‘It Took Two’… Part III

As I wrap up the whole It Takes Two adventure this week, I look back at some of the other highlights of the show, as the imminent arrival of our baby draws nearer and nearer… 

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As you’ll recall from a couple of weeks ago, I signed on to It Takes Two on the understanding that I’d have to leave about half way through the series of 10 episodes, as that was when my wife Judi was due to give birth to our baby. The pregnancy was far from trouble-free for her, though, as she was suffering from bad hyperemesis. She was nauseous, rundown and depressed; essentially bed-ridden. I remember at one stage in those first five weeks rushing her to hospital; we were certain that the baby was going to arrive early – that day – and we were both frightened. All the signs were there, Judi was having what we thought were contractions… They kept us both in there for quite a few hours, until we were finally given the all clear. The baby was fine, it was not going to make an appearance today. It had been a false alarm. So, more than a little rattled, we returned home, to Judi’s sick bed there. To be leaving Judi for these weekly 2-3 day trips down to Melbourne (800 km away from where we were living, in Sydney) was getting harder and harder…

Having said that, once the first couple of episodes of It Takes Two were done, and we’d streamlined our systems of putting the show together, there were some great moments…

One of them was getting to meet – and work with – Ross Wilson, who was one of the judges on the show. This man is a living legend of Australian rock. From fronting Daddy Cool in the early 70s – with their massive hit Eagle Rock, to producing Skyhooks in the mid 70s, when they were at the height of their fame. I also remembered him from my teenage years, as the songwriter and frontman of the band Mondo Rock, who had a number of hits, and whose albums I owned. I was so impressed to meet him, and he was a lovely, humble, chatty bloke. Nice when you meet people you admire and they turn out to be like that.

Another highlight was hearing – live – the incredible voice of Guy Sebastian. He’d been partnered up with Olympic swimmer Sarah Ryan for the show, and the contrast between their levels of talent was, well, noticeable...

I’ll never forget one of the first episodes, when they performed the old standard Beyond The Sea. I was standing at the side of the stage, watching the show as it all unfolded live, and Sarah had been given the first verse. She got the timing right and hit all the notes. And then Guy sang… It was amazing – I was completely unprepared for the smoothness, the brilliance, the soulfulness of his voice. I got goosebumps. I was so surprised at my reaction. Just marvellous. (Fun fact: Guy Sebastian was the first ever Australian singer to represent our country in The Eurovision Song Contest, in 2015.)

One morning in the third or fourth week, as I was due to fly down to Melbourne, Judi was really sick. Sicker than usual. I wanted to stay with her, but I had to go to work; people were counting on me. I left the house, got in the car, started my drive to the airport, and stopped.

I thought “What am I doing?”

What had my priorities become?

I turned around, went back home, rang the Executive Producers and explained the situation to them. Both EPs – Julie Ward (now having great success with The Voice) and Lisa Fitzpatrick (who later became an executive at the network) – were very sympathetic, and understood entirely. “Don’t give us a second thought,” they said.

So I quit. If my child was going to be born early, I didn’t want to miss out. I didn’t want to be 800 km away. I could never have lived with myself, knowing I missed that once-in-a-lifetime event due to nothing more important than an episode of It Takes Two. (No doubt Judi wouldn’t have been too happy, either.) I mean, we weren’t curing cancer here, people. And it’s not every day you welcome your own child into the world.

I left the show, and stayed in Sydney, with my wife, as we counted down the days…

Predictably enough, the show managed without me. Down in Melbourne, one of the associate producers – who’d previously worked on Dancing With The Stars – took over my role. She confided to me, much later, that it was one of the most stressful gigs she’d ever done. The series was a success, though, and it went right through, as planned, until August 8th. For those keeping score at home, (model and actress) Erika Heynatz and (opera singer) David Hobson went on to win the series…

… While up in Sydney, on July 11th 2006, Lily Genevieve Hall was born, happy and healthy.

Our very own duo had become a trio.

Confessions of a ‘Family Feud’ warm up man… Part VI

 

Russell Fletcher

Russell Fletcher

Hey, I must say it was great to chat to Angela and Andrew on Weekend Sunrise about How To Win Game Shows on Sunday! If you didn’t see our brief interview, you can catch it right here. But now, back to business. And this week, as my chat with Family Feud‘s studio audience host and warm up man Russell Fletcher continues, Russell lifts the curtain on how to find out when the show will next be auditioning, the best mindset to have when playing Family Feud, and what not to say when you’re asked to name a city beginning with D…

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SH: This is the third year now of Family Feud‘s run on Channel Ten – it started in 2014?

RF: That’s right. 

SH: It’s been a big success for the network. Has it been renewed through to the end of the year?

RF: Well, we’re going up to June, but we didn’t start until the second half of 2014 so we haven’t been 2 years yet. I guess something that the wider audience might not know is that when auditions opened in May 2014, eight and a half thousand families applied and basically broke the system. Because there are only 2 or 3 producers that can work with the contestants! Everyone else has got other jobs. So we closed auditions down immediately so people who applied back then… we are still working through that number of families. That is a lot of people; that is eight and half thousand by four. 

RF: I am doing auditions tomorrow night in Melbourne and then we have Adelaide coming up very soon. And we just spent a double header this weekend in Sydney with 40 families per day. So we do meet a lot of people. That may be something that the general public might not know. We are about to finish working through that backlog of people. I think they are going to open up the auditions again too. 

SH: That’s good to know, because I did get a few questions on the Facebook page asking “how do I audition for it?” and saying “I went to the Family Feud website, and it said auditions are currently closed”… Well, now we know why. That’s huge. 

RF: It is always worth maybe emailing Fremantle or maybe having a look at tenplay because we are just about to announce that auditions will be opening. I think that would be really good fun because it almost will be like a different market, like a fresh pool of people come to the show. It is really interesting how many  different school groups, media groups who kept coming along for the records, I find that every school teacher, especially the primary school teachers actually play Family Feud with their classes. They do their own survey questions, they survey the class and they have the top answers because it is a fun way of getting to know how everyone thinks. 

SH: It is a Social Sciences exercise, I guess. 

RF: Yes, in a way. How do people think? We have a bunch of camera rehearsal questions and there is one question in there: “Name a city beginning with the letter D” and the first thing you would say….?

SH: Me? Dunedin

RF: Dunedin’s very good. That is on there.  

SH: Or Darwin

RF: Darwin’s the top answer.

SH: Düsseldorf.

RF: Düsseldorf is not zare, sadly, for za cherman peeple. Düsseldorf peeple, don’t be dizappointed. Out of 100 Australians – and I’m not saying these surveys are like Morgan Research or anything – but out of  100 Australians, “Darwin”, “Dublin”, “Dallas”, “Denver”, the greater city of “Dandenong“… Most of our contestants say Denmark. 

SH: (PAUSE) As a city?

RF: Yyyesss…. and all the camera guys know that I hate that response – because I am an atlas guy – and they go “Ooohh….” (LAUGHS) 

SH: The great city of Denmark. Knowing what you know, if you were a contestant on the show, how would you approach it?

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Confessions of a ‘Family Feud’ warm up man… Part V

Russell, with the 'Family Feud' audience

Russell, with the ‘Family Feud’ audience

So, Russell Fletcher (Family Feud studio audience host and warm up man par excellence) is talking us through a typical recording day on the Feud. So far, the contestants have auditioned, gained a place on the show, and made their way in to the studio, all pumped and primed and ready to play the game on national television, for the chance to win big bucks… and maybe even a car! And you can read about all the preceding steps that brought them to this point in my previous posts here, herehere and here.

So now the families have arrived at the studio, and they’re excitedly awaiting their 15 minutes of fame, some more graciously than others…

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SH: The families that are waiting to go on; do they watch the show in the audience, or is there a Green Room?

RF: Yes, there is a Green Room. 

SH: Do they mingle?

RF: Some of them do and some do not. Some of them are real prima donnas and some of them actually turn into real a***holes, which is really interesting. And that’s why we’re pretty fastidious about saying on the audition day “We are looking for people we want to work with”. And some families have been hilarious, sending us emails about their rider; you know, “we need 14 different types of cola, we need three dwarves massaging our feet…”  They are really, really funny. We do get lots of emails thanking us for the experience they’ve had. Because our team is totally professional but also incredibly relaxed and all about saying “:Guys, be playful, have fun, don’t over-think it”. It’s a game, and we are just trying to give everyone a really good experience. Some families are like Eyes-On-The-Prize Only and you go “Dude, it’s not worth it – you might win ten, you might win twenty”. I think our highest money winner has been thirty something, thirty thousand dollars…

SH: And that’s over three nights?

RF: Yeah, so it’s ten grand up for grabs every night. No one’s won more than $34,000. We have given away about, over the journey – and it’s been nearly 2 years now – 7 or 8 cars? Maybe more. I am not sure of the actual number. But it would be good to see a graphic of how many families we’ve auditioned, how many have got through that process and then how many families we have had on the show. I think they are trying to work that out, but keeping those statistics is quite complicated. You can shoot a bunch of episodes in the afternoon and then by the evening record session not know who you had on that afternoon because we meet so many people and some of them are quite unremarkable. And then there are some families who are quite remarkable – like they’re playful, they’re funny, they’re articulate but they are not false. They are just real and they have a good story. I always like meeting the salt-of-the-earth people. They are awesome. That is truly one of the delightful things about it. It’s ten thousand dollars which is a lot of money but it is not heaps of money – Stephen Hall, former game show winner – and how excited people get about getting through the show and then winning ten grand is actually really delightful because they get so excited! And it’s fun and they are grateful and they are thankful. It does actually confirm your belief in human nature. 

SH: That’s nice. 

RF: It is nice. 

SH: What time would a studio day recording finish?

RF: We try and record from 2:30 till about five. But we never get three episodes done in that time. It usually goes up until 5:30 and then we have a meal break and then we have another audience for two episodes in the evening. We hope to finish by 8:30 but generally go closer to 9:00. 

SH:  And the families that are in those final two episodes presumably have been there since 10 that morning?

RF: That is right. So it is a long day and they have to manage their energy. The producers are really good at coaching them and we kind of reinforce that as well a lot. Show business is about managing your energy and your expectations and then just turning up when your time comes. 

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Russell’s point about “managing your energy” here is worth repeating. As has been pointed out in previous interviews by various guests, studio record days are long. Really long. And there’s a lot of sitting around and waiting. Then, all of a sudden, you’re ON, and instantly expected to be performing at peak capacity. It’s a good idea to learn a few little relaxation techniques – even if it’s just sitting quietly somewhere and doing some deep breathing – and to make sure you bring some snacks. Such as muesli bars, or pieces of fruit, so that your blood sugar isn’t going up and down. Bringing a few snacks with you is a small thing, but if you’ve thought of it and your opponent hasn’t, then you will have a very, very slight edge before you’ve even gone on set.

And as we all know, every little bit helps….

Confessions of a ‘Family Feud’ warm up man… Part III

russell_fletcher

Russell Fletcher

As my chat with Family Feud warm-up person, and studio audience host, Russell Fletcher continues this week, the subject turns to those unexpected moments…

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SH: Do any moments spring to mind where contestants have really surprised you, either for better or for worse?

RF: Having done 470 episodes now, there are lots! People will say things that you don’t expect them to. Like they will make a salacious or rude comment, or a vaguely racist one. And you will just be going “I wasn’t expecting him to say that!” Fortunately it is not live to air and we will say, “Have another go”.

SH: Yes. “Any other thoughts, perhaps?”

RF: For instance, in the very first episode; “Name a yellow fruit”. BZZZ! “Orange?”

And I just go “Umm….” And because we have to have the contestants’ best interests at the core of what we do, we couldn’t put that in the episode. We just couldn’t do it.

SH: It’s a shame…

RF: It would be unconscionable. But what we did do was put it in all the promos for the show! But when it came to the day, it was edited out. And they did quite well. I can remember a really intelligent woman who was a doctor and the question was “Name an African animal you would see at a waterhole”. And “hippo” was up there, and “elephant” was up there, and she couldn’t think of any others and she said “platypus”. And that sort of thing happens all the time because people just don’t connect with the question, or they are having an out-of-body experience; they’re not in the moment, being able to think of different suggestions. The show is a combination of chat and answering questions and really surprising stuff comes out and sometimes it’s really touching, it is really nice. Just last week we had a Filipino family who were reunited after being separated for 33 years. They didn’t know each other existed because of parents’ divorces, etcetera. They had only been reunited three months earlier, they came and auditioned for the show and they got on the show and they’re still getting to know each other. That kind of stuff you just go “Whoa!” And there are people who’ve survived cancer and there’s people who have done amazing things, done stupid things, and they all open up to Grant, because they trust him and he gets them in a weak moment.

SH: But that stuff surely would be pre-screened, wouldn’t it? He’s not hearing this for the first time… 

RF: No. What happens is when they come to the studio, before we start doing anything with them, they are filling out forms; “Name your brush with fame”, “Name something you’re really good at”, “Name something you are embarrassed about”; those kind of questions are on the form and so when they actually make it to the show the writers go through that stuff and then check in with the families who’ve arrived at the studio. And then they go back and check it and then they’ll have a little discussion with Grant and he’ll have it on a card, in little bullet points. That could be about sporting achievements, being able to put their whole fist in their mouths, it could be they’re really good at Irish dancing, they could have met someone incredibly famous… but it was just in a lift. 

SH: But Grant would still get mileage out of even that; the anticlimactic nature of it… 

RF: That’s right. Grant has become so good at taking the piss, in the nicest kind of way. That’s the kind of stuff I find out on the spot, and I love playing with that kind of stuff. 

SH: Where it’s clear that the host isn’t laughing at them, but he is helping them to laugh at themselves.

RF: And sometimes we laugh at them…

SH: But they do too. That’s important. No one’s feelings are hurt. 

RF: The whole thing is about reading people and being able to take it in the direction you think that’s going to work. And that goes for both the audition and the recordings. 

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Next time, Russell reveals more about the mechanics of the record day, and breaks down how the audition process actually works on an audition day. Again, all greatly useful stuff to know, if you’re thinking of auditioning for the show.

Until next Tuesday, then!

 

Tales from the ‘Jeopardy!’ Rabbi…

Hello! Well, after all the excitement and publicity of last week’s big announcement (rather odd to be so celebrated for something I haven’t actually done yet), it’s now back to business as usual here at HowToWinGameShows.com.

And this week, I want to share with you an article – or a series of four articles, really – by Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman, from Westchester, New York, about his experience as a contestant on Jeopardy!

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Alex Trebek with Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman on the set of ‘Jeopardy!’

The series is entitled My Jewish Approach to Being on Jeopardy. I found Rabbi Mitelman’s perspective fascinating. I’d never seen a faith-related approach to game show contestant preparation and performance before, but his approach is far from exclusionary; these articles are chock full of ideas that can be applied by absolutely anyone who’s serious about winning game shows.

The articles are chatty and engaging, but Rabbi Mitelman is clearly someone who takes game show preparation very seriously. In the first article, he gives three great essential principles for game show success, which also happen to be great principles for the wider world, and life in general, that have also served him well in his career, and his education. They are, in essence:

1. Control what you can – and realize you don’t know how much control you have

2. Pay attention to the small — and seemingly irrelevant — things

3. Remember that remembering requires effort

Then, in the second article: How I Prepared, he discusses studying, practising, test-playing / rehearsing and buzzer technique – all pillars of a solid preparation regime. he even recommends an app called Jeopscore which allows you to keep track of your score as you play along at home. (I think it’s an Android app. I’ve searched, but haven’t had a lot of luck finding it. Please let me know if you fare better!) There are links to other great Jeopardy! resources here too, such as The J-Archive, the Anki flashcard app, and this great article by Karl Coryat.

The third article (The Lead-Up) covers the nuts-and-bolts of the online test, the audition, and receiving The all-important Call; The Call that means you’ve been selected to be on the show. This article is really more anecdotal in tone than the previous ones – it’s mainly outlining that particular part of the Jeopardy! contestant journey… although there is a mention of another training app called Knowledge Trainer, which I haven’t tried, but it does look pretty good!

The final article in the series of four – The Day Itself – chronicles Rabbi Mitelman’s in-studio Jeopardy! experience, and as such, contains spoilers. Spoilers which I certainly won’t reveal here. To find out what happens, you’ll just have to go and read it yourself!

All in all, this is a really great series of articles for anyone interested in winning game shows in general, and winning Jeopardy! in particular. As we see so often, there is so much more to winning game shows than meets the eye, and the well-prepared contestant will have the edge over the unprepared contestant each and every single time. In this series of articles, Rabbi Mitelman outlines a series of tips and hints that he used, and that anyone contemplating an appearance on Jeopardy! would do well to consider.

It’s an entertaining read, it’s jam-packed with useful tips, and I recommend it highly. So thank you again, Rabbi Mitelman, for taking the time to chronicle your Jeopardy! experience so thoroughly – I absolutely loved reading it!

EXCLUSIVE interview with game show creator – and co-host – Brian Nankervis – Part III

101520_home_heroAs my chat with RocKwiz co-creator Brian Nankervis concludes this week, we look to the future…

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SH: Do you have any ambitions to create any more game shows? 

BN: I am very aware that I am doing something that I love. Music is sort of my first love, really. As for others I would like to do… I often thought I would like to do a kids’ quiz show. We have toyed with “why not do a PoliticsWiz or FilmWiz but it hasn’t happened because I have been so flat out doing this. 

SH: It’s all-consuming.

BN: The other thing that we have tried – and sadly not succeeded at – is to sell the format. We nearly did it, we got close for a while there, there was an American company who were talking about Jack Black doing my role and Joan Jett doing Julia’s role. We were going to go to New York and make a show at the Bowery Ballroom that they would watch and we would do the Friday night and then on the Saturday night they would do it. It just fell over. And I had a meeting in London with Fremantle, and they all like it and I would have thought England would translate well because they have a sort of pop quiz culture plus can you imagine the pool of artistes you can draw from… and a pool of contestants! We have had  lots of internationals; Billy Bragg, Steve  Earle, Judy Collins, Martha Wainwright… they all come on the show and they go “Oh my god, this is such fun!” Steve Earle, we have footage of him backstage at Bluesfest saying, “there is nothing like this in America, this would be incredible.” I don’t know why. 

SH: The informality of it, perhaps? 

BN: Maybe it is because we like it to be rough. I remember the night that J Mascis was on. J was in the middle of what was a very long story. Julia said “if you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?” And he said, “I often thought about writing a travel book about Norway.” It was bizarre and he took a long time getting around to it, but it was quite interesting. Half way through, the guy next to him decided that he could not stay on the set or he was going to wet his pants. So he got up and walked across the camera, the whole room stopped, Julia looked and then she just looked back at J, who hadn’t noticed, and was talking about the finer points of Norwegian cuisine. And we left it in. We left all that stuff in, because it’s funny and it’s real and I think people love it. 

SH: According to my research, you’ve presided over 170 episodes of the show – what contestant highlights and lowlights brings to mind?

BN: There’s been many, if you think about 170 times 6 is roughly a thousand or so contestants. I do remember a woman who came out and Julia said “what was the first record you ever bought?” and she said “a Tina Arena album”. There was just a little ripple throughout the production crew because we knew that about 4 feet or 5 feet from this woman was Tina Arena, about to come on. So Julia pushed her a little and said “Oh really? You really love Tina?” She said “in fact I got my PhD, I wrote a thesis on that album.” Julia is going “That is interesting, you really love Tina, don’t you? Let’s start. Who can it be now?” You could see this woman going “oh my god, this is my hero”. Sure enough… Tina Arena! Tina hadn’t heard, she didn’t know all of this preamble. It was just fantastic. That was great.

I do remember a guy we had on who was so excited to be on and I always warn them, I always say “look, get three or four in a row right but don’t dominate, don’t take over”. It was possibly because of this guy, he dominated to the point where the crowd turned against him. He just didn’t realise, because he was so in the moment and he just couldn’t help himself and it was horrible and he finally twigged and you can see he just had this heartbroken look on his face.

SH: Did he pull back when he realised?

BN: Yes, but it was too late. They were booing him. You could just feel it, the whole room temperature changed so I always make a big point of “just don’t take over”. There’s been a few.

SH: From your perspective, having seen as many shows and as many contestants as you have, what tips or hints would you have for anyone wanting to be a contestant on RocKwiz… or any game show?

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“You CAN do it… because you’ve already done it.” Or ‘Sisyphus v 2.0’

Sisyphus – a King in Greek mythology, doomed by Zeus to repeatedly roll a boulder up a hill, for all of eternity. According to the story, at the end of each day, Sisyphus succeeds in rolling the boulder to the top of the hill, only to watch it roll back down to its starting point, forcing him to roll it up to the top again. And so on, and so on, and so on… This myth is often used as a symbol for any futile, repetitive action. In fact, the word Sisyphean is used to refer to “a task that’s endless and unavailing.”

Bummer.

I’d like to encourage poor old Sisyphus to look on the bright side, though. Think about it; after all the times he’s rolled that boulder up the hill, he must be really, really good at rolling a boulder up a hill. In fact, if “practice makes perfect”, there’d be no one better at uphill-boulder-rolling in the entire world than Sisyphus. Now, while there’s no denying that Sisyphus’s situation is pretty frickin’ dire, at least he can take comfort in the fact that each morning when he wakes up, he’s going to be able to do what he has to do, and he’s going to be able to do it really well. He’s done it before. Heaps of times, in his case.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s post: “You can do it… because you’ve already done it.” This is a really powerful thought. And it’s a thought worth memorising and locking away, because when you revisit it at the right time, and remind yourself of it, it can give you a real boost. A case in point….

Three days ago, I went for the biggest audition of my life*.

It was for the lead role in a big new play, that’s adapted from some very well-loved original source material. I’ve never been better prepared for an audition. I learned the lines and did every bit of homework and research I could on the source material – even looking up a couple of unfamiliar words. I wanted to know the source material inside out. I recorded my lines, made them into a playlist for my iPod, and played them back to myself repeatedly, when driving, walking the dog, or just doing jobs around the house. My initial audition was on Monday. I did well enough to get through to the second round, and auditioned again on Tuesday. I did well enough in that audition to get through to the third and final round, which was on Saturday.

I did a lot of self-talk during the whole process. And one of the things I kept telling myself, like a mantra, was “you can do it, because you’ve already done it“. I had got through the first audition, I had got through the second audition – I just had to keep doing what I had been doing, and I’d be okay. It was largely a matter of doing the same thing and tweaking it.

Saturday’s final audition was a marathon – from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, performing scene after scene, interspersed with long stretches of waiting in a theatre foyer and trying not to get too chatty with the 6 other actors who were going for the role I so desperately want. They were my competition. I didn’t socialise with them. I wrote notes in my notebook, I put my iPod on, and just kept myself to myself. I didn’t want to buy into any conversations, potential mind games, or give too much of myself away.

Having said that, from time to time I did try to listen to their conversations, to see what pieces of intel I could pick up about the day’s proceedings, about how well they thought they went, and any other useful nuggets of information. In this way, I discovered:

  • The day of auditions I was attending was the one and only day of final auditions. (This was good news, as I had previously understood that there were 2 days of final auditions, and this was the second one. This would have meant there’d have been twice as many people going for “my” role.)
  • One of my competitors didn’t bother to learn the lines of the 3 additional scenes they’d sent us 2 days before the audition.
  • That same competitor said during his auditions, he saw the big boss doing a crossword. (This was good news for me, as I had the big boss’s full attention during my auditions)

“Well, that’s all well and good and fine and dandy, Stephen”, I hear you say, “but how does all this relate to game shows and game show strategy? Hmm?”

Well, much like a game show, last Saturday’s audition was a competitive situation. I had opponents. And I had to share a waiting room with them for quite some time. I had to wait, to manage my energy levels. When called upon, I had to bring my A-Game, I had to perform in short bursts in a high-pressure, competitive situation. And I had to do it repeatedly, between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM.

So some of my own game show training came in handy. I approached it as I approached my run on Temptation. Although they gave us an hour-long break for lunch, I had brought a couple of muesli bars in my bag, just to help with blood sugar levels. At about 11:00 in the morning, I saw one actor – who hadn’t been called in to audition yet – duck out of the foyer to go and get something to eat; he was “starving”. One minute after he left the building – you guessed it – he was called in to audition. He wasn’t there, so they bumped his audition time back to later in the day. More stress, more suspense for him. And completely avoidable, if he’d just packed some snacks beforehand.

If you’ve auditioned for a game show and got through that initial interview, and you’re about to appear on the game show for real, “You can do it… because you’ve already done it”. If you’re on the game show, and you’ve won your first episode, and you’re about to play your second episode, “You can do it… because you’ve already done it”Or your third episode, “You can do it… because you’ve already done it”Or your fourth episode, “You can do it… because you’ve already done it”. Or your fifth, “You can do it… because you’ve already done it”.

This mantra was exactly what I told myself each time I stepped up to the plate during my 7 night winning streak on Temptation.

This mantra is what I tell myself now, as I tweak and revamp my iPhone app Step-By-Step-Story, for a Version 2.0.

On game shows just as in life, once you’ve actually got the ball rolling from a dead stop, you’ve already done the hardest part. Once you’ve got some momentum happening, a large amount of the work is already done. I think we need to remind ourselves of that sometimes. We are all capable of achieving truly great things – and once you’ve taken that all-important first step, you’re on your way. So take that step!

* At the time of writing, I haven’t heard back as to whether I got the part or not. In case you’re curious, I’ll let you know what the audition was for when the results have been announced. 

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Next week, I’m very pleased to present the first part of my first ever interview with a real live game show creator! I was excited to get a chance to talk to this person, since I’ve never interviewed someone who actually invented a game show before! “But which game show is it?” I hear you cry, “and who is this game show creator of which you speak?”, I hear you ask, in an unnecessarily formal fashion. All will be revealed next week. Just as my eBook How To Win Game shows (still available at the special price of $19.99 AU) will be revealed** if you click this link. See you next Tuesday!  

** This has been the latest in my series of ludicrously tangential eBook plugs at the end of my weekly post. Thank you.

 

EXCLUSIVE interview with star of ‘The Chase: Australia’ – Matt Parkinson! Part VI

The Chase Australia 2

Chaser ‘Goliath’ (AKA Matt Parkinson) from ‘The Chase: Australia’

In this, the penultimate instalment of my chat with ‘Chaser’ Matt Parkinson, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask him straight out….

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SH: Do you have any tips for anyone considering going on The Chaser as a contestant?

MP: I’ll tell you what; I’ve got some tips for anybody who is considering going on any television show. One thing is to bear in mind that they will get you to sign a contract on the day you go in to play. Now you need to read that contract very carefully because – I don’t know if this is the case with the show I’m on now, but I do know for shows I’ve worked on previously – if your show doesn’t go to air, you won’t get your prize money. That’s a pretty standard thing. I know there have been cases in the past where other people took it to court when they didn’t get their money and the show didn’t go to air.

You need to focus not just on getting as many of your questions right as you can, but you need to make sure that there is something about your show that makes them want to put it to air. So in other words, it comes down to three words; Don’t Be Boring.

If you can only answer questions effectively in a kind of deadpan, stone-faced, icy state, your show is probably going to get pushed back in the schedule… and they might not want to put it on at all. You might be waiting for your money a long time. Whereas if you are a bit lively and there’s a bit of personality about you while you are answering the questions, feeling registers on your face and you are prepared to play a little bit with the host, then it is more likely that your show will go to air and it will go to air soon. So that was my main tip. Remember that you are making TV. You are not just answering the next question, you are making TV. Having said that, beyond that, your strategy shouldn’t be any more complex than ‘just get the next the question right’.

I know there’s a lot of other people try and play – particularly with The Chase, there is room for a bit of strategy, people would say – but I think your strategy on any show like that just comes down to: “you got that one wrong, forget about it”. If you got one wrong, and it’s the sort of show where you get to play more than one show… when you go home, later, don’t worry; you’ll remember all the ones you got wrong. You can sit down and go over them and revise that area. So don’t carry it with you as you go on to the next question. Just forget about it, focus on the next question and get that right.

SH: I remember you giving me similar advice – because I asked your advice when I was about to go on Temptation in 2005. And I remember that particular piece of advice that you gave me and that became a real mantra of mine when I went on there, which was always if I got it wrong, in the back of my mind, I said to myself

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How I became “Australia’s Brainiest Quiz Master” – Part IV – The CLIMAX!

Australia's Brainiest with trophy - Copy

SPOILER ALERT: I won.

So it’s all come down to thisBut first:

THE STORY SO FAR (which you could also easily catch up on by watching the actual show, over at the How To Win Game Shows Facebook page)…

I’ve managed to get through the final round, where there are just three of us competing; William Laing (Sale of the Century champ and $500,000 winner on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), Rob “The Coach” Fulton (Australia’s first Who Wants To Be A Millionaire millionaire)… and me.

In this final round, we have each answered five questions, and we are tied on 6 points. We have entered a tie-breaker situation.

William’s turn is next, and he chooses another general knowledge question. Then I notice that only two of his five special subject questions have been chosen so far – has he forgotten where they all are? He gets the general knowledge question correct, and is now on 7 points. Then Rob gets a general knowledge question, and also gets it right. So after that bonus round of tie breaker questions, William and Rob are tied on 7, so a clear winner cannot be declared.

Another bonus tie breaker round begins with my turn, and this time I finally pick my one remaining special subject question, worth 2 points … At last!

And the question is:

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How I became “Australia’s Brainiest Quiz Master” – Part III

ABQ logoTHE STORY SO FAR (which you could also easily catch up on by watching the actual show, over at the How To Win Game Shows Facebook page)…

It was February, 2006. I was appearing as a contestant on a one-off special called Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster. The show brought together 9 quiz show winners – Grand Champions from Sale of the Century, Temptation and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and  was hosted by the glamorous and lovely newsreader Sandra Sully.

Sandra Sully, on the 'Australia's Brainiest' set.

Sandra Sully, on the ‘Australia’s Brainiest’ set.

So far, I had just avoided getting eliminated at the end of Round 1 – when three of the nine contestants fell by the wayside, and had just scraped through at the end of Round 2, where another three contestants said goodbye. In Round 3, I faced off against William Laing and Rob “The Coach” Fulton. In this round, five ‘special subject’ questions for each contestant are hidden somewhere in a board of 36 numbers. My chosen ‘special subject’ was The Original Star Wars trilogy, and my questions (denoted by the red squares) were distributed thus: 

Special Subject board

… And we were only given 10 seconds at the start of the round to memorise their positions. And this is where I came unstuck in this round; trying to remember where on the board my special subject questions were hidden. I’d picked the wrong square on my second try, revealing a general knowledge question, which I then got wrong.

By this time, William was successfully picking squares that had his own questions, and getting them right, as was Rob, and I’m thinking “There’s no way I can win now, but I’ve put in a good showing.”

At this stage, Rob’s on 6 points, William’s on 5 points, and I’m on 4.

On my fourth choice, I do manage to choose one of my own special subject questions… but I get it wrong! The question:

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And, as you can see by my face, I don’t know it. I just don’t know it. All I can think of is the opening line of the title crawl in Episode IV, which is, of course “It is a period of civil war”. And I say as much, and I don’t get the points.*

Then William (deliberately?) steals one of Rob’s questions, and gets it wrong. Then Rob chooses one of his own, and gets it wrong, so scores still see Rob on 6, William on 5 and me on 4.

My turn’s next, and I successfully choose one of my own questions. And I know the answer. And that makes me happy.

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I already knew that Wedge Antilles was played by Denis Lawson, who is Ewan McGregor’s uncle, just because it’s a great piece of Star Wars trivia. But I had also seen it recently, in one of those online quizzes that I used for training, so that just made me doubly sure of it. I answer correctly; 2 points.

So now I’m tied with Rob on 6. Then William (surely accidentally) chooses a general knowledge question from the board, which is only worth 1 point, rather than one of his own special subject questions, which would have been worth 2. However, he answers correctly, and so now all three of us are tied, on 6 points. Then Rob chooses a general knowledge question worth 1 point. And gets it wrong.

So after the end of the fifth question for each of us, we’re all on 6 points.

Which means that it’s now a tiebreaker situation, forcing us to play rounds of additional questions until a clear winner can be declared.

At this crucial point, I miss choosing one of my own questions, and choose the general knowledge question that’s right next to it. And it pains me. The question: ‘What is the world’s third longest river?’ I don’t have a hope, and I guess the Zambezi, and it’s the Yangtse. I’m still on 6 points, but at least I’ve finally worked out / remembered (by incorrectly choosing all the numbers around it) that my final special subject question is actually hiding behind number 20. But I’m sure and certain that my answer to that river question has completely sunk any chances I might have of winning.

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But had Stephen really scuppered any chance he ever may have had of winning this thing? (No.)

Or could he perhaps rally, and edge past his two competitors, to claim the ultimate prize? (Yes.)

To end this unbearable and strangely unconvincing suspense, be sure to check in here next week for the final instalment in this series – How I became “Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster” – Part IV – THE CLIMAX!

And just a quick reminder; the INTRODUCTORY OFFER on ‘How To Win Game Shows: The eBook’ ends THIS COMING SUNDAY! If you buy the book now, you’ll get a special FREE BONUS CHAPTER that won’t be available after then. So get in quick! It’s right here: www.howtowingameshows.com/products 

* For those playing along at home, the answer is “It is a dark time for the Rebellion“.