EXCLUSIVE interview with behind-the-scenes game show legend Michael Whyte – Part X: The Conclusion.

Game show legend Mr Michael Whyte!

Game show legend Mr Michael Whyte!

This week, as my epic interview with game show producing Living Legend Michael Whyte comes to a conclusion, we discuss the future of game shows…

and Prize Money! And what the winners can – and/or should – do with it…

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MW: We had a young guy earlier on, (on Sale of The Century) he was a student and he won. I said “what are you going to do?” He said “I am doing my thesis on Bowerbirds and I am now going to spend the rest of my life doing that, because that’s what I want to do. Now I’ve got the money I can do it.” It allowed him to do exactly whatever he wanted. That was what he wanted to do.

SH: It’s always interesting to hear winners who want to use the money to follow a specific dream, rather than “Oh, I’ll just put it on the mortgage”… and they don’t get much more specific than that!

MW: Well on Millionaire Hot Seat, on the bottom of the card that we end up giving to (host) Eddie (McGuire), which says “What would you do if you won lots of money?”… I always say to them “by the end of today we’re making 6 episodes. Some of you are going to win substantial money. It will happen, and it does”. I say “What you’ve got to make sure is that you do the things you said you were going to do. And not hand money out to your friends and all of a sudden start giving to charity and doing all those sorts of things. If you wanted to go to Antarctica, if you wanted to buy that Mustang, this is what you have to do. You have to do that. Because you’ll find if you don’t, it’ll just disappear. If you do all those things, it’ll make you so much happier. It really will. 

SH: Don’t be practical about it. Follow the dream. If you have the chance to follow the dream, follow the dream!

MW: Surely, take some off the mortgage, why not? But at the same time, if you wanted to buy that thing that you always thought “I could never get that” and now you can… then go and get it! Go tomorrow, and get it. Simple as that. 

SH: What do you predict will be the next big trend in game shows? 

MW: I think the ‘question-and-answer’ will still be the same but I think it might get to a very specific situation, almost like a Mastermind situation, where there will be “your subject is this”. And the people sitting there at home are going “how the hell do those people know about this particular thing?” That was the strength of Mastermind and then that diminished because people went “Oh no, I can’t answer that, so I’m not interested”. But it is a bit more reality than it is quiz show. It may be that, who knows? Hopefully they don’t dumb them down. 

SH: But for the time being you’re on Millionaire Hot Seat which has been going on for a number of years now and going very well. How long has Hot Seat been going? 

MW: Well, the traditional format was an evening format, and they wanted a half- hour version to go on at 5:30 in particular. We had done, over the years, a couple of half-hour versions of the old show but it really didn’t work as well. This format was actually done in Denmark. I think they would have the live traditional Millionaire then go to the News and then come back and do this Hot Seat format, because they needed another show. And the set and everything was already there. They did that really as a bit of a filler. Then we saw that and thought “if that’s what you want at 5:30, this is the way to go with it”. We tried out a couple of versions of it and ended up with this, and it’s working really well. 

SH: And long may it continue to do so. I think on that note, we might wrap it up. Michael thank you so much for being so generous with your time and speaking with me today. I really appreciate it – and what a long and varied career in every aspect of game shows and light entertainment and drama! Like you say, you don’t get that today. It’s been really great to talk to you.  

MW: Thanks, Stephen.

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Again, I’d like to thank Michael for being so generous with his time and for sharing so many thoughts and experiences from his epic career. I really enjoyed learning all about the various shows he’s worked on, and all the behind-the-scenes anecdotes, tips and hints… and I hope you did too. 

Next week, something a bit different… some audio content! A little while ago, I was invited onto ABC Radio to talk game shows, along with the host of The Chase: Australia, Andrew O’Keefe. And that interview will be available, in full – as a clickable link, and a downloadable mp3 – right here, next Tuesday!

EXCLUSIVE interview with behind-the-scenes game show legend Michael Whyte – Part IX

Michael Whyte (right) with host Eddie McGuire on the set of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?'

Michael Whyte (right) with host Eddie McGuire on the set of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’

When we left our conversation last week, Michael was giving that all-important, incendiary advice that begins every game show contestant’s journey; Don’t just sit there watching, saying “I’d be good on that show”… Get up off the couch and apply! We then discussed his role in the production, and he mentioned that when he talks to group of contestants who have got through the selection process….

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MW: I say “Hands up who has going on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire as something on their bucket list?” and up go hands… “I always wanted to do it, I am going to have a go at it”. It’s the show where if you know all the answers you can win lots of money. It is also the show where if you guess correctly – pure luck – you can also win a lot of money… and that happens too! That’s not the same on Sale.

SH: No, there are no prizes for guessing there.

MW: No, you have to know the answer. And again, people don’t understand it till they’ve done it, but there’s a lot that goes into it. As I said; hear the question, push the buzzer, get it out of your mouth in a time limit, over and over again. Then add the pressure. Let’s say you did 5 episodes in a day and you came back the next week to do the final 3. Or maybe you started on the Friday episode in the first week so did 1, then you did 5 in the second week’s worth of records – that’s 6 – and then you had to come back another week to do 2 more. That’s 3 weeks it took you to do the whole thing.

SH: That stamina thing is a real issue, and you really have to manage your own doubt and your own energy levels.

MW: Absolutely. Those that win – especially Sale – are the ones that go “I want to win the show. Now, if I win any money, great – but I want to win the show to prove that I can do it, because I think I can do it”. That’s what happened to you. And pretty much that’s what happened to all those people that win that show.

SH: I remember during my run on Temptation – and I don’t know whether you remember this – I wanted to win the show so much that I hardly bought anything in the Gift Shop, and it made the producer a bit miffed. And that’s probably putting it mildly…

MW: Well, I was there during your run and that wasn’t the case. You might’ve had a producer on the floor; I was Executive Producing at that stage. They might have said “Oh, he doesn’t buy anything!” It doesn’t make any difference.

SH: Well, I get their point – in that they wanted closer games and all of that – and having been a producer myself a couple of times, of course you want to make good telly, and you want it to be close… but I wasn’t. And a couple of people had a quiet word saying “come on, buy stuff” and Ed (the host) was half-joking with me, “Come on, you’re so far ahead! Short arms, long pockets” and all of that. But I wasn’t doing anything that wasn’t in the rules, and I just wanted to win convincingly and safely.

MW: No, no, no – that’s fine. That’s not the attraction. I mean, the way the format is set up is simply that the Fame Game question, and the Gift Shops in particular, were designed to level the game out a bit. That’s why, when around came the Gift Shop, if it was a fridge, it was probably the best fridge you could buy. If it was a vacuum cleaner, it was the best you could buy. That’s the point and so if you thought “I need a vacuum cleaner, I will have it!” There’s other people that are going “I am not going to, because I am not going to risk it”.

We had a guy called David Bock. He won the show and he came back a couple of times to play a champion series or something.

SH: I remember Pam Barnes talking about David Bock.

MW: Tony Barber – probably the best quiz host we’ve ever seen – nicknamed him pretty soon; he called him David “spider-in-the-pocket” Bock, and he used it all the time, because David would never buy anything. And when he finally won, part of his prize was a BMW convertible. I said to him, “Have you always wanted a convertible?” And he said “Oh yes.” I said “Are you going to sell it?” He said, “Yes.” “Why are you going to sell it?” “Because my wife needs a…” What do you need? You don’t have any children, it’s just you and your wife. Why don’t you keep it?” And the bottle of champagne that we gave him on that night – you would have got one –

SH: Yes.

MW: – was the first champagne he’d ever tasted.

SH: Really?

MW: Because he always thought champagne was too expensive. I said “make sure you drink it”.

SH: For goodness’ sake, don’t sell it!

MW: He kept the BMW for about 2 months and he was guilt-ridden and he sold it.

SH: Right. That’s his particular personality I guess.

MW: That’s right. He didn’t do it for the money either. The money didn’t really change his life; it just meant that his bank balance was a lot better, and he just carried on with what he was doing.

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And I think there’s a lesson in there that bears repeating…. if you’re on a game show and you feel the producers would like you to adopt a type of game play that you’re not comfortable with… stick to your guns. 

In the lights and stress and atmosphere of being on the set, it’s easy for your decisions to be swayed. If you’ve developed an overall strategy (and it’s within the rules) stick to it. To thine own self be true. Making spur-of-the-moment gameplay decisions that you’re not comfortable with can cost you dearly. Not just in dollars and cents, but in something just as powerful, and far more haunting…

Regret.

And wondering “What Might Have Been….” 

 

‘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.

Gumby

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! ——————————————————————————————————->

It was exactly 10 years ago TODAY…

TV Week - Oct 1st 2005 - Copy

A scanned clipping from ‘TV Week’ magazine in 2005 – the photo was taken on the ‘Temptation’ set, moments after The Big Win.

… when I walked out of the Channel 9 studios in Richmond in a daze, carrying the bunch of flowers and the bottle of champagne you see in the picture above. I had just won $672,357 worth of cash and prizes, including $500,000 worth of gold bullion on Temptation (you can watch the entire 20 minute episode here)… and my knees were feeling a bit shaky. My mum Julie (pictured above), my sister Kate and I went back to Mum’s house that night, got some pizza delivered and sat there drinking champagne, scarcely able to process what had just happened. I remember staring at them and repeatedly saying, in a low, astonished tone, “Bloody Hell! This changes everything”.

And it did.

Before I outline the general, here’s the specific, just in case you were wondering what I did with those prizes I won along the way..

I used Night #1’s prize – the home renovation worth $10,000 – on the kitchen of my home. In Croydon. It was sorely needed.

The prize from Night #2 – the white leather lounge suite – I still have. See?

me on that couch 2

Me and the ‘Temptation’ couch, yesterday.

Night #3’s prize; the $19,000 watch, set with 68 diamonds from Versace? Well, I remember taking it to the Versace branch on Pitt Street in Sydney (feeling extremely nervous about carrying something that valuable – and easy to steal – on my person!) I wanted to ask them about the possibility of exchanging the watch for a ring, which could serve as an engagement ring… I was thinking of proposing to my then girlfriend (now wife) at the time. The nice Versace saleslady advised me against it, as most of the Versace ring designs at that time featured their logo… a Medusa.

Ah. That Medusa? The hideous gorgon with snakes for hair whose appearance was so horrible that it turned men to stone? Yes. Right, so not exactly ideal ‘engagement ring material’, then. So, no exchanging of the watch for a ring. Not feeling especially comfortable with the idea of wearing a $19,000 watch, in the end, I put it up for auction at a Sydney auction house. I got $3,000 for it.

Night #4’s prize: the 13 day holiday in the Canadian Rockies, valued at $35,876, I gave to my mum and sister. They really enjoyed it, and I’m so glad I was able help make that Continue reading

Review of ‘Come On Down! The Game Show Story’ – Part III

COME_ON_DOWN_THE_GAME_SHOW_STORYMy review of last year’s series Come On Down! The Game Show Story concludes today with a look at the fourth and final episode, whose theme was ‘The Evolution Of The Game Show’.

Host Bradley Walsh (from The Chase) spends the first ten minutes or so of the programme on the way the role of women has changed in British game shows over the years. From being seen as merely decorative ornaments, to becoming “spokesmodels”…

 A slightly bizarre illustration of what a game show spokesmodel does.


A slightly bizarre illustration of what a game show spokesmodel does.

… to co-hosting shows, and eventually being allowed to host of game shows all by themselves! (a la Anne Robinson from The Weakest Link).

Then there’s a tribute to – followed by a re-enactment of – one of the great British game shows Treasure Hunt, (1982 – 1989) which saw the intrepid Anneka Rice following the contestants’ instructions by flying all over England in a helicopter, solving puzzles in a race against time to find the Treasure. This show never aired in Australia, and I’m sorry it didn’t – it looked like a genuinely fun, exciting and dramatic concept, particularly for the early 1980s, when it debuted.

The account of this dramatic and potentially dangerous show was followed by a look back at The Golden Shot; a popular long-running show in which blindfolded contestants fired a real crossbow at a target, live in the studio.

I kid you not.

 'The Golden Shot' - loads of wholesome deadly crossbow-related fun for the whole family...


‘The Golden Shot”s host Bob Monkhouse – loads of wholesome, innocent crossbow-related fun for the whole family!

Following on from the high-risk-to-life-and-limb concept of this show was a look at what is perhaps its modern day equivalent; the live action cartoon violence of Wipeout. It’s a creation of the Dutch game show production powerhouse Endemol, who spent 500,000 pounds on the construction of its gigantic obstacle course in Argentina. But this enormous cost has been cleverly amortised by shooting all of the international versions of the show (and the format’s been sold to more than 40 territories so far) all on the one set in Argentina, virtually simultaneously.

The show then offers a tip for surefire game show success (provided you’re a game show host, rather than a game show contestant)… Get yourself a catchphrase, and say it over and over again. Then they go through a few of them (just like this article does).

This leads into a look back at lots of “classic” game show bloopers, and  Bradley introducing an extended celebration of his own struggle not to collapse in laughter at the name of the German athlete Fanny Chmelar. I guess a lot of people are amused by his staggeringly childish schoolboy sniggering. Bradley seems almost proud of it, too.

Not a fan, myself.

Then, after another mock quiz session where Bradley’s grilled by various game show hosts on what he’s learned, there’s some speculation about The Future Of The Game Show, and what The Next Big Thing will be. The offered answers could hardly be described as unpredictable… a “brilliant, simple format”, “something that viewers can play along with at home”, “something that viewers can win – LIVE – at home”.

Yep, sounds good in theory, although it’s not necessarily a recipe for success. I remember the late 90s Australian game show Talking Telephone Numbers, whose imdb page provides just one solitary – yet informative – piece of trivia about the show;

Talking Telephone Numbers was cancelled after three episodes.”

So, to get back to the purpose of this post, would I recommend Come On Down! The Game Show Story? Sure, if you’re interested in game shows, (and I’m tipping you are, or  you wouldn’t be here). It’s mildly entertaining, but don’t expect to learn loads of insider information that’ll help you become a game show champion. Of course, it never hurts to know your subject, and this show provides a pleasant primer for the history and variety of game shows that have entertained Britain for the last few decades.

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….

Alex2===========================

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 VI

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Alex wins the $300,000 on 'Million Dollar Minute'!

Alex wins the $300,000 on ‘Million Dollar Minute’!

Hey!

26-year-old film student Alex Dusek has just won $307,000 on Million Dollar Minute !

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SH: Everyone asks you how you felt at the moment of your Big Win. What I want to know is; how did you feel when you woke up the next day? Other than hungover perhaps; I don’t know.

AD: (LAUGHS) It’s that thing of winning money but only you know about it and you can’t really tell anybody. I told my family because I was living at home at the time and I didn’t want to have to keep a secret and I would have told them anyway. You can’t tell everyone straight away. It’s all inside. I don’t think it felt real for a good two months after the show.

SH: Wasn’t there a studio audience in the show, didn’t your family come?

AD: I saw in your final Temptation episode there was a studio audience and your mum and sister were there. This show had no studio audience and no family contingent watching.

SH: Really? But there’s applause! How did they do that! Family and friends aren’t allowed to come along anyway?

AD: I think at the very top levels that might happen. But the next day, what would have happened was I would have had a deep sleep and just woken up and gone to Uni and it would just have felt like a very strange dream. It all happened so quickly, you film five episodes in a day, as you would have done as well. It feels like a blur. Did it feel like a blur to you?

SH: Yes, it is just abstract. I feels like you’ve gone and played this fun game, and it’s very exciting and it is so abstract. I do remember waking up the next few days and going online and looking at stuff and going “I can buy that! I can buy that as well!” Of course, we had to keep it secret for another two or three weeks, between the recording and the airing. My girlfriend at the time – now my wife – is not very good at keeping secrets. I was really worried because you sign all these things and if you reveal stuff they can take it all away from you… but it turned out okay.

AD: That would have been stressful.

SH: How much publicity was there about your win, and how did you handle it?

AD: There was a fair bit. I think the champs on the show tended to be in their mid-thirties; that seems to be kind of peak age for champs or older. Only being 26 and a student there was quite a lot of novelty to that and there was value in me publicity-wise. I felt quite good with it. I think when you are talking to a crowd, when you are talking to say (Million Dollar Minute host) Simon, where there is an intended audience, it is inherently artificial, to a degree. It isn’t a real exchange of ideas. I felt like I was kind of being an alter ego and that felt natural and easy. I think it is harder being yourself in a one-on-one situation.

SH: You’re playing a role, I guess.

AD: Absolutely.

SH: I have to say, just watching it you are a great champ. You’re very good telly.

AD: Oh thanks, Stephen.

SH: You are happy and enthusiastic and humble and not nervous or tongue-tied. You come across as really genuine and enthusiastic – they would have loved you.

AD: I have to say that while being a fast player is most important, being enthusiastic is the next best trait. On the show so many times I have seen big champs who win big amounts, and it looks like they are already thinking about what Simon is going to ask them. They don’t jump around or they don’t get too excited. They do run a lot of ads for Million Dollar Minute and I’ve been lucky enough to still feature in them even though I am not the largest winner and there have been plenty of excellent champs since me. I think it’s because I was super enthusiastic and it meant so much to me that it comes across… Like when I won one of the amounts, I kind of got down and punched the floor.

SH: That’s right.

AD: I think that is important, to let go of yourself and give in to your emotions. I am really glad that I had that reaction.

SH: I remember jumping up and down, like literally jumping up and down. It wasn’t put on or anything. I was genuinely so excited. It was amazing but you often see people who are just too reserved or trying to be cool or just awkward and uncomfortable. You just seem pretty relaxed and happy and enthusiastic. That’s the best way to be a winning contestant, I reckon.

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Now, that may seem a bit ‘easier said than done’ for some people, what with all the pressure of performing on national television, in that combative studio environment. But if there is any way you can relax and enjoy it – via mental exercises, breathing exercises, whatever works for you – not only will it tick the box of making you a more entertaining champ… it should also mean that you’re more relaxed and able to perform better in the actual game.

In theory, anyway…

In next week’s penultimate instalment of this interview, Alex and I chat about all the Big Issues: Money, Art, Ambition, and The Expendables 3.

All that and more next week, here at www.howtowingameshows.com!

EXCLUSIVE interview with Quiz Show Champion Russell Cheek – Part V

MG_1836Well, Russell had done it! He’d won 8 consecutive games on Sale Of The Century. They were recorded over three recording sessions (and included an agonising WEEK LONG WAIT between the 7th and 8th shows!)

He was now officially a Grand Champion on “Australia’s Richest Quiz”. I asked him about the aftermath of such a public victory…

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RC: I found myself being the suburb hero. It’s surprising how many people used to watch that show, because wherever I would go in Bondi, or Bondi Junction, or along the Eastern suburbs – Clovelly, Bronte – people would go past and they’d beep their horn and they’d yell out “Oh, Russell you won, you won!” And I’d walk into restaurants and people would give me a round of applause. (LAUGHING) It was full of goodwill and very good- natured, and it just gave me a really good feeling because I felt like I had really achieved something. I had really dug deep like, I said before. It was a combination of all those things I said in my life. The fact that I had done yoga for many years, I was a swimmer, then I had done a lot performing and being very public in my performance life, that I’d always had a very good general knowledge, being academically good in school and in uni. I had accumulated a lot of knowledge and I always had a thirst for knowledge as well. Ever since I was a little boy. All those things kind of accumulated into this moment of winning Sale Of The Century.

It was a lifetime of experience that got me to that point, and I had had to dig very deep on that show. It’s funny because even watching Million Dollar Minute now, you can see even the very good people after a few nights you start to see that they can feel some of that pressure. There are people on that show who I think have been incredible champions, and I put them way ahead of me – not just the stuff they know but how fast they are on the buzzer – and yet they’ll leave the show after winning 200 grand, and I would have been convinced they would go on and try to get the million. They’re starting to feel the pressure as the stakes get higher. I think perhaps with people like yourself and me – who have been around the traps a little bit in performing – that maybe we can just eventually handle that pressure a little better. I don’t know that for sure, but maybe that’s the case.

SH: When I spoke to Ed Phillips, who was the host of Temptation, I asked him about this. And he said that when they had Celebrity Specials of Temptation, the comedians and the professional sportspeople tended to do well, because the comedians were comfortable in front of the camera, comfortable in front of an audience, and the professional sportspeople were comfortable in public competitive situations.

RC: Yes. Now that’s very interesting. It would be interesting to see how those comedians and sportspeople went if they were going up the ladder playing for genuine money. Because on Million Dollar Minute they had three Melbourne radio announcers on. None of them who I knew, but they came on the show and they had very sharp minds. Maybe they’d tailored some of the questions towards Melbourne culture and AFL questions and things like that, but they performed incredibly well.

But the same question would still apply. If they were playing for real money, for themselves, where the stakes were higher… I still think that sort of pressure eventually affects everybody. You know?

SH: What did you do with your winnings?

RC: I bought my apartment in Bondi Beach!

SH: Very good!

RC: Yeah, I still live here

SH: In addition to the cash, what was in the showcase that you won?

RC: My beautiful Omega Constellation watch.

SH: Do you still wear it?

RC: It is one of my most prized possessions. It’s a $2000 watch. You would never spend money on that for yourself but I picked that up in the Gift Shop, and I love that very much. Of course, the cars. I sold one of the cars but I kept my car for 15 years, my little Nissan Coupe. It’s funny though I still miss that car, you know. It was such a wonderful little car that was part of my identity for 15 years and it served me so well. It was such a reliable, beautiful, nippy around-town car. I enjoyed having that very much. I won some beautiful golf clubs. Behind me I think you can see that drawer, that low boy, those beautiful, traditional, federation mahogany chest of drawers, I won that. As usual on Sale of the Century, I think half of the stuff you won could be magical. It was always nice to have all that stuff for nothing.

Oh, and when I went back on the 21st anniversary of Sale, I won a Mont Blanc fountain pen, that I loved! Once again, it’s a $1000 pen, that you’d never buy for yourself. That got me into a whole field that I love. I only write with fountain pens now. I’ve got a whole collection of different cheaper fountain pens.

SH: Well Russell, you’ve been very generous with your time, thank you very much – that’s great!

RC: Oh it’s a pleasure, it’s a pleasure. It’s good to talk about celebratory things.

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I’d like to thank Russell again for his time and agreeing to be interviewed. It’s always a delight to chat to him; he’s a true embodiment of the epithet “a gentleman and a scholar”. Remember, you can check what Russell’s been up to, or even get in touch with him, at his web page www.russellcheek.com.au

Until next week!

WINNING THE LOT PART IV – Top 8 Tips For Game Show Winners

Tempation winner

The date was August 25th, 2005.

After winning 6 consecutive nights of Temptation (the *journey* of which you can read about in my previous posts here, here and here)… tonight, I’m playing for “THE LOT” – $672,000 in cash and prizes.

The closely-fought contest between me and Drew Devlin – a salesman from Hampton Park in Victoria – is coming to an end. The seconds tick away in the final ‘Fast Money’ round, until host Ed Phillips asks the last question: “Devotion and pride in the group one belongs to is called “Esprit de“… what?” Drew beats me to it, answering correctly (“Corps“) right on the buzzer that signifies the end of the round. But it’s not enough, and I vaguely hear Ed saying “Stephen wins everything! The lot! The works! He’s won it all!”

The next few days and weeks passed by like a dream, and my post today aims to offer you some tips in case you ever find yourself in the wonderful, blissful position of being a Game Show Champ! So here they are;

My Top 8 Tips for Game Show Winners!

1. Keep it under your hat. Your winning episode usually won’t be aired until a couple of weeks after it’s recorded, sometimes longer. You’ll have signed a contract not to disclose the results of any games you’ve recorded before they go to air, and so you are legally bound. In fact, if you do reveal the results, the contract may stipulate that you forfeit your prizes! Despite that, you’ll feel like you want to shout it from the rooftops and tell everyone you meet, but you must exercise self-control. They’ll hear about it soon enough.

2. Before you’ve got your money (usually, you won’t get a cheque until after the winning episode goes to air), enjoy daydreaming about what to spend it on! I remember waking up early some mornings after the win, still too excited to sleep, and going window-shopping online, thinking “I could buy that. I could buy that. Or I could buy that…” How often in your life do you get a chance to do that?

3. Get financial advice. I’d have thought this was obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of big cash winners who don’t do this. I engaged a financial planner very shortly after winning.

4. By the time the money does arrive, you should have researched and found an account which gives a good interest rate, while allowing you access to your money when you need it. Park your prize money here, while you work out what to do with it. On some of those big sums, getting good monthly interest can really make a difference!

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Now THIS is a Happy New Year…

Price-is-Right Sheree HeilYou’ve probably seen this by now, as it went viral pretty much the moment it happened.

On Monday December 30, Price Is Right contestant Sheree Heil won an Audi R8 V8 Spyder Quattro S-Tronic, (which is some type of car, I’m led to believe) valued at $157,000.

It’s the most expensive car the show’s ever given away, and Sheree won it by playing the game Gas Money. The win made her the The Price Is Right‘s biggest daytime winner ever. 

When she did win, she seemed quite pleased; you might be able to spot it if you watch this clip from the 5:46 mark.

Sheree had said that going on The Price Is Right was “on her bucket list”. She even had a T-shirt made that said so, to drive the point home to the show’s producers, (and to help get her selected).

At this time of year, when we’re all reflecting on the last year and making plans for the next one, by way of those dreaded New Year’s resolutions, I think Sheree’s story serves as an inspiration. So if one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to “finally try your luck on a game show”, I’m certain that Sheree’s advice to you would be exactly the same as mine….

GO FOR IT! You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

I’ll keep posting info here about game show auditions and opportunities, and tips and hints that will hopefully be helpful when you do get through, to help those vague dreams and resolutions become reality.

Fortune favours the bold.

Who knows? Perhaps the next game show victory dance viral video will be starring you!

Happy New Year, everyone.

May 2014 be happy, healthy and prosperous for you and yours.