Ryan comes on down to ‘The Price Is Right’!

Hello! I hope you had a great Christmas yesterday, and Happy Boxing Day to you!

We’re hearing again from our guest blogger Ryan Vickers today, and this time he takes us through his experience on a show that’s pretty much an American institution – The Price Is Right.

There are some great tips too, so if you’re harbouring an ambition to ‘Come on Down’, read on….


My Life in Game Shows

Episode 11 – Sick day viewing: ‘The Price is Right’, 2015.

When I was a kid in the 80s, Canadian and American television game shows were a dime a dozen in daytime television. You hoped that if you got sick, your parents would at least let you watch the glitz and glamour of these spectacles. I loved shows such as Scrabble, Blackout, Super Password and $ale of the Century.

Over the years, daytime game shows have for the most part gone the way of the wind. Yes there are syndicated offerings that pay in daytime hours, but the only true ones on network television are The Price is Right (since 1972!) and the current reboot of Let’s Make a Deal (which I’ll get to in the next entry).

The Price is Right is as classic game show as you’re getting to get, from the heyday of game shows of the last century. A smiling host, a jubilant announcer, an audience that clearly has come expecting a rock concert and prizes galore; and it also boils down to a simple premise: guess how much something costs, without going over.

I had been twice previously to Price in the 2000s but it had been a good ten years since my last visit.

PRO TIP: If you’ve auditioned for a show before, try to remember how the last time went. What did they ask? What do you think they were looking for?

Armed with that thought, I made attempt number three at trying to get on the show. I felt I had interacted well with the contestant picker that day and waited to see my fate. But I didn’t just rest on my laurels… I made sure that I interacted with other people while we were waiting in line (not that it took that much effort – I’m a people person!) and made sure my energy was at full capacity when we were ushered into the studio.

PRO TIP: Assume someone’s always watching. That could be in the form of a staff member either behind or in front of the scenes. Give them the best impression and you never know what could happen!

And then I heard those magical words…


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The world of a Game show contestant co-ordinator, with Lalitha Selvendra – Part II

Game show contestant co-ordinator extraordinaire Lalitha Selvendra, with the FremantleMedia Gold Award 2014 for Best Program for 'Family Feud'!

Game show contestant co-ordinator extraordinaire Lalitha Selvendra, with the FremantleMedia Gold Award 2014 for Best Program for ‘Family Feud’!

Last week saw Part I of my interview with game show contestant co-ordinator Lalitha Selvendra. Lalitha is a veteran of many game shows, including The Price is Right, The Singing Bee and Family Feud. She’s interviewed countless potential game show contestants over the course of her career. So if YOU’RE a potential game show contestant, and would like a sneak peek behind the other side of the contestant interview desk, then read on…


SH: Do any examples spring to mind where you knew right away – almost at first sight – that the person was going to be a great contestant?

LS: Too many to narrow down to one. But, if we look at Family Feud, it really is about how a family interacts with each other. Often, we’d see three family members who were really thrilled to be there, and the fourth member who clearly did not want to be there. Sometimes the difficult part was finding four good individuals who, together, make a great team.

SH: And conversely, do any examples come to mind where the would-be contestant made every mistake in the book? And if so, can you talk me through that?

LS: I think more so the people who come along to an audition and admit they’ve never seen the show. Now, for me, this isn’t necessarily an immediate “Bah-bow”, as I like the honesty and we have had people who had just moved back home from overseas etc. However, it certainly does set some alarm bells ringing…

SH: When auditioning or being interviewed for a game show, what are some of the best things a potential contestant can do?

LS: Play along and don’t take it too seriously. Have fun! We know you’re nervous, but nerves aren’t a bad thing. And remember, it’s not the end of the world if you’re not successful in your audition.

SH: When auditioning or being interviewed for a game show, what are some of the worst things a potential contestant can do?

LS: If you come on the show for the wrong reasons, the potential for disappointment is huge if you walk away with nothing. However, if you came on simply to have fun, you’ll have a memorable day no matter what.

SH: I’m guessing you’ve watched a lot of game shows being recorded in your time; do you have any tips or hints on how to win them?

LS: Based on the shows I’ve done, it really is down to luck… and luck can change in the blink of an eye. I think staying positive throughout really helps. If you’re low on points or coming last, the momentum of play could suddenly swing back to you, but you need to be ready for it.

SH: Have you noticed certain things that all the best players do?

LS: They’re prepared. They’ve watched the show, played it at home with their family and friends, played it online. It helps to know the format of the show, even just a little bit. Also, doesn’t hurt to know a little bit about the host.

SH: Which has been your favourite game show to work on?

LS: I can’t pick a favourite child, Stephen! Honestly, I have been so fortunate to have worked with not only some talented and generous hosts but also been a part of shows that have been led by great Executive Producers. I have formed life-long friendships through many of these shows and I am forever grateful for that.


And what a lovely note to finish on! I’d like to thank Lalitha again so much for her time, and to wish her all the best for whatever show she’s working on next. And, in the future, if you should ever happen to be auditioning for a game show, and see her smiling face on the other side of the desk, be sure to mention www.HowToWinGameShows.com!

Not that it’ll necessarily help your chances – I could use the publicity, that’s all.


The world of a game show contestant co-ordinator, with Lalitha Selvendra – Part I

Game show contestant co-ordinator extraordinaire Lalitha Selvendra, with the FremantleMedia Gold Award 2014 for Best Program for 'Family Feud'!

Game show contestant co-ordinator extraordinaire Lalitha Selvendra, with the FremantleMedia Gold Award 2014 for Best Program for ‘Family Feud’!

Hello! Firstly, apologies for there being no regular Tuesday post here last week, but hey, I did warn you…

We’re now coming into the last couple of weeks of rehearsals for Fawlty Towers Live, and so life is pretty hectic at the moment. I’m living, sleeping eating and breathing Basil Fawlty these days, as Opening Night creeps closer and closer. In fact, here’s an interview I did about it recently.

But I digress.

I have managed to score a new interview for HowToWinGameShows.com, and it’s my first ever interview with a real life game show contestant co-ordinator. Lalitha Selvendra has worked on several game shows over the years, she’s interviewed hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of aspiring game show contestants, so I thought her experience and insights would be just the thing for this site!  So, if you’d love to be a game show contestant, but haven’t yet taken the plunge and applied, then read on….

=========================================================================SH: Lalitha, welcome, and thanks very much for talking to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com! Can you take us through your career as a game show contestant coordinator? Which productions have you worked on?

LS: My very first game show was The Price is Right with Larry Emdur. It was such a great production to be a part of, and an even better place to learn. Although it may appear to be a simple game show, the amount of preparation that went into every episode was staggering. It involved a lot of people power and the keys, I think, were communication and passion. Everyone who worked on that show loved working on it and a lot of people still have such fond memories. It was a tight-knit crew, with a wonderful host to boot.

I went from Price onto Bert’s Family Feud; thereby being lucky enough to work alongside TV legend Bert Newton. His professionalism and great sense of humour was great to be around. We had a small team but produced a lot of hours and had a lot of fun doing it.

After this I was Talent Coordinator for two seasons of Celebrity Singing Bee, Again, a really fun show to be a part of and a really generous host in Tim Campbell.

Post-Singing Bee, I worked on a few small pilots and went into kids’ TV before joining the current incarnation of Family Feud as Senior Casting Producer. A massive privilege to be working under television’s very own Pam Barnes as EP and alongside an amazingly talented host in Grant Denyer. Bringing back a beloved format is always dangerous and all the elements needed to work to make it a hit.

SH: How would you define the role of a contestant coordinator?

LS: To define it simply, it’s about finding watchable contestants. If I was at home watching from my lounge room, what kind of contestant would I find entertaining? Would I love them? Would I love to hate them? Would I be barracking for them?

SH: What are you looking for in contestants? What would make the difference between a person getting on the show and not getting on the show?

LS: You get to spend a lot of time with contestants during auditions. So, you can tell if they are genuine or putting on an act. There’s no set list of ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ for people getting on a show. But, one thing I would encourage is, definitely do your homework before you go to an audition. Know what the show is about and how it works etc. We also often like to tell auditionees, “just be yourselves but on a really good day”. Be genuine and have fun. For me, if you’re not in it to have fun, then there’s no point.


And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next week, as my chat with Lalitha concludes, she reveals more great tips, including the Top Two Things you should never ever do at a game show audition. That’s next Tuesday. Until then, keep calm and Don’t Mention The War…

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

How to Win Game Shows’ Greatest Hits!


As we lurch into the cold winter months*, I thought I’d take an opportunity to let you know about (or remind you of) some of the earlier posts here that you may have missed…

You can find links to all of these, and more, on the ‘ABOUT ME’ page, but here are some highlights, and the ways in which you may hopefully find them helpful…

For those wishing to go on Family Feud, all sorts of handy hints can be found in this interview with the show’s former Executive Producer Michael Pope, and in this interview with the show’s current Executive producer Pam Barnes.

If The Price Is Right is what you’ve set your heart on, this incredibly handy list of tips is well with a look, as is this part of the Michael Pope interview, where he speaks about his time behind the scenes on the show.

And for any budding Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestants, I’d recommend this 9-part interview with Millionaire millionaire Martin Flood, which goes into great detail.

If you’d like to hear more from other game show champs who’ve been there and done that, there’s this interview with Million Dollar Minute winner Alex Dusek, this interview with Sale of the Century champ Russell Cheek, my own Temptation experience is outlined here, here, here and here… and of course there’s also my recent interview with David St John, who holds the Guinness World Record for the Most Appearances as a TV Quiz Show Contestant!

And I have more winner interviews lined up in the coming weeks, so remember to keep checking back here each Tuesday.

Over the past couple of years, quite a few game show hosts have generously given their time to be interviewed for the blog. Among them; Peter Berner (the host of The Einstein Factor), Ed Phillips (the host of Temptation), Julia Zemiro, (the host of RocKwiz), and Michael Pope (the host of Blockbusters). Of course, Michael’s a game show producer and Executive Producer too, and he speaks about his experiences on that side of the camera in other parts of our interview.

And finally, if you’ll forgive me for a bit of cross(/self)-promotion, here’s a plug for the iPhone app I created: Step-By-Step-Story.

There’s just a sample of some of the past posts from the site. I hope you find some useful stuff in there. And again, a reminder that you can find them all on the ABOUT ME page, if you scroll down to the bottom.

Next week, I’m going to take an in-depth look at a classic game show conundrum, which is also a logic problem. And it’s one that packs quite a counter-intuitive punch, getting even the most intelligent, rational people acting in the most illogical way…


Until then, Live Long and Prosper.

* Your results may vary, depending on geography.

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

COME_ON_DOWN_THE_GAME_SHOW_STORYSomething a bit different this week: Part One of my review of Come on Down! The Game Show Story, which was a 4-part documentary series shown on British TV in August last year.

Presented by Bradley Walsh (host of ITV’s The Chase), this was a look at the history of the British game show; its formats, hosts, contestants, and the evolution of the genre. It was a diverting – if not overly educational – overall look at the British game show, but to my mind, it didn’t really need four one hour-long episodes. It could have been told just as well, if not better, with two.

Episode 1 focussed on British game show history, with Bradley interviewing one of its major figures, Sir Bruce Forsyth. Sir Bruce, whose game show hosting career spans decades and decades, revealed that in the 1980s he tried to buy the rights to the American game shows Card Sharks and Family Feud. But he quickly discovered that Bob Monkhouse – another evergreen British game show host – had already snapped up the  rights to Family Feud, which was renamed Family Fortunes in the UK. Brucie did manage to get the rights to Card Sharks, though. And re-branded for the UK as Play Your Cards Right, and with Bruce hosting, it was a hit over 16 seasons, from 1980 – 2002.

A recurring theme in British game shows seems to be that many hits were adaptations of successful American formats. Mark Goodson & Bill Todman were the game show format kings, and many UK game show successes were adaptations of American ones. Apart from those mentioned above, prominent examples included What’s My Line?The Match Game (known as Blankety Blank in the UK) and The Price is Right.

This last one caused quite a controversy. In British game show culture, where big cash prizes had never been front and centre, the 1984 launch of the proudly materialistic The Price is Right sparked an enormous backlash. People thought it was undignified, that it glorified greed, and  that it could even lead to an increase in the crime rate!

The theme of UK adaptations of successful American formats continues, with Bradley paying a visit to – and appearing on an episode of – Celebrity Squares. This adaptation of the classic Hollywood Squares has enjoyed success in the UK in several incarnations since 1975, and the latest version is hosted by Warwick Davis.

Which I did not know.

But now I do.

This is followed by an interview with one of the new breed of game show hosts, Vernon Kay, current host of Family Fortunes. Kay tells the story of getting the gig, and receiving a phone call from the show’s previous long-serving host Les Dennis, (host from 1987 – 2002) wishing him luck in the role. It turned out that Les Dennis was keeping a Family Fortunes baton-passing tradition going; when Dennis started hosting the show in 1987, he’d received a call from the original UK host Bob Monkhouse (host from 1980 – 1983), wishing him all the best.

Honour Among Game Show Hosts – who’d have thought?

In all, episode 1 of Come On Down! The Game Show Story was an amiable and entertaining wander through the history of UK game shows with a couple (but not a lot) of interesting nuggets of trivia for the game show aficionado. There’s a lot of Bradley Walsh and his persona in it, including a ‘Test Your Comprehension’-type sketch at the end, where various game show hosts quiz Bradley on what he’s learnt during that episode. If you’re a big fan of Bradley Walsh and don’t find him in the slightest bit annoying, you’ll probably quite enjoy these bits.

But if you’re like me… ah, maybe not so much.

Episode 2 of Come On Down! The Game Show Story focusses on quiz shows in Britain, with winner interviews, several shocking scandals, and trivia tidbits including the surprisingly serious inspiration behind the creation of Mastermind.

All of which will be covered in Part II of my review… next week!




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.



Game show news update #5

newsreader - 'sup y'allHello and welcome to another quick round-up of recent game show news from around the world…

First up today, even more Price Is Right winning tips. Following on from our previous posts on 14th November and 20th November, here’s an article by Carla Day, with even more tips on how to win the games on The Price Is Right. This time, the tips come straight from the show’s Executive Producer Mike Richards and host Drew Carey, and I particularly like Drew’s tip about the prices of the cars on the show. The article’s URL is http://www.buddytv.com/articles/remote-patrol/price-is-right-tips-to-win-gam-51282.aspx

Who Wants To Be A Crorepati? The Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – Kaun Banega Crorepati – has celebrated its first female champion for this year. 26-year-old Firoz Fatma has taken home a cheque for the show’s ultimate prize – Rs. 1 crore. A Crore is a unit in the South Asian numbering system equal to 10 million. So that’s 10 million rupees (equivalent to around $US 162,000).

Although we haven’t spent much time discussing Big Brother here – and when I say “much time”, I mean “any time” – the fact remains that it’s an extremely successful game show, in many territories all over the world. And just like all other game shows, it appears that there are tactics and strategies that contestants can use to give them the edge. Well, at least according to Tim Dormer, the most recent winner of Australian Big Brother. He discusses his Big Brother … wait for it…    journey here, including the mindgames he reckons he played. And hey, he’s just become $250 000 richer, so who are we to argue?

In Hong Kong, a brother and sister have been jailed, after being caught cheating on a live TV game show. After bribing a worker at the TV station to phone them with the correct answers, Fung Kin-fung, 29, and Fung Kwan-wai, 28, won cash and prizes totalling $HK 348,830. But then it all started to unravel… the full story is here. For the record, $HK 348,830 is worth about $US 44,990 at the time of writing.

And finally, a distinctly Hollywood approach to getting on game shows and reality shows, from Dingo over at Hollywood Oracle. Entitled 10 Hollywood Secrets On How To Get On A  Game Show / Reality how, it assumes:

1) that you’re in Los Angeles,

2) That you’re really interested in getting your big break in showbiz, and

3) that getting your head on TV is more important to you than cash and fabulous prizes.

So, if all three of these criteria apply to you… then go for it, you vainglorious bugger!

And that’s all for this news update. See yez!


More fantastic ‘Price is Right’ tips, from someone who lived the dream!

ku-xlargeHello! Following on from my recent post on mathematical strategies for winning on The Price is Right, comes this first hand account by Ben Robinson over at Deadspin.com.

In this very entertainingly written article, Ben outlines his entire TPIR adventure… from boyhood fandom to the fateful day when he was in the running to be one of those chosen few to “come on down”.

It’s a great article, full of practical tips for being chosen as a Price Is Right contestant, and very enjoyable – Ben could never be accused of taking himself too seriously.

So head on over to deadspin.com and check it out. And don’t forget to browse through the comments, underneath the post – some really good nuggets of advice are hiding in there too!