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.

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!”