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

ABQ logoWhen we left the Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster journey last week, I’d just escaped being eliminated at the end of Round 1…

In Round 2 of the Australia’s Brainiest format, each player must choose 2 categories from a board of 12, and then answer 45 seconds of rapid fire questions on those categories. The questions appear on screen as (the host) Sandra Sully asks them, so you can read them before she finishes saying them. The first category I chose was ‘Film’ and I scored 9 points in that 45 seconds. There was one question that I queried; “What was the second James Bond film to be released?”, to which I had answered Dr No (1962), on the grounds that Dr No was the second time the James Bond character had appeared on screen – the first being in a TV play adaptation of Casino Royale in 1954 (which calls the character “Jimmy Bond” and turns him into an American!) But I shouldn’t have second-guessed the question – that version of Casino Royale was not a film, and certainly not an official EON Productions one. Sandra corrected me, and I just looked like a bit of a dill. From Russia With Love (1963) was of course, the second official Bond film. Everybody knows that.

The second category I chose was ‘Music’, and only managed to score 4 points this time. Not good on those classical music questions at all. Around this time, I’m thinking “that’s it. I really won’t survive past the end of this round.” Then Cary Young – who had blitzed the first half of this round, getting 11 questions correct in super fast time – chose the ‘Current Affairs’ category… and scored zero. I was stunned.

I had managed to just squeak through into Round 3, to face off against William (who’d scored a mighty 18 in this round) and Rob (who’d scored 12). My score had been 13. Unlucky for some…

And so Round 3 began, with just three contestants… William, Rob and I had our scores reset to zero, and faced another codebreaker, to determine who would play first. This time, the clue was “a chemical element”, and the combination was 435486.


I think once I had the first 3 letters H-E-L, I knew what it was. In fact, I was fastest here! Perhaps I was more relaxed, as there was no threat of elimination this time. A note here; the keyboards that each contestant had on their podium in the show were not traditional ‘Qwerty’ keyboards; the keys on them were arranged in alphabetical order. This was to eliminate any unfair speed advantage that a touch typist may have over those of us who use the ‘hunt and peck’ method of typing. A great way of levelling the playing field; they really did think of everything over there at Australia’s Brainiest !

Anyway, despite winning ‘Pole Position’ for Round 3, I was certainly not confident. William’s score was all but flawless in Round 2; he really, really knew his stuff, and he was fast. And as for Rob, with his specialty areas… well, he was just a walking encyclopaedia! But William was faster and more aggressive, and I think in the back of my mind, I just assumed that he’d win this. I’d already told myself that I’d done well to get this far, and I was very pleased to make it to the final three.

The special subject I had chosen for Round 3 was the original Star Wars trilogy. And although I do have a head full of that stuff, I did quite a lot of training for it by doing online Star Wars quizzes. (There’s no shortage of them!) And bearing in mind that the show’s question writers would have needed to write 9 sets of special subject questions for this final round, (one for each initial contestant), I thought “that’s quite a workload for them. I wonder if they might be looking to online Star Wars quizzes, too, for question ideas?”

In this round, we’re faced with a board of 36 squares, and each square has a question behind it. Hidden behind 5 of these 36 squares are each player’s own 5 special subject questions (mine were denoted by the red squares; Rob’s were the blue ones and William’s were gold), but we were only given a 10 second glimpse of their location at the start of the round… 

Special Subject board

If a square you pick doesn’t have one of your own special subject questions (worth 2 points) behind it, it’ll have one of your opponents’ questions (worth 3 points, if you steal it and successfully answer it), or a general knowledge question (worth 1 point).

And this is where I came unstuck in this round; trying to remember where on the board my special subject questions were hidden. I picked the wrong square on my second try, and got a general knowledge question, which I then got wrong.


Was this a bad omen? Would I continue to blindly scramble around the board trying to remember where my special subject questions were? Would Rob and William do the same? Would it be an easy win or a down-to-the-wire struggle?

For the answer to these and many more questions, check back here next week! (Or you could just watch the videos, over at the How To Win Game Shows Facebook page.)



How I became “Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster” – Part I

Hello. How are you? That’s the ticket.

Okay, yes, alright – look; I know that the tagline for is “PRACTICAL TIPS FOR WINNING GAME SHOWS, FROM SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT… TWICE!” And I also know that so far, I’ve only really talked in depth about the first of my two game show wins, on Temptation, in 2005.

I GET IT; alright, alright, calm down, everyone… Sheesh!

So today, I present the first of a four-part series on how I became – on the Big People’s Television at least, if not necessarily in real life – “Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster”.

But first, a bit of background for you… Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster was a one-off special that aired in Australia, on the Ten Network, on February 19th, 2006.

Sandra Sully 2

Newsreader Sandra Sully, the host of ‘Australia’s Brainiest Kid’, and all the ‘Australia’s Brainiest’ specials.

It came off the back of Australia’s Brainiest Kid, which was an adaptation of Britain’s Brainiest Kid. The success of that series saw Network Ten keen to keep the ratings coming, and so a series of Australia’s Brainiest specials was commissioned almost instantaneously.

The first three specials were Australia’s Brainiest Comedian (whose winner, Mikey Robins chatted to me for the blog), Australia’s Brainiest TV Star, (whose winner, Julia Zemiro, also kindly gave me an interview), and the one I participated in… Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster. And putting to one side the fact that “Quizmaster” usually refers to the host or compère (i.e. the question-asker, rather than the question-answerer), it really was great fun.

The year was 2005 – after my Temptation win (obviously), but before my appearance on the Temptation Quizmasters special (more of which, in a later post), when I was approached to go on Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster. At that time, I was still riding high, and full of confidence from my Temptation win. I thought “Sure, why not?! I’ve earned it! I’m one of the elite now, Baby – it feels good! Plus… a bit of more of the spotlight? A self-aggrandising TV appearance? You bet – why wouldn’t I?!”

It was only when I got into the studio on Record Day, and saw the competition, including the one and only Cary Young – The Man Who I had grown up watching win Sale Of The Century again and again and again; The Man Who’d won more Sale Of The Century ‘Champion of Champions’ tournaments than I could count; The Man Who’d been writing quizzes for newspapers for years; The Man Who I saw as nothing less than INVINCIBLE…

… that I started to feel a whole lot less sure of myself.

My eight opponents (the Australia’s Brainiest format started with nine contestants, who were eventually whittled down to three) were formidable quizzers indeed. They comprised:

– Temptation champion Brigid O’Connor,

– The two Who Wants To Be A Millionaire millionaires – Martin Flood and Rob “The Coach” Fulton, and the first man to win the $500,000 on WWTBAM, Trevor Sauer.

– And Sale Of The Century champions William Laing, Maria McCabe, Virginia Noel (who would also go on to win Series 3 of The Einstein Factor the next year), and the man himself… Cary Young.

As I fronted up to the first round, I wondered if I’d bitten off more than I could chew. How long would I manage to last? Would I be one of the first players eliminated? A cold, creeping thought that in my arrogance, I hadn’t considered before, was only just starting to hit me now…

This could be embarrassing. Very publicly embarrassing.

Very embarrassing indeed.

The first round was multiple choice, and I did not nail it. At all.

Four clear winners advanced to Round 2, and we three also-rans, who didn’t do quite so well (William Laing, Virginia Noel & I) had to play for the two remaining places in Round 2, with a fast round of “Matching Pairs”. In this example, we had to match four capital cities with their corresponding countries, as quickly as possible.

Capital cities

Fighting off instant panic as they all appeared before me, I went with the ones I knew first; Sofia belongs to Bulgaria, Budapest belongs to Hungary, Warsaw belongs to Poland and therefore Bucharest had to be the capital of Romania. I would not have been sure about Bucharest… but starting with the Familiar and working down to the Unfamiliar paid off (luckily there were only 4 pairs). Somehow I’d kept my head, and matched the pairs ever so slightly faster than Virginia. I was through to Round 2.

And then there were six…

Round 1 had seen the elimination of Brigid, Maria and Virginia, leaving just we six male contestants. To determine who would play first in Round 2, we played a codebreaker game. Using a phone style keypad, the task was to decode the name of a famous painter. The clue was “33427”;

ABQ Codebreaker

Continue reading

‘How To Win Game Shows’ the eBook: UPDATE!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the scheduled launch day for How To Win Game Shows  – the eBook! 

Only thing is, it’s not quite ready yet.


All the content is done, but I’m afraid I’ve underestimated the time that editing, proofreading and getting an eStore up and running would take. So, I know I did say that it’d be ready to go by today, but if you can bear with me for one more week, I’d really appreciate it. That makes the revised launch date Sunday September 20th. I’d like to thank you so much for your patience and understanding. As a little taste of what it’ll look like, here’s the eBook’s cover:

The eBook's front cover!

The eBook’s front cover!

In the meantime, it’ll be business as usual here at the blog, with my next weekly post due on Tuesday. That will chronicle the first part of my Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster journey – this was the show in early 2006 that pitted Who Wants To Be A Millionaire winners against Sale of the Century and Temptation winners, in a battle to win the $20,000 for charity, and the title of ‘Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster’. I did manage to win it, but it certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing. The story of how I accomplished it begins right here on Tuesday, and hopefully there’ll be some tips and hints in there that will be helpful to you, as you learn from my mistakes.

Until then, thank you so much for your patience, and remember, you can still get a FREE SNEAK PREVIEW BONUS CHAPTER of the eBook by signing up to the How To Win Game Shows mailing list, by using the handy (if slightly squashed) email sign up box to the right! ——————————————————————————————————->

My interview with Australia’s first ‘Millionaire’ millionaire – Rob “The Coach” Fulton! Part I

Rob Fulton wins ONE MILLION DOLLARSI recently tweeted about this article in the Australian media, which caught up with Australia’s first Who Wants To Be A Millionaire millionaire, Rob “The Coach” Fulton, 10 years after his historic win. Coincidentally, just a few weeks ago, Rob had granted me an interview for, so this seemed like as good a time as any to post it here on the site. Rob was very generous with his time and thoughts, giving loads of really useful tips and hints. I’ve split the interview into three parts, and Part Two will be up here next Tuesday. But right now, please enjoy Part One of my chat with Rob “The Coach” Fulton!


SH: Rob, thanks so much for talking to me today for
By way of background, what was your life like before going on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in 2005?

RF: Life was pretty simple for me back then – reasonably good job, but reasonably sad life. Lacking motivation and direction, probably suffering from depression. Living off my credit card (was this supposed to be a “light” interview?). Ha-ha, probably going through some mid-life crisis, I guess.

SH: Had you watched the show from its beginning?

RF: Yeah, I had always tuned in on Monday nights, but my real passion was Sale of the Century. I’d applied for Sale but the show ended its run before I got a call up. Only just making the cut in the auditions, I became acutely aware of how lacking in general knowledge I was. Hence, I set forth on a regime of study.

SH: What made you decide to go on it?

RF: Ha-ha, poverty (mostly). Well all that study that I undertook for Sale must have sunk in because I was starting to answer some of the $125K – $250K questions on WWTBAM with not too much trouble. So I thought that it might be worth my while to maybe start applying (in 2000-2001).

SH: What preparation or training did you do for your appearance on it?

Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE interview with game show host and Australia’s Brainiest TV Star Julia Zemiro – Part V


In 2011, Julia was the celebrity team member on the ‘Generation  X’ team of Talkin’ Bout Your Generation. This was a popular Australian light entertainment celebrity game show, and Julia appeared in the first episode of its third series. TBYG was a panel show with three 2-person teams representing the Baby Boomers, Gen Y and Gen X, and they had to play all sorts of games pertaining to those generations but also more parlour games, silly games and physical stunts and things.


SH: Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation. This is a show (and again, in the interest of disclosure, I should point out that I worked on that show, writing for it) that ran for 4 seasons.  And at the end of each show there was usually a big set-piece, where you had to jump through a lot of hoops – which were not always metaphorical, sometimes they were literal hoops! Julia, how did you find preparing for that? Was everything in it a total surprise to you? Because I wasn’t privy to how much the players are worded up beforehand…

JZ: I was so looking forward to it because I was a big fan of the show. I loved every single minute of it until the final set-piece when you are genuinely not told what you are doing. It was the first show back of the series, so I think they wanted to kick it off with a bang. Basically they dressed us up in army fatigues with hard hats – real hard hats from 1917. They were so heavy, but the microphones were in them so you had to wear them. And we went out and it was the full-on obstacle course in the car park that involved crawling through mud, going through very claustrophobic tunnels and then explosions at the end.

Now I’d had some medical procedures done, I won’t tell you what they were but they were a bit delicate. They didn’t know that, and I didn’t think I had to tell them that, because I didn’t think it would be that physical. I mean, as you say, sometimes they would just paint people; sometimes they would put smocks on them and do something, but I’d never seen anything that physical before.

Then I found out that they did tell one of the other contestants, Liesel Jones, who was a swimmer, obviously because it’s her career but I felt like saying “but she’s fitter than me! You should be telling me – who’s not fit – to get ready for that kind of thing”. That was a real surprise to me, that’s not what I expected. You don’t know if I am going through something, I am in my forties… I think you should warn people about that. But afterwards Shaun (Micallef, the show’s host) heard about it and said “I’m sorry about that” and that was quite good and then the producer – to give her her due – rang my agent first thing the next morning, and then my agent rang me and said “they’ve taken responsibility, they’ve been terrific. And is everything fine?” I said “well, if in the next two days my neck doesn’t hurt, my back doesn’t hurt, sure”. But this notion that you’ll do anything because the camera is on got me a little bit cross. I just wasn’t very confident doing it. I guess physically I mightn’t have as much bravado I might do mentally or something.

SH: When they are asking extreme things of you it would be helpful I think to know a bit about it. Of course, on the other side of the coin, they want to see people in at the deep end, and freaking out, and all that stuff…

JZ: We would have been freaking out anyway! That is my point.

SH: True.

JZ: We would have been still having to go through a very claustrophobic… I mean, I ran around one at one point. I said, “I’m not doing that. I can’t.” I find it strange that when you go and sign up for any other TV show you have to do a full medical and you have to fill out all these forms to say what you’ve got, any pre-existing conditions… Then all of a sudden they go “do this obstacle course!” Now, if someone had really hurt themselves, I’d love to see what the outcome of that would have been.

SH: I wouldn’t.

JZ: Right. (LAUGHS)

Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE interview with game show host and Australia’s Brainiest TV Star Julia Zemiro – Part IV

Julia Zemiro & Dave Gleeson on 'It Takes Two' (2006)

Julia Zemiro & Dave Gleeson on ‘It Takes Two’ (2007)

This week, Julia talks about her first foray into reality TV. The year after she was crowned Australia’s Brainiest TV Star, her next appearance in a TV contest was a more prolonged involvement, which ended up taking her well outside her comfort zone….


SH: In 2007, you took part in It Takes Two, which – for those who don’t know – was sort of a singing competition coming off the back of Dancing With The Stars, where one professional singer takes a non-professional singer (who’s a celebrity) under their wing and the duets play off against each other – live! – each week. You were partnered with Dave Gleeson from The Screaming Jets. Why did you decide to do that?

JZ: Honestly, I did it because I was doing a radio show with Jono Coleman in the afternoons and I was really enjoying that because I really loved Jono and we got on really well and I was learning so many skills. If you do radio, you have to talk about your personal life a lot. And I just didn’t want to… so it’s not the job for me, really. If you are going to do that kind of job you’ve gotta know that’s part of it. When the opportunity to do It Takes Two came along I thought “Great, I’ve got something I can talk about” and be involved in, and get people to vote for, and I’ll choose my bloody charity properly this time* and to be honest with you, Stephen, I do believe I can sing. So it seemed a good fit! But it wasn’t. (LAUGHS).

Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE interview with game show host and Australia’s Brainiest TV Star Julia Zemiro – Part III

686891_thumbnail_280_MC_Julia_Zemiro_with_Fiona_O_Loughlin_Denise_Scott_and_more_Short_Girly.v1This week, my conversation with Julia moves on to her appearance on Australia’s Brainiest TV Star – a one-off special in 2006 which pitted 9 Australian TV stars against each other in competition for this prestigious title…


SH: I want to talk for a moment about Australias Brainiest TV Star Which you are, officially, ever since 2006, when you went on the show of the same name… and won! When they invited you to do it, what was your first reaction, and why did you say yes?

JZ: The only reason I did it was because we were doing our first series of RocKwiz and I thought “I just want publicity for that show”.

SH: Oh really?

JZ: That’s the only reason I did it. I got the opportunity and let’s be honest; I was by no means a “TV star” at all. And frankly, most of the line-up werent. But I just thought “how hard could it be?” It’ll be fun, and if I just got them to say “Julia Zemiro from SBS’s RocKwiz”, I would be happy with that.

And then by the time you get out there… whats good about that format is that you have your own special area of interest that you will use eventually if you get to the final three, and the thing is to try and choose a topic that no one else can poach, because you can poach other people’s questions. So I chose Shakespeare because I know a bit about it; I toured high schools with the Bell Shakespeare Company and I’ve been in few of them and I thought “well, whats the likelihood of dumb TV stars knowing anything about Shakespeare?”

SH: Thats logical.

JZ: Some of them might be actors and they might know Shakespeare quite well, but that was my logic. Of course, luck plays into it too, because once you are up there, you hope you pick the right questions or you hope you get the section you want or whatever. They were just nerves for some people, so Axle Whitehead (who still gets work, fascinating to me)… There was a question about music and he was a VJ and he got it wrong. It was “who sang Brown Sugar?” and he didnt put The Rolling Stones down. It was extraordinary. So I think people do get nervous and dont buzz in and as people kept getting eliminated I was still hanging in there and thinking “well, this is good!” I got to pick subjects I wanted; ‘Literature’, ‘Food & Wine’ (which I know a lot about, since my dad had a restaurant)… So I got lucky with my categories and I knew the answers, but gee, it was exciting! When I watch it back, I have never been a competitive person in sport, I never really played sports, but Wow! I’m really enjoying getting it right, and I am enjoying the challenge and it was fun. It was really, really, really fun.

And then I get down to the final three and it’s Gary Sweet, Andrew G – even though he’s got a different name now – and me. Andrew G’s special subject was Prince (the musician) and Gary’s was cricket and I thought ‘well, I know nothing about cricket, so I’ll poach a bunch of Andrew G’s questions’. And Andrew’s just completely forgotten why I’m there and that I do a rock music show. When I poached three of his questions he was so shocked, and then you see him say “Oh no! That’s right – you host a music show!” And I thought “Oh man, I’ve got this in the bag,” because I knew the answers and would have known them, even if I hadn’t been on RocKwiz. And the Shakespeare; of course, Gary did know some Shakespeare questions because he is an actor, but Andrew G didn’t.

I got one of my Shakespeare questions wrong at one point, and went ” Oh god, I can’t believe this,” but then by the end, won it! It was just a great feeling to have gone in there just to be able to hear “SBS’s RocKwiz” up there… but then to bloody win it was awesome!

SH: Yes. And you got to give money to a charity. Which charity did you nominate?

Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE interview with game show host and Australia’s Brainiest TV Star Julia Zemiro – Part I

r1177207_15015896This week, I’m delighted to bring you the first part of my interview with the one and only Julia Zemiro! Actor, presenter, game show host, game show contestant, game show winner, and Eurovision broadcast host, Julia’s been a firm favourite on Australian TV screens – and stages – for years. It was fantastic to get a chance to chat to Julia about her many and varied experiences with radio, music, Shakespeare, reality TV… and of course game shows!


SH: Julia Zemiro, woman of many talents! Thank you so much for speaking to me to today for

JZ: I thought it was my duty!

SH: There are so many aspects to your experience with game shows, on both sides of the podium. I’d like to start with your hosting of RockWiz, which is a home-grown music quiz show that’s been running since 2005. On each episode of the show there are 2 contestants…?

JZ: There are 4 real contestants that come from the room, and there are 2 celebrity contestants. A lot of people ask us how we got those contestants. They’re not pre-chosen. We assume that out of the 250 or so people who turn up on a night have a lot of info in them and we do the same thing for our live shows. Basically we hand out 20 cards with about 10 questions on them and we say “if you think you can answer 10 of those questions, come up on stage and try and compete. It will be 24 of you to get to be the final 4 that actually do the show. ” We say “And make sure you can answer those 10 questions, because if you cant, and you get up here, Brian (Nankervis, Julia’s co-host) will embarrass you.

SH: (LAUGHING) Good, good.

JZ: By the time those 24 get up there – and crash and burn maybe under the headlights – 98% of time we get the four strongest people, who have delightful personalities. And 170 shows in, I am still blown away and relieved and delighted that my job is so easy because I just get such material from these people because they have been waiting their whole lives to come on a show like this with this information to impart.

SH: Do you notice anything in common that the good contestants have, other than obviously their knowledge? Are there any other traits that you can point to that make a good contestant on RockWiz?

Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE Interview With ‘Million Dollar Minute’ Champ Alex Dusek – Part VIII – the final instalment

mdm_630x354_19lbghg-19lbghoThis week, I wind up my chat with 26-year-old Alex Dusek, winner of $307,000 on the Australian quiz show Million Dollar Minute. And we’ll jump right into this final instalment with some very handy tips and hints that you (hopefully) really want to know….


SH: What would be the three most important things you’d say to anyone who wanted to go on Million Dollar Minute?

AD: Staying focused. I would say from the moment that Simon asks the first question to the moment that the final buzzer sounds, don’t look towards your opponents and don’t engage in any conversation. Not to be too stand-offish, but for your own mental relaxation. I think that is important.

Secondly, I’d say just be yourself, because that is going to show through. If you are yourself, you will naturally relax when you need to.

And thirdly, I would say don’t buzz in earlier than you need to. Only step up your game and reaction time when you are forced to. I have seen a lot of good players continue to play at higher and higher levels and shoot themselves in the foot, so to speak.

SH: That’s interesting. So they are trying to beat themselves, or just trying to freeze the other person out?

AD: Yes, both those things. Trying to freeze the other person out and control the game too much. At the end of the day, there are only so many questions that can be asked, and if you get too many of them wrong, you haven’t got the leeway to come back. I think in your final episode you got something like 10 right out of the 12 you answered. You want to keep that percentage high. If you answer too many wrong – but more to the point, if you buzz in too early – you are putting yourself under unnecessary pressure. If your average buzz time is 4 seconds and you are getting a lot right and building a lead, then things are fine. If you suddenly cut that to 2 seconds, well you’ll be getting a bigger percentage incorrect. If you were building a lead at 4 seconds, don’t alter things of your own volition, do it if the other person changes their game and comes at you.

SH: That was one thing that really happened that I was perversely grateful for in my last episode of Temptation; that’s what my opponent Drew did. Particularly in the last Mad Minute – the Fast Money – he was buzzing in at any cost, in order to lock me out and to get the first crack at the answer. But he overdid it, and buzzed in too early for himself before the answer had come to him, repeatedly and that did him disservice.

AD: Absolutely. That would be the classic example. With Temptation, what were you risking each night in your progression from the first episode the to the seventh episode?

Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE Interview With ‘Million Dollar Minute’ Champ Alex Dusek – Part III


Alex Dusek holding some money which looks almost exactly like some of the money he won on ‘Million Dollar Minute’.

When I left our chat with Alex last week, we’d just started discussing the experience of being in the studio for the actual recording sessions of Million Dollar Minute. I wanted to know a bit more about the nuts and bolts side of things; how the logistics of contestant-wrangling actually work on this show. So I asked him!  


SH: When you are in the studios, in the dressing rooms beforehand, do you mix with the other contestants? Are you all in the same dressing room? Is anyone trying to psyche anyone out?

AD: There is a big holding room where everyone is, and then next to that is the green room where whoever the champ is resides. When you play an episode and then you win, they bring you back to the champ’s room and then immediately there are two new contestants there. At the time I was pretty friendly so I always came to chat to new opponents and kind of be quite congenial. Being more distant and less talkative I realized would be better, that being too friendly and upfront can be detrimental to performance. So I kind of started to do that, and I wouldn’t talk to opponents before the game unless they asked, and if they did I wouldn’t give much away. I was quite distant. It did improve my game, and how contestants mentally appraised me, I imagine.

I was quite competitive about it and I was happy to talk afterwards, but before and during the game was a solo kind of exercise.

SH: How much contact time did you have with your opponents before the game? Was it 15 minutes, was it an hour?

AD: It was probably about 10 minutes. It is still a long time to be in a room with two people and not be doing much.

SH: And “the elephant in the room”, of course. When you were on the show, how did you prepare yourself mentally if you had a number of questions wrong in a row? Did you have any mantras or self-talk that you’d tell yourself, to keep yourself on track?

AD: To answer that I’d have to go back a week in time because the day that I went in and did my first recording wasn’t actually the first day I did an episode. Because I went in for a day where I didn’t get called up, and I stayed in the green room for the whole day playing Uno, watching TV and chatting generally, which was a lot of fun. At the end of that day, there was a woman who was a past champion of 1 vs. 100. She was a dairy farmer from Gippsland and she had all these theories on Hot Seat. She was very insightful as to how the game developed psychologically, and I remember thinking “she knows a lot more about this than I do”. I was just really itching to listen to it. At the end of the day when I was leaving, she said “if you get on next time, I think you’ll do well, when you’re there just remember that there is no one else in the room but you. It’s a three person game but you are there by yourself. (The show’s host) Simon is just trying to throw you a ball and all you have to do is catch that ball. If you drop it don’t worry about it, forget about it and just try and catch the next ball”. I kind of thought about that and that’s what I tried to do a week later. That was a good little mantra. During the games I made a point of not looking left – not looking at the opponents – and just focusing on the questions, focusing on myself and I just told myself that it was a fun game, just trying to do as well as I could.

In addition to that, I was there for two days, a Monday and a Wednesday with a Tuesday in between. On the Tuesday I was set on an early night, but my mate Harry persuaded me a beach session was a good idea being 35 degrees, so we were down at Beaumaris beach and I was lying in the water there, it was really shallow, about 30 centimetres of water. I was lying on my back, looking at the stars. At that stage, I had won 5 episodes and had $80,000 guaranteed, so it was already a fantasy.

I just remember looking up and feeling really peaceful, closing my eyes with my ears under the water level, and on the second day I tried to go back to that happy place of relaxation. That helped me a lotso I’ve got Harry to thank for that.

SH: The gap in between your first bunch of games and your second bunch of games was only one day?

AD: Yes that’s right.

SH: It’s funny you should say about “catching the ball and catching the next one” because coincidentally one of my mantras when I was on Temptation if ever I got a question wrong, or if my opponents got it, I would just say to myself, in the back of mind “I know the next one, I know the next one.” It’s a really good way to stop getting Brain Freeze. Because you see time and again when people get it wrong and they go “Ah! Oh! I got that wrong! Ah! But anyway, anyway… back to it.” And by that time, the next question has been asked and answered. So that thing of just instantly kicking out any doubts and like you said; “Catch the next ball – it’s all for you”. You were consistently good in the Double Points Decider Round, when the real pressure was on. Why do you think that was? Was that all down to your training?

Continue reading