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

Mr Pete Smith

Hello!

Today I’m very pleased to bring you an interview that I’ve been wanting to do for years. The gentleman I’m speaking to today has had a career in Australian television that has actually lasted as long as Australian television itself!

Ladies and gentlemen, today on HowToWinGameShows.com, I’m speaking to the one and only Pete Smith.

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SH: Pete Smith, thank you so much for joining me today officially for How to Win Game Shows.com.

PS: That’s a pleasure! I’ve got my announcer’s voice on Stephen, if you noticed.

SH: It’s beautiful, I love it. You are one of the longest-serving members of the entertainment community in Australian television. How many years has it been now?

PS: I started at the ABC as a kid in ’57, just after the (Melbourne) Olympics and that was a good time to start, because radio was still king then for that short little time before TV took over. So radio is my grounding, at the ABC but then in ’64, I came across to the Fun Factory.

SH: The Fun Factory in Richmond?

PS: In Richmond.

SH: Bendigo Street (Channel 9), yes.

PS: And back then, there were 9 full time booth announcers.

SH: That’s amazing.

PS: And I was just one of them. Because everything was done live. It was like radio with pictures, you had to be in the announcing booth because every commercial break consisted of live reads. There wasn’t the sophistication of video tape, most of the commercials were on film or just glass slides with a live read by the announcer, so you couldn’t move out of the booth during your shift. And sometimes if Graham Kennedy (host of the live show In Melbourne Tonight) was in a mad mood, it was an open ended show. For a 60 second live commercial, I think the record was 24½ minutes. That was for a Pal dog food commercial, when Rover The Wonder Dog wouldn’t eat the food.

SH: The advertisers got their money’s worth.

PS: They certainly did in those days. The live reads were rehearsed the first thing during the day. The first production piece was at 3:30 when the live commercials were rehearsed, but when they went on air particularly with Graham and Bert (on In Melbourne Tonight), they bore no resemblance to what the rehearsal was… but that was expected.

SH: Pete, can we move to your tenure at the $ale of the Century? You were there for 22 seasons, and 4610 episodes!

PS: Gee I didn’t realise it was that many. It was 21 years, wasn’t it? I do remember that.

SH: It was. I grew up watching it and playing along at home, I went on the show twice, and you were there doing not just the announcing, including this famous show ID….

… but you also did the audience warm up for the show.  

PS: Yes, and really the warm up  – of course, unseen by the television audience – was very important, because a lot of those people came in and stayed all day through 5 episodes and a lunch break, and we didn’t regard them as fodder; we regarded them as an important part of the program.

SH: And some of them were nervous, too, because some of them were about to go on the show!

PS: Yeah, for sure.

SH: In all of that time, do any spectacularly bad contestants stick in your mind?

PS: No I don’t think so. They had to pass some sort of criteria; it wasn’t just Joe Blow off the street. So it was people with a real intent – they weren’t going to make a fool of themselves, it wasn’t a comedy show.

SH: When I think of Sale of the Century, I think of some of the freakishly good contestants like Carey Young.

PS: Oh, absolutely! And Carey of course lived and breathed quiz, he stands out in my mind as the most prominent contestant on the show, and then he went on to make it his business and he wrote questions for the show.

SH: Yeah that’s right, and he wrote quizzes for newspapers too, I think. Being in the front line for so many episodes, did you learn any strategies that some of the successful contestants might have used?

PS: Yes I think so. The $ale format (which was The Great Temptation before that) was one of the ultimate quiz show formats where you have somebody get out in front then you tempt them with something, which is brilliant really, when you think about it. And you don’t tempt them with a carton of cigarettes; you tempt them with something really worthwhile, which brings a competitive edge back in. On that first week that we recorded, Mel Gibson’s father Hutton was on the show. He was pretty spectacular really, Hutton Gibson. I think Mel might have done a couple of local bits and pieces but he hadn’t risen to prominence back then.

SH: Oh that’s an interesting bit of trivia…

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And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. As our chat continues next week, we discuss Family Feud, and how Pete got the $ale of the Century gig in the first place…

An addition to being so generous with his time, Pete also very kindly agreed to record a little greeting, exclusively for HowToWinGameShows.com.

And you can see (and hear) it by clicking on the play icon in the little window at the top of this page!

Thanks Pete! Our chat continues here next Tuesday.

Until then, then!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Game Show Guru’ Scott Hostetler – Part II

Scott Hostetler, The Game Show Guru!

Hello!

The Story So Far…

Last week, I started to interview Scott Hostetler, The Game Show Guru, from www.TheGameShowGuru.com.

This week, that interview continues.

Um – that’s it, really.

Now read on…..

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Stephen Hall (SH #1): It looks like your passion for game shows extends beyond just appearing on them; your site also mentions that you’ve created one game show and were co-creator on another. What can you tell us about them?

Scott Hostetler (SH #2): I created a game I called Final Judgment; a two team trivia game where you bet points down to the ‘Final Judgment’. I have run tournaments and people have a lot of fun playing it. No success getting TV to notice it…yet. The other show HAS been rejected by TV guru Bob Boden. It was a show where I coach a group of people on getting on game shows. It had games in it and weekly eliminations. I had a meeting with Bob, but he was up to his eyeballs producing The Chase and thought the concept might be too contrived. Oh well.

SH #1: In the book, you’re very generous in sharing not only all your game show adventures, but also all the lessons you’ve learned from them; all the Things To Do and all the Things NOT To Do. After the book was finished and published, did any subsequent thoughts occur to you? Any other stories, tips or hints that you’d have liked to mention, but which didn’t make it into the book (for whatever reason)?

SH #2: Maybe just to emphasise that you should always keep trying, and let the outcome lie. If you play a game and lose (or don’t win as much as you could have), don’t stew on what could have been; let it go, because it will eat you up. I go, I play my best and I expect to win. If I make a mistake, and I have (like passing my spins from third place on Press You Luck), I try to learn from it and move on to the next game show.

SH #1: In your long career as a game show contestant, you must have seen many changes in the game show landscape over the years. What do you think is the future of game shows?

SH #2: Game shows run in cycles; high and low seasons. They have changed more recently with trying to combine the physical with the mental. People will always watch game shows because they are entertaining, fast paced and emotionally charged. It’s fun and I think they will keep getting better (as long as they put me on them!)

SH #1: And finally, what’s coming up next for The Game Show Guru?

SH #2: I am always looking for my next game show… and maybe I will investigate the coaching aspect a little more. I love talking about game shows, and I love that I can help people realize a lifelong dream. One of my readers, Brian Schwartz of Philadelphia, recently came to California to appear on Wheel of Fortune, which was a dream of his. His show aired on April 13th and he made me proud! Still 100% success rate!

SH #1: Scott, thank you so much again for your time, for your book, and I’d just like to wish The Game Show Guru all the very best in all his future endeavours!

SH #2: Thank you very much, Stephen, and I look forward to reading your book!

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I’d like to thank Scott again for his time, and for sharing some of his impressive accumulated wisdom in this area. Just a final reminder, you can read my review of Scott’s book Winning Secrets From The Game Show Guru (SPOILER ALERT: I liked it, and I gave it three game show buzzers out of four), and you can purchase the book right HERE.

Next time….

 

 

 

 

See you then!

 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Game Show Guru’ Scott Hostetler – Part I

Scott Hostetler – The Game Show Guru!

Hello!

Well, as promised last week, here is my latest HowToWinGameShows.com interview. Scott Hostetler (AKA The Game Show Guru) is something of a career game show contestant, having appeared on 19 of them over the years. He’s also written a book about all his experiences, which is also chock-full of handy hints. The book’s called Winning Secrets From The Game Show Guru, and you can order it from Scott’s website right HERE. I reviewed the book here on the blog a couple of years ago, and so was really pleased when Scott agreed to be interviewed by me for the site. Here’s how it turned out…………….

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Stephen Hall (SH #1): Scott, thank you so much for speaking to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com. When you published the book back in 2009, you were a veteran of some 17 game shows. Have you added any more appearances to your list since then, and if so, could you tell us about those most recent game show adventures?

Scott Hostetler (SH #2): Since the book was published in 2009, I have appeared on two more game shows – Catch 21 on GSN where I won $26,000 cash and The Price is Right with Drew Carey where I won $44,047 total. My goal when I went on TPIR was to win a tropical vacation and a new car… I won a trip to Maui, Hawaii, a new Ford Escape and a trip to Scotland to the Olympics! It’s on YouTube if you search my name.

(* Or you can just click here! – SH#1)

SH #1: Congratulations! I was intrigued to read on your site that 100% of the people you’ve personally coached have won money on game shows, and to hear some of their testimonials in the introductory video there. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

SH #2: Many of the people I have coached are friends and relatives but I do make myself available through the phone and email to people who have read the book and have specific questions or seek advice.

SH #1: Do you run formal group classes in game show preparation?

SH #2: I have not held a formal class, but I would love to do it if the opportunity presented itself. I have not charged for personal counsel; I figure people have already bought the book but if I ran a class I would probably have some kind of fee.

SH #1: Have you ever considered running an online, subscription-only course in game show preparation? I think there could be a big market for that, and given your unique credentials, it’s a market that you could definitely corner!

SH #2: I have thought about an online course and your very kind encouragement may spur me to develop something…

SH #1: I don’t want to ask you for too many game show tips or hints for our visitors – that would defeat the purpose of plugging the book (which, again, I recommend, and which you can get HERE, by the way)… But if you could offer ONE big essential tip or hint for anyone preparing to audition for a game show, what would it be?

SH #2: There are two aspects to game shows – one is getting on, and two is winning! It doesn’t do any good to get on a show if you don’t win. I have been on 19 game shows and won 15 times and I love it! A tip to get on is to follow the Producers’ instructions! I am amazed at the number of times we have been told to do something or not to do something and people ignore the person picking the contestants! If you can’t follow simple instructions in a conference room, how can they trust you to follow directions on the stage?

A tip to win is Study the Game! Musicians and actors rehearse, athletes practice and make a game plan… you get one chance to be on a show; don’t waste it! Study and prepare. I give you tips on how to do that in the book.

SH (#1): Thanks, Scott – that’s actually two tips!

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And that’s where we’ll leave it for today. Next week, in the second and final part of my chat with Scott, I ask him about the game shows he’s created, we discuss the future of game shows, and ONE BIG TIP that didn’t make it into his book.

All that, and more, next Tuesday…

Until then, then!

A brand new MYSTERY GUEST!

Hello!

Just a quick one this week to let you know about next week’s next brand new EXCLUSIVE interview for HowToWinGameShows.com, with a VERY SPECIAL MYSTERY GUEST.

Now, I don’t want to say too much… but I will say that this particular mystery guest is known to be a little bit of a “Game Show Guru”….

In fact, he happens to run the website TheGameShowGuru.com

And he’s written a book called Winning Secrets From The Game Show Guru.

AND his name’s Scott Hostetler.

Hmmm….. WHO COULD IT POSSIBLY BE?

Be sure to check back here NEXT WEEK to find out!

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 VI – The Conclusion

Mr John Deeks

Hello, and welcome to the final instalment of my exclusive interview with Game Show Voice Over Legend (or GSVOL) Mr John Deeks. I first met and really got to know Deeksie in 2003, when we were both working on the Australian version of Deal Or No Deal.

Now, as you may have noticed in my interviews for this site, I always make a point of asking my interview subjects for any tips or hints they may have for would-be contestants on the various shows they’ve worked on…. ==============================

SH: I was going to ask if you had any tips for anyone wanting to go on Deal or No Deal. But Deal or No Deal is a funny one because there’s no skill that you can bring to that game as a contestant.

JD: None at all, it’s pure luck.

SH: Yeah, it’s a blind guessing game, and kudos to Andrew O’Keefe for making it all seem interesting.

JD: Oh, that’s what I’m saying, man!

SH: He was and is, he’s just brilliant. I say he’s way, way smarter than 90% of the population.

JD: Absolutely.

SH: But he’s very humble too, and you just get the feeling that he loves every minute he’s alive.

JD: He’s channelling his uncle J.O.K… and he’s got his father who was a big, big lawyer Justice O’Keefe. So you combine those two, and… mate! But he’s a lovely person and he listens.

SH: Yeah that’s right. I was always amazed at how he remembers everyone’s name and everyone’s family’s names and everyone’s kids names’ – and everyone’s hobbies! – in a production where he worked with many, many people… and he had all of them down pat!

JD: Yep and everyone loves him. He’s like “Turps”; everyone loved him, and there was always a “Turps’ story… and they’re all true. And now there’s always an O’Keefe story. And as we know now – with the internet generation – they’re all true. 

SH: He’s a Bon Vivant. 

JD: That’s very Christian of you. (Laughs)

SH: He has a zest for life! 

JD: Yeah he does.

SH: Deeksie, I want to wrap it up in a minute – and thank you so much again for your time today – but before you go, I want to ask you one final question. What do you see as the future of game shows?

JD: Hmm. I think that, as long as people are greedy….

SH: Yes….

JD: And as long as people want to look at – and judge – people, there will always be a place for game shows.

SH: It’s those basic human needs, isn’t it?

JD: Yeah it is. It’s escapism, it’s comfort… and all the better if you can play along at home. That’s one of the main ingredients. And you might think that by now we’d be dumbing down game shows, but in fact they are not. Because – as you know, as a writer – the game shows are becoming more intelligent. The questions are becoming more intelligent. It’s not “How much is this pack of pasta?”, or “What’s the cost of this fridge?” We’ve kind of passed that now, so the Nirvana is picking up format that can run a long time like a Wheel, like a Deal and not be overly expensive, because that’s why we don’t have any tonight shows anymore because they’re so expensive to do here in Australia. So game shows have to be economical, they can’t be too expensive, the host has to be likeable, and the play along at home factor is very important too. 

SH: Well, John Deeks, thank you so much for your time today, and for chatting to me for the site – it’s been great!

JD: Thank you very much indeed, Mr Hall.

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And at the risk of repeating myself, I’d like to thank Deeksie again for giving so generously of his time and reminiscences. If you’d like to see what he’s up to now – or even maybe get in touch with him – you can find him at JohnDeeks.com.

See you next Tuesday!

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 V

Those pesky Whammies from ‘Press Your Luck’

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….

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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.

SH: Essential.

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.

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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!”

 

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….

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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… 

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

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

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.