan Rudkin fight –

SH: Ok. 

MW: – And the Seekers concert, out at the Myer Music Bowl.

SH: Oh that was a massive hit.

MW: Yeah. But this was 52 every night. And that equated to something like 85% of the audience were watching it. And he said nothing, he just sat there and answered questions. 

SH: Then what was the draw card?

MW: He was just totally focused. No personality, but everyone looked at him and went “How amazing! Let’s just watch this guy do it.” 

SH: And he went all the way, I guess?

MW: Yeah, yeah, he did.  And was never really challenged. He then disappeared. 

SH: Right. Back to Perth. 

MW: That was it. 

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And I think there’s a lesson in that. If you do get called up as a quiz show contestant, don’t feel the need that you have to be funny or wacky or “entertaining”, if it doesn’t feel comfortable for you. You’re not there to crack jokes or sing and dance… you’re there to answer questions correctly. Don’t forget that, because that’s entertaining in and of itself – that’s why people watch these shows. In other words, be yourself – don’t try to be something you’re not. You’ve got enough to worry about up there, without putting yourself under that additional pressure! Next week, I ask Michael about some of the worst contestants he’s ever seen. Or in other words, what not to do when you’re a contestant on a game show… Until then, then! 

EXCLUSIVE interview with serial game show contestant Vicky Jacobs – Part I

How To Win Game Shows Vicky Jacobs

Vicky Jacobs

A brand new interview for you this week, with someone who’s “been there and done that” a number of times! Vicky Jacobs is a musician, musical director and vocal coach, but she’s also a serial game show contestant, having appeared as a contestant on at least five different game shows. In fact, it could even be said that game shows are in Vicky’s blood, being, as she is, the daughter of a genuine Sale of the Century champion. I was curious to ask Vicky about her diverse game show adventures, and whether she had any hard-won tips, drawn from her wide and varied experience.

And so I did. 

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SH: Vicky, welcome and thanks for chatting to me today for www.HowToWinGameShows.com

VJ: My pleasure!

SH: I’d like to start our chat today by hearing about your dad – you mentioned he was a Sale of The Century champion. When was that, and what did he win?

VJ: I think it was 1992. He’d won all the prizes except for the car and was playing for the car when he got beaten. It was the fifth episode they’d filmed that day and I think he was probably a bit tired and hungry by that stage. But we won heaps of cool stuff! It kept turning up at the house for months – all the game show classics: saucepans, luggage, ski gear, a home gym, a giant Garfield (still got it!) and we even got a family trip to Vanuatu… so not a bad couple of days work!

SH: How did your dad’s win change your family’s life?

VJ: I’m not sure I’d say it changed our lives significantly, but was definitely lots of fun while it was happening and a real talking point at school (I was in Year 8 at the time)!

SH: Was it your dad’s win that started your fascination with game shows? Or did you “catch the bug” later in life?

VJ: Funnily enough, Mum had actually done Sale of the Century first – she didn’t win her episode but did bring home some prizes so I think she probably gave the bug to all of us. Who doesn’t love free stuff?!  My whole family loves a game of Trivial Pursuit and are highly competitive, so it was kind of inevitable! 

SH: Which was your first game show appearance? Would that have been Greed, in 2001? How did you go during that appearance, and looking back now, was there anything you would have done differently?

VJ: I’ll start this story by pointing out that I was quite young and didn’t know much stuff in 2001. But essentially what happened was: I got a 50/50 question wrong which lost our team $100,000 and put us out of the competition. And that wasn’t the worst bit! The worst bit was being put in a room with them after I’d stuffed it up, while they filmed the rest of the episode. Small talk with strangers who hate your guts – not the funnest hour of my life! I’m not sure I would have done anything differently, as it was a luck-of-the-draw type situation: I simply didn’t know the answer. For anyone playing at home, the question was “Which of these is a currency: ‘punt’ or ‘kind’?”  I now know it’s ‘punt‘ !

SH: Then a few years later, you were a contestant on Temptation (the rebooted version of Sale of the Century). What advice and / or training did your dad give you, as you prepared to go on? After all, he’d been there and done that…

VJ: Dad told me to buy everything that was offered to me!  It was great advice for that particular competition. I was ahead for much of the game so I took everything that was offered. I got beaten in ‘Fast Money’, but when I did the maths afterwards, I still wouldn’t have won if I hadn’t bought, so it was excellent advice.

SH: And what did you end up winning on Temptation? Continue reading