My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 3 of 5

Hello!

Last week, Issa and I discussed his earlier game show appearances – on The Rich List, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Millionaire Hot Seat.

Now read on…

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SH: Apart from those TV appearances, you’ve also long been a fixture on the Australian Quizzing scene. In fact, you’re a six-time winner of the Australian Quizzing Championships (2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) and six-time Pairs Champion (2012-17). Can you tell me a bit about that area of your life? Just how all-consuming has it been?

IS: It is probably my favourite part of quizzing nowadays. I discovered Quizzing Australia (the organisation that runs these events) back in 2008, and I decided to fly myself to Sydney to compete. I came second that year but was instantly hooked. It really is “next level” quizzing. It is run concurrently with the World Quizzing Championships and consists of a whopping 240 questions over eight categories, done in two hours with a break in between. As the questions are the same worldwide, you get a massive range, and the difficulty is very high. Last year I was fortunate to win Aussie title No. 6 and reached 57th in the world – absolutely delighted. For the first time, I finished ahead of Anne (The Governess) and she wasn’t necessarily thrilled!

SH: Do you still have time to compete in this arena, now that you’re working on The Chase Australia? If so, has becoming a Chaser helped your game there?

IS: Oh, absolutely. If anything, I am probably guilty of studying for international competitions more than The Chase. There is a little bit of a crossover, but naturally many questions in a world championship aren’t going to be suitable for a televised Australian quiz show – too obscure and many are too long, for example. But doing The Chase has definitely helped my general knowledge across the board. I remember one year at the World Quizzing Championships, Brydon and I had a little chuckle because a question asked had just come up at a recording the week before. Every month, there are two international quizzes of 100 questions each called ‘Hot 100’ and ‘Squizzed’, both of which are excellent and I always put time aside to compete in both. We have groups meet up twice a month to do these in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. It’s great just to socialise and be guaranteed a decent, interesting quiz.

SH: Issa, your general knowledge is obviously very vast and wide-ranging… I wanted to get your thoughts on a theory of mine; that we are currently witnessing The Death of General Knowledge. Here’s what I mean; 100 years ago, American captain of industry Henry Ford was not a highly educated man, and he credited much of his success to The
Mastermind Principle. This can be summed up by the notion “Well, I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know someone who does”. Ford surrounded himself with knowledgeable people – an ‘external brain’, if you like – and would consult with them, and reap the benefits of their collective wisdom in his decision-making. This was seen as radical back then – successful businessmen were expected to be educated,
knowledgeable, intelligent, and have vast amounts of information in their memories that they could draw on; they were expected to have all the answers. Ford was the exception to the rule. Fast forward 100 years… and now, all of us have access to the entire world’s collective wisdom in our pockets (on our phones) 24 hours a day. The Mastermind Principle has now become the rule, rather than the exception. Arguably, none of us need General Knowledge anymore, since “Google knows the answer to that!”

Personally, I think this is sad, and I’m trying to teach my daughter to value and cultivate and exercise her general knowledge. It’s part of being a well-rounded, interesting human being, after all. What are your thoughts on this?

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 2 of 5

Hello and welcome back to my exclusive interview with ‘The Supernerd’ himself, Issa Schultz.

By the time Issa was cast on The Chase Australia in 2015, he had already notched up a long and successful quiz show career, despite his relative youth…

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SH: When you were 25, you were a contestant on The Rich List
(which was hosted by Andrew O’Keefe, who you now work with on The
Chase Australia), where you won $200,000! Do you remember the list that scored
you the win?

IS: Oh absolutely Stephen, it’s one of those things you never forget! There were actually two lists, the first one netted $250,000, and the second one added $150,000. On The Rich List you competed in pairs, so the prize money was split at the end, hence $400,000 between two. The first list was ‘Letters of the Greek Alphabet’. We had great momentum going into that round, and just before shooting AOK said “I reckon you guys will carve this up”, followed by “there are 24 answers on this list”. And right then and there, I just had that feeling – I just knew it was going to be Greek letters. And when AOK began slowly “Letters…” the endorphins went crazy because I knew we were about to win $250,000.

The second list was ‘Ranks in the Royal Australian Navy’, which was jolly handy as my father was in the merchant navy, and it was a list I had looked at once before. The ranks get a bit messy near the bottom so we weren’t game to go all the way, but certainly very happy to bank another $150,000.

SH: What did you do with the prize money?

IS: Amazingly, for a then-25 year old, I held onto it! I used existing savings to take a couple of holidays, and also took my father over to the UK in 2009 so he could walk my sister down the aisle for her wedding. Eventually in 2017, I put it towards an apartment in the Brisbane CBD.

SH: Apart from the obvious ($$$!)… how was that experience different from the Einstein Factor experience, and what did it teach you about being a quiz show contestant?

IS: It was MUCH more tense. I remember hardly sleeping the night before (and after), because it really felt like a “do or die” moment. Sorry to be so dramatic! I just felt this show could change my life – after all it is probably the last “big money” show we’ve had for a while outside Millionaire. On The Einstein Factor, everyone was so relaxed, including the contestants – it was a fun day out. On The Rich List, everyone seemed on edge, especially other contestants. We were mostly kept separate, but a couple of times I crossed paths with teams that I was told I would not be facing, and they were very quiet. It felt more akin to a dentist’s waiting room than a TV studio.

SH: You’ve also been on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – how did you fare there, and do you have any tips for aspiring contestants for that show?

IS: Cheekily, I was on it twice! Back in 2002 with the old (better) format, and again in 2009 for Millionaire Hot Seat. I’ve always been fond of Millionaire, but I was never able to deliver on the day. In 2002, I bombed out going for the safe level of $32,000, and in 2009, I only answered two or three questions before missing a pop culture question (that my mother – in the audience – knew!) Success on Hot Seat relies on a lot of luck;  the seat placement for starters is decided by producers. For future contestants, I would use all the time available on the clock and try and eliminate some options. When I was on Hot Seat, you actually saw a numerical clock counting down, instead of the graphic you see on TV, so it’s easy to see how much time you have left. Even though he’ll continue to deny it, Eddie’s body language/choice of words can be a MASSIVE clue. If you’re hovering over a correct answer, he’ll lock it in quite swiftly, whereas if it is wrong he’ll ask if you’re sure/stall etc. I realised afterwards he was trying to get me to pass – so I wouldn’t get knocked out – but I was so frazzled I locked in my (wrong) answer anyway.

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Bad luck, Issa – you can’t win them all! That’s a FANTASTIC tip about (Millionaire Hot Seat host) Eddie McGuire, though. Any aspiring Hot Seat contestants here in Australia should most certainly take note!

See you next week, for Part Three!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 1 of 5

Hello!

This week, I’m absolutely DELIGHTED to bring you my latest exclusive interview with one of The Chasers, from the hit show The Chase Australia.

Following on from my previous interviews with ‘Goliath’ (AKA Matt Parkinson), and ‘Tiger Mum’ (AKA Cheryl Toh)… Today, I’m delighted be talking to another firm fan favourite… ‘The Supernerd’ (AKA Issa Schultz)! Issa was very generous with his time in this very wide ranging conversation, and I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.

So let’s get straight into it!

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SH: Issa, thanks very much for chatting to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com!

IS: An absolute pleasure Stephen, long-time fan! Delighted to have a chat.

SH: You grew up in England, moving to Australia in 1995 when you were 11 years old. Had you already been bitten by the quiz bug back in England? What quiz shows or game shows did you watch over there, as a child?

IS: Back in the UK, my father ran an establishment that I think he called “The Liberal Club” and he would host trivia nights every week. I would arrive at the club right near the end of these nights (after Cub Scouts!), and would occasionally overhear some of the questions – and it made me sit up and listen. I remember thinking “hey, I like this question / answer concept!” The big quiz shows of the day back then were Fifteen to One (hosted by the late great William G Stewart) and Mastermind (similarly the late great Magnus Magnusson).

SH: When and where did your interest in competitive quizzing begin?

IS: My family and I went to pub quizzes regularly up on the Sunshine Coast as I went through high school, but I think it got more serious once I moved to Brisbane in 2002, as I realised the pub quiz scene down here was more difficult and harder to win. I’d find myself buying quiz books and reading those instead of my uni books (!!). Likewise, back in high school I remember handing one or two assignments in late because I had chosen to go to a pub quiz the night before they were due!

SH: When you were 21 years old, you appeared on The Einstein Factor – I looked this up on imdb, and it appears your special subject was either ‘The Academy Awards’, ‘Australian Birds’, or ‘The Life and Times of Carl Lewis’… so, which one was it, and how did you do on the show?

IS: Aha, well researched sir! Yes that was back in 2005, and I had opted for Academy Awards. In hindsight my preparation was terrible, I think I had just looked at a couple of lists and some “weird Oscar factoids” and assumed/hoped that would do the trick. Back then of course, Wikipedia was very much in its infancy, so potential resources were all over the shop. I came second overall, the chap who did Australian Birds really knew his stuff. Funnily enough, the chap who came third in that episode I had previously met, on a recording of Millionaire. He said “Oh no, not you again!”.

SH: What did you learn from that experience?

IS: The wonderful thing about The Einstein Factor was that you were really playing for “the honour” rather than any cash prize. Sure I was disappointed, but equally as a struggling 21 year old it was so nice to have paid flights and accommodation at St Kilda. Little highlights like spotting Tim Ferguson (one of the show’s “Brains Trust”) afterwards in the local 7-11 stay in my mind. From a quizzing angle, I realised that going forward, I’d really need to do more preparation. That was my second TV quiz show and second loss at that stage. I also realised, watching it back, that I should jolly well get a decent haircut next time I’m on TV!

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And that’s where we leave it for this week. When our interview continues next week, Issa and I discuss his biggest quiz show win, how he spent the money, and he reveals his insider tips for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire….

 

And, for those playing along at home, the next time he went on TV he DID have a decent haircut.

 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Tiger Mum’, Cheryl Toh! Part 2 of 2

Hello! Last week saw the first part of my interview with the latest addition to The Chase Australia, Cheryl Toh, AKA The Tiger Mum. Last week we covered her background in quizzing, and the lead-up to this gig. Today we’ll focus on her new role, what her family thinks of it, and just how she keeps those mental muscles in shape for – 

Yes, alright – fair enough Cheryl.

I’ll get on with it.

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SH: What do your family think of the persona you’ve adopted for the show? How much of a Tiger Mum are you in real life?

CT: My family likes the nickname. It was either me or my father who first suggested it. Many women, especially in the Asian community, regard it as a compliment to be called a “tiger mum”. For me, I am having a bit of a laugh at myself. While tiger parents have many great qualities, it wouldn’t hurt them to have a bit of a laugh at themselves occasionally too, I reckon. My kids will have to answer your second question! My sister-in-law Yvonne leaves me in the dust though – she makes her son do 5 hours of homework every day.

SH: What sort of study or training do you do for the show each week?

CT: I read eclectically, go to a couple of pub quizzes, watch quiz shows and play on a few quiz apps. I have a very smart English friend in Harrogate (a surgeon) called Jon who sends me lots of challenges. He loves the British version of The Chase and hopes he can see one of my episodes someday. Sometimes I’ll trade questions that I think are challenging or interesting with my mates (including Issa) on email or WhatsApp. My good pal Alan talks a fair bit about sports, current affairs and movies and I pick up plenty of tidbits from him.

SH: And finally… (I understand entirely if you’d prefer not to answer this, but I feel I’d be neglecting my duty if I didn’t ask)… are there any tips you can share for any aspiring contestants wanting to go up against you on The Chase?

CT: Do your homework! That’s good general advice not just Tiger Mum advice. Like most things in life, you will do better on quiz shows if you have prepared yourself mentally. Watch lots of episodes of The Chase Australia, and read Stephen Hall’s marvellous book which covers many practical aspects of quiz shows. Going on a quiz show is not an experience that many people have, and reading this book gives you insights from people who have actually done it, and won! I do hope to meet many more contestants, as I’ve faced such lovely and interesting people so far. Andrew (O’Keefe) and the crew do an awesome job of making the day a fun and memorable experience for contestants. I think 99% of them go away having had an absolute blast, plus they get the chance to enjoy watching themselves on national TV later with family and friends. I certainly appreciate their courage, good humour and sportsmanship.

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I’d like to thank Cheryl for giving so generously of her time… and for her great tips, her very kind words, AND for plugging my book into the bargain. Completely unsolicited, I promise! Cheryl’s a very entertaining Chaser, and if you’re in Australia, you can catch her on The Chase Australia, 5 PM weekdays on the Seven Network… 

Which I most highly recommend you do.

See you next time!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Tiger Mum’, Cheryl Toh! Part 1 of 2

Hello, and welcome to my first EXCLUSIVE interview for 2019. Today, I’m really pleased to bring you my chat with the newest addition to the cast of The Chase Australia… Cheryl Toh, otherwise known as The Tiger Mum!

As you’ll see, I was aware of Cheryl’s presence in the quiz community, and so was really pleased to see her pop up as the newest Chaser in the Australian version of the hit quiz show. I’m very grateful to Cheryl for taking the time to chat with me… now let’s see what she had to say!

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SH: You have quite a background in trivia and quizzing – was it through Martin Flood that you and I met?

CT: I haven’t actually had the pleasure of meeting you in person, but yes, we first got in contact via Marty Flood. I was already a big fan of yours having watched you blitz it on Temptation. I also really enjoyed your work on The Hollowmen. You’re a VERY funny guy!

SH: Thank you, you’re very kind! Have you always been interested in trivia, and quizzing? Where did your interest come from?

CT: I started quizzing properly in my mid 20s. It came about by chance. I was living in Melbourne at the time and decided to go along to a Temptation audition, for some fun. To my surprise, I answered most of the test questions correctly and was contacted quite quickly to appear as a contestant. I was only on one episode but won over $8000 from a lucky Vault spin and some prizes from the Famous Faces board. The experience taught me to back myself on answers more confidently, as I hesitated in the final 60-second round and it cost me the game. I also discovered quiz shows are really fun! Although I didn’t quiz much before that, I really liked studying throughout my school years, so the interest in learning was there from quite a young age. I credit my excellent primary school teachers for enthusing me about knowledge, as well as my parents who emphasised the importance of doing well in my studies.

SH: And if memory serves, you appeared on The Einstein Factor – what was your special subject?

CT: You are right, I was on The Einstein Factor and my special subject was the TV series Poirot. I lost to Andrew McDonald, who went on to become the Series 4 champion.

SH: What did you learn from that experience?

CT: That Andrew knows a LOT about the Luftwaffe and heaps of other stuff! I picked up that buzzer technique (timing) is very important, and that in most quiz shows, you must stay very focussed as the outcome can change in a matter of seconds.

SH: Back in 2015, you were a contestant on Million Dollar Minute – how did you go there?

CT: I won $75,000 on Million Dollar Minute.

Cheryl on ‘Million Dollar Minute’

SH: And what did you learn from that experience?

CT: It was really important on that show to get into a good rhythm with the buzzing. I also found from my own experience, and from watching others who’d gone on this show before me, that staying calm helps one’s performance. I learned that I didn’t have the most resilient attitude towards failure, and I have tried to change for the better since then.

SH: Before The Chase came along, you had been a lawyer in your professional life. Did that help prepare you in any way for your role in the show? If so, how?

CT: Oh I’m still a lawyer Stephen! I still have a regular day job like most people. 🙂  I don’t know if training in any particular field gives you an advantage in quizzing. It’s true though that lawyers are used to reading a lot. And I think reading widely is one of the most effective ways to learn trivia, so maybe there is a connection there – not so much with the legal profession but rather with jobs that require a good deal of reading, because the habit might make you faster at reading and processing that information.

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That’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next week, we discuss the origins of Cheryl’s Tiger Mum persona, she reveals her training regimen for being a Chaser, and shares her Two Top Tips for anyone wanting to be a contestant on the show. Until then, then!  

 

 

More on Martin’s ‘Millionaire’ moments…

Just a bit of an update today, on one of the first ever Game Show Winner interviews I did for this site!

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Back in August 2013, I interviewed Australia’s first ever Who Wants To Be A Millionaire millionaire, Martin Flood. Martin gave me a very detailed and thorough account of his whole WWTBAM adventure, covering all his preparation, the homework he did, the tactics he employed, the mental exercises he did, and the methods he used to keep the right attitude…. which culminated in him winning the ultimate prize – $1,000,000! The interview ran over 9 instalments, and I think it’s ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL READING for anyone contemplating going on that particular show.

Martin got in touch with me recently to let me know that somebody has now uploaded his two episodes to YouTube. So you can watch them right now, by clicking on the image below…

BUT I’d suggest reading my interview with Martin alongside watching the episodes on YouTube… that way, you can see (and hear) the exact moments from the show that Martin describes in the interview, as he describes them. A fully immersive HowToWinGameShows multimedia experience!

So, here are the links to my interview with Martin:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

And once more, here’s the link to his two episodes on YouTube….

And while we’re on the subject of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, you might also be interested to visit (or re-visit) my exclusive interview with the show’s Executive Producer Steve Gilbert. You can find that right here.

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… And that’s it for this week! And while we’re on this subject, if you’re an aspiring Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestant – or a former Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestant – please do drop me a line, and let me know how your WWTBAM experience compares to Martin’s!

Until next time! 

 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Saaale’ – Pete Smith! Part V

Mr Pete Smith, OAM

This week sees the conclusion of my interview with the legendary Pete Smith, and I should point out that this week’s post carries a language warning (of sorts). So if you’re offended by the transcription of a crow call that sounds a little bit like a certain rude word, I’d recommend only reading the first half of the post.

And now that that’s out of the way… Enjoy!

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SH: One final question, if I may…

PS: I think you’ve short changed me a bit, Stephen.

SH: What do you mean?

PS: Well, I’ve been 54 years on Channel Nine and you’ve only devoted this much time…

SH: No, no please – I could talk to you all day!

PS: Maybe we can come back again.

SH: I would love to. Can we do another session? That would be fantastic.

PS: Here I am begging for more interview. I’m really jesting with you but thank you.

SH: I could listen to you for hours, but…

PS: I think what you’re doing is terrific, because in this business we love, this terrible business called television, history can get lost so easily. I admire what you’re doing, because it means that it’s going to be somewhere, someone’s going to pick it up.

SH: Oh, good. Thank you very much, Pete.

PS: So the more of that, the merrier. And to be able to pass on to young people like you, some of the things about the way it was – it’s a joy, it really is. Because you can’t be expected to know. You can’t be expected to know that it was 24 ½ minutes for a ‘Pal’ dog food commercial (on In Melbourne Tonight)I mean it’s trivial, but you can’t be expected to know that was the environment.

SH: But if you’re interested in all this stuff – as I am – then it’s wonderful to be able to go to the source; you were there!

PS: Well it is. Take Graham Kennedy’s infamous ‘crow call  – that didn’t just happen in a minute, Kennedy had a death wish ; he wanted to get out. I don’t know why he didn’t go to management and say “look I want to finish up”. So he’d become very difficult, but the ‘crow call’ didn’t happen overnight. For over two years – maybe three, maybe more – Kennedy used to delight in sending us up to the audience while we were doing our commercials, which we had to memorise. One of my main ones was for Colvan Chips. The advertiser paid good money for the thing and one night you can see him out of the corner of your eye other side of the studio right in front of the audience, monkeying around. The bird calls, the crow calls started with Rosemary Margan, while she was doing live reads for Cedel baby powder or whatever, and he used to delight in doing it to her. He’d  be going “Tweet, tweet, tweet….” Well, the audience of course are laughing and he’s

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Saaale’ – Pete Smith! Part IV

Mr Pete Smith

Welcome back to my interview with the living legend of Australian television that IS Pete Smith.

After all his decades in the industry, and his 21-year gig on $ale of the Century, I wanted to ask Pete what he saw as the future of game shows.

So I did.

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SH: Pete, what do you see as the future of game shows?

PS: Well I see the future of game shows wrapped up in the future of free to air television. The game show – along with sport and news – is the sort of thing that television, I think, does best. And so I hope that the future of game shows will be saved by the facts that these sorts of things don’t really sit well in a box set. They need to almost be live. Even though they are all recorded in advance, you do have the advantage – if you don’t pre-record too far ahead – of reflecting what’s going on outside. I think perhaps games shows are going to have to maybe address that.

SH: Right, right.

PS: A lot of the shows are recorded sometimes many weeks or months in advance, but I think it’s going to have to come back to reflecting a little more on what’s going on immediately.

SH: Of course, it’s the immediacy, isn’t it? And even if it’s recorded, say, a month in advance you can still talk about things that are relatively current.

PS: Things have to be edited I understand that, of course, and we have come a long way. A lot of the things that I was involved in those so-called golden years when we were on live… People say “why isn’t it live? It would be terrific if it was live”. But the fact it was live is because frankly technically, once you put it on to a kinescope on 16 millimetre film – just prior to videotape revolutionising things – it was quite obvious, once it had been recorded and played back, that it wasn’t live. It was grainy, it didn’t look good at all, and you couldn’t pass it off as live. So that’s mainly why things went out live.

SH: It was a technical necessity.

PS: Yes, and the only aspect of that era that I would think would be lovely to retain would be the non-editing. Because one of the joys of going out live is that you see it ‘warts and all’. People are sitting at home in their dressing gowns and they are seeing us making mistakes too. You don’t want the mistakes – of course you don’t – but at the same time you don’t want to plasticise it either.

SH: We are all human.

PS: Unfortunately, television has become a bit like that; a bit plastic.

SH: I agree with you, it’s like an element of live theatre where things can go wrong.

PS: And there’s the difference! There’s the attraction of live theatre – you know it’s there, live.

SH: It’s happening right now!

PS: Back on $ale of the Century, one of the prizes was a whole lot of money; the “Cash Jackpot”. I’d announce it, they would cut to Tony and the contestant, and this acrylic see-through box would be lowered down onto the set, and all the money was there inside it.

SH: Yes! That was real money, wasn’t it?

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Saaale’ – Pete Smith! Part III

Mr Pete Smith, OAM

Hello and welcome to the third instalment of my interview with Pete Smith. In addition to an incredible career spanning SEVEN DECADES (from the 1950s until now), Pete has many other strings to his bow. In 2004, he was made a member of the Order of Australia, for service to the community, and back in the late seventies, he worked closely with the man who would later become world famous as Mick “Crocodile” Dundee…

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SH: Just off on a tangent, for a moment, from game shows; I believe you worked with Paul Hogan?

PS: Yes. Paul came down. Well Paul originally was a contestant on New Faces. I think in the Frank Wilson period before Bert took over the New Faces show, and I don’t think Paul won. But whether he won or not, it was seen by The Powers That Be, and I think Mike Willesee saw the thing and saw a spark in the guy, and offered him a fun segment on a Friday night on A Current Affair to lighten up the end of the week – to end the week on a lighter note… and the rest, of course, is history.

SH: He came to Melbourne and was given his own show, because he’s originally from Sydney, isn’t he?

PS: Yes, but he did used to do the shows in Melbourne. It’s amazing how they went through all those years with the limited studio space that they had. So in the Paul Hogan specials, a lot of it was pre-recorded, and most of those comedy sketches that still exist today, you see the outside ones were shot on film by John Bowring who’s no longer with us, a wonderful cinematographer who started in the 9 newsroom. Then finally The Paul Hogan Show was all on videotape, so I had a few bits and pieces (acting in some of the sketches). I’ve been a ‘bits and pieces’ man all along – probably that’s what saved my bacon.

SH: Fantastic – you’ve been versatile.

PS: That’s why I’m still around. People say “Well, what are you doing now?” Well I do ‘Community Affairs’. And if you’ve ever had an affair in the community, you know how it can be exhausting.

SH: Boom boom! Thank you very much! I’m conscious of the limited time we have today, so can I ask you about any general game show highlights or game show memories that stick out?

PS: Some of the great times in the show were when they had the Celebrity $ale of the Century specials. Of course television is wonderful of cannibalising itself, and the celebrity shows that I recall at $ale of the Century really did have celebrities. I mean, Gough Whitlam was on the show for God’s sake, and that’s just one stand-out name I mention. They really did manage to get big names. And unfortunately after a long period of time with other shows that tried to get celebrities too, it became a bit like I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. And I don’t mean to put that down…

SH: No, but… who are those people?

PS: and eventually, the bigger celebrities didn’t want to do that sort of thing, unfortunately.

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More’s the pity. Next week, as our discussion continues, I ask Pete for his thoughts on the future of game shows, and we discuss the importance – and increasing rarity – of live television, and what that may mean to the future of the industry in general. 

See you next Tuesday!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Saaale’ – Pete Smith! Part II

Mr Pete Smith

Hello, and welcome to HowToWinGameShows.comOr, as Pete Smith would say, “HooooooooowToWinGameShows.com

Don’t believe me? Just click on the ‘WARM WELCOME FROM PETE SMITH’ window on the top right of the page, to hear for yourself.

As my interview with Pete continues this week, I wanted to keep things on a game show footing, so I asked him……

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SH: You also worked on Bert’s Family Feud. How was that different from $ale of the Century, in terms of contestants?

PS: Well, it was a totally different situation, really. It was very loose. The Family Feud format again is a terrific format, but it’s a format that’s based on fun, and humour. But Bert was his usual self, when normally these formats are very, very strict. The owner of the format is usually very clear about how you present the thing; I remember on $ale, the phrase “$5 with which to begin”… some of those things are followed to the letter. But then of course Tony Barber made the show his own. He knew it so well that he took it to really new heights.

SH: He was a hit!

PS: He was. And another thing… back then, because the set was so expensive (with all its electronic components), when the format was sold to someone else say in France, Japan, Hong Kong, or Germany, every now and then we’d have an entourage coming in from overseas to take over the studio and the set for the day, and record a pilot.

SH: Oh, really? From another country?

PS: From another country. And you would see the little French guy speaking in French, bounce out exactly the same way Tony used to bounce out. They wanted everything to be exactly the way the successful format in Australia was, so they didn’t want to diverge from anything on the show. Even the announcer who did the announcement. I remember particularly the one for Hong Kong; the show was called Dai Soubut. They couldn’t get the translation the $ale of the Century; it was called The Big Spender which was Dai Soubut. And I remember the announcer doing it just like I did the $ale one; Daaaai Soooou But! Of course the reason I did the $ale of the Century read like that was to do with Garry Meadows,  who was the original Price is Right compere in Australia.

SH: I remember him.

PS: But at this particular time he was working for Grundy’s, as the first producer of $ale of the Century. By that time everything was pre-recorded, not much was live. And Garry was auditioning freelance announcers for the show, and being the only announcer left at Channel 9 I was going from my office where I wrote the scripts to the booth on the other side of the building in Richmond. Backwards and forwards all day, that was my mode of operation. And as I’d go past the foyer, I’d notice these freelance guys sitting there; there’d be a different one every time I walked past. I thought “Oh, hello – they’re going to replace me!”. You’re always the last to know in this business.

SH: The writing’s on the wall…

PS: And on one tour down the corridor, I bumped into Garry Meadows, and he said “We’re auditioning – we’ve got a new quiz show starting”. He then said “the next guy hasn’t turned up yet. Come into the control room, and I’ll show you what we’re doing”. So we went up to the control room and showed me a little bit of videotape – no music on it, or anything – of a caption card with $ale of the Century written on it, and it was on a turntable. Pretty basic – of course there were no computer graphics back then. Just this card, slowly rotating into view, so that you could read what was written on it. So they ran this bit of tape and they gave me a script that said “welcome to the world’s richest quiz – $ale of the Century“. So Garry said “when the red light comes on, I’ll run the tape”, so I go into the booth and I do it. But it didn’t work; the read was too short…I thought I can’t just say “Sale of the Century” because the thing hadn’t completely turned around to reveal, those words. So I said “Just one more time, Garry? And he ran the tape again and I said “welcome to the world’s richest quiz”, and the thing still hadn’t turned completely around, so I went “Saaaaaaale of the Century!” Well, within 10 seconds Gary had burst in the door of the booth, saying “That’s what we wanted! Will you do it?”

SH: All just because of a slow moving turntable.

PS: And a chance meeting in the corridor.

SH: And then you went on to say it another 4610 times!

PS: Is that right? Gee whiz!

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It is indeed, Pete. It is indeed. And that’s where we leave it for this week. Next week, on a slight tangent, Pete reminisces about working with Paul Hogan!

We’ll see you back here, then.

This is Stephen Hall speaking.