Game Shows Without Borders

Hello! This week our bilingual Canadian guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back – this time with a game show adventure that takes him across international borders, in a case of ‘Game Shows Sans Frontieres’…

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My Life in Game Shows

Episode 8: Playing In Your Second Language – ‘Motus’, 2013

In late 2011, I found out that I had secured the first (of what, thankfully, led to many) tickets to see the London 2012 Olympics. Having watched game shows based in France for at least 20 years, I decided that perhaps the time was right to reach out to Motus, which is a French game show based on the little-known late 80s Canadian game show Lingo and better known these days from its version on Game Show Network in the USA. After some back and forth conversation (to check if I was eligible), I arranged for an audition in late August 2012.

PRO TIP: If you’re travelling abroad, apply for a game show! The contestant staff actually took the time to have a private audition with me because as much as I wanted to be on their show, I’m sure they saw it as a nice thing to have someone promoting their show outside their national borders.

I’ll have to be honest – I trained for several weeks for Motus, watching back episodes and playing the game online. I had the audition and I felt went just okay. I wish I had done more. I left thinking it was a “thanks but no thanks” situation, although they did extend the courtesy of giving me a home game on which to practice.

Which leads me to April 2013, when at about 6:30 AM one day I checked my email and found I had been given a tape date to be on the show! I quickly accepted, booked a flight, and four months later I was on set – with my father in tow – to tape my run on the show.

PRO TIP: Use your lead time wisely. I found a GREAT story online by Robert McKee, that described a wonderful strategy for how to play the game. I worked his tips into my strategy for playing the game.

The taping, unlike those in North America, was very calm and put me at ease. We simply stood at the podium and played the game off of a monitor. In fact, the only concern I had was talking in my second language, which turned out not to be a problem at all.

PRO TIP: When applying for a game show, give them a hook. Make them interested in you! I made sure to mention, for example, that I watched their show on the satellite channel available to me.

During the game, I played out my strategy, which worked for my teammate and I. I took my time, made educated guesses, and decided not to play the game exclusively as a game of words, but rather a puzzle to be solved, which just happened to involve letters and not numbers or pictures.

PRO TIP: Have FUN when you’re playing the game. I decided before the show to play to win but also to let my mind be at ease, and to roll with the punches. I enjoyed myself so much that I ended up on a French blooper show! If you’re having fun you’re going to do better.

Here is the episode! 

And here’s the subsequent clip on the blooper show (sorry for the point and shoot!)

While we didn’t win the show (due to some unlucky bingo ball drawing) it was a great experience, and one that challenged me both on a game show level and a language level. I was grateful to my partner for agreeing to play on a team with me, and to the staff of the show as well. In fact, the show allows another go…. so I think I might just do that!

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Merci, Monsieur Vickers – C’était génial! (which Google Translate tells me is French for “That was great!”) I can’t imagine the added degree of difficulty that competing in a different language would bring to the game, and I applaud you for diving in. And I hadn’t really thought about it before, but if you are travelling overseas, why not apply to be on a game show while you’re there? You have absolutely nothing to lose, and potentially a whole lot to gain.

Sympa, Ryan! (which Google Translate tells me is French for “Nice one, Ryan!”)

Ryan’s back, with ‘My Life In Game Shows: Episode 7’

Ryan is back this week, with a brief entry chronicling his time on a somewhat usual Canadian game show… But despite the relatively low stakes, and the fact that the show isn’t around anymore, Ryan does – as always – have some great tips and hints for you.

Over to you, Mr. Vickers!

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My Life In Game Shows

Episode 7: Bringing along others for the ride – ‘Ice Cold Cash’, 2012

For years in the USA there was a game called Cash Cab – and in fact it’s coming back – where contestants mysteriously got into a taxi and answered questions to win cash. Food Network Canada came up with their own spin a number of years ago called Ice Cold Cash, whereby players answered food-related questions from a man driving an ice cream cart.

I found out about this game show the same way I found out about Inside The Box… on Craigslist! I dashed off an application and heard back a couple of days later that they wanted to book me for the show.

PRO TIP: Don’t just check a television network’s website and assume that they have the only contestant application information – make sure to do some digging. Look online on sites like Craigslist as well as blogs… and maybe even a game show host’s Instagram, for example.

Two different things happened in the lead up to the taping.

First off, I found out that I was near the start of the taping block. This is due to the fact that the production team got hold of me a few days before I was scheduled to tape. “We have been doing the show with single players”, they stated, “and it’s not really working the way we wanted it to. Please bring a partner.” In two days, I thought? Okay, I can do this.

PRO TIP: Roll with the punches. If I hadn’t said that I could get a partner (even if I didn’t have one in mind), I wouldn’t have gotten on the show.

Thankfully, I knew the perfect person to work with in this escapade – one that I had appeared in a reality TV show with previously, and she was free on the tape day.

The second thing was that production was still finding its legs – we weren’t where to go until the night before; they were still scouting locations. Again, as I said above, roll with the punches.

The show itself was a fun romp. We ended up filming in a large urban park in Toronto and we enjoyed our time. Take a look!

BONUS – watch my good friend on the show (on her own, to boot!)

PRO TIP: If you need to pick a teammate, make sure it’s someone whose skills complement yours. Don’t just aim for a “TV friendly” partner, but also one who fills in the blanks in your weak subject areas!

We had some luck with where the questions fell;

  • My friend is Italian and there was an Italian food question.
  • The name of my game show that I hosted on campus radio in university came up as an answer.
  • And we’re both French teachers by trade… and we got a French food question!

Mind you, if they’d allowed unlimited time on questions, it’s almost certain that we would have still been there six years later! It’s hard to walk away, but I remember not wanting to guess because we didn’t have a solid idea.

Next time I’ll hop back across the pond where I faced arguably my toughest game yet!

 

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I’d like to thank Ryan so much once again for all the work he’s putting in to sharing his various game show experiences with us. It’s great to read about someone’s game show journey in such detail, and to see so many tips and hints sprinkled throughout his posts.
Thanks again, Ryan!

Guest blogger Ryan’s appearance on a cult classic…

Hello!

Firstly, an apology for the fact that I didn’t post here last Tuesday.

I was away on a little family holiday, enjoying a bit of R & R, so HowToWinGameShows.com wasn’t front and centre in my mind. It is this week, though, and today, our guest blogger Ryan Vickers returns, with Episode 6 of his game show adventures. And coincidentally enough, this time, it’s all about a certain holiday that HE took, and how game shows DID remain front and centre in HIS mind while he was away. Over to you, Ryan. 

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My Life In Game Shows

Episode 6: A cult classic – ‘Countdown’, 2009

In 2009 I embarked on a year-long adventure. I took leave from work and was determined to fulfil many goals that required different timing than my job would normally allow. In addition to wanting to see game show tapings – and I ended up seeing 12 different tapings on three different continents, which I’ll talk about in a future post – I also wanted to BE on another game show in a completely different country. I set my sights on the UK – I had previously lived there and was familiar with many of their game shows.

I ended up downloading three application forms – Going For Gold, The Weakest Link and Countdown. Of the three, I decided to focus on Countdown as I felt I would be at less of a disadvantage because the other two required knowledge that may have been Euro-centric.

PRO TIP: If you’re serious about getting on a game show, make sure to pick one that plays to your strength. Ask yourself where you feel the most confident – Words? General knowledge? Audience participation? Talent based? – and focus on that.

Initially I tried to email the application but it bounced for whatever reason. So I went old school and sent off a letter in early June of 2009. A week later, I received an email from the associate producer with the first line stating “Thank you for your application for Countdown – although we were a little surprised to see the Canadian address!”.

PRO TIP: If you’re thinking about applying for a game show in another region, DO IT! The worst they can say is no. And if they say “sure, we can accept your application”, they will probably be very accommodating. Shows really like contestants from “far away”!

To speak to that tip, the associate producer arranged not only to do an audition over the phone but also made sure that a tape date would work with my travelling that fall. As a result, that November I found myself on the set of Countdown taping an episode.

… And that’s where this picture of Ryan comes from!

Countdown was a wonderful experience but is very much a quiet affair. It has great play-along value both in the studio and at home. Which leads me to my next piece of advice.

PRO TIP: Seek out any ways to practice the game you can. Don’t only watch the show as it is currently running (which tends to be difficult if you’re not in the normal viewing circle) but seek out past episodes on sites like YouTube. Play the home game, find online stand-alone or multiplayer games too. Perhaps the show has an official game on the Apple Store or Google Play and if not, find a knock-off version. If all else fails, build yourself your own practice set. Many games allow this – Countdown for example only required me to make decks of consonants, vowels, and a series of numbers.

On the show I had thirty seconds with the clock going to either find a longest word or do a calculation. This time goes by quickly!

PRO TIP: Focus on the task at hand. I learned to block out the clock’s accompanying music only until the last few beats when there was a tempo change, so as to confirm my answer. Focusing on the task at hand also means making sure to not worry about other things going on around you in the studio, which you likely can’t control.

Although Countdown did hand me my first game show loss (and yes, I’m well aware of this site’s name but sometimes you don’t always win, sadly!) I made sure to take lessons from it. In retrospect, I would have prepared differently using more online resources. However this did help me for future game show outings!

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Thanks Ryan, some great tips there. For those of you in Australia, the equivalent show here was Letters and Numbers, which ran on SBS from 2010 to 2012. It was hosted by journalist / newsreader Richard Moorecroft, although one of the hopefuls who auditioned to host the particular show was in fact….. me.

But that’s another story, and one which I’ll be relating soon, right here at HowToWinGameShows.com!

Guest blogger Ryan Vickers returns, with some great ‘Wheel of Fortune’ tips!

HowToWinGameShows.com special guest blogger Mr Ryan Vickers

Hello!

This week, we have the second instalment of our special guest blogger Ryan Vickers’ LIFE IN GAME SHOWS! I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did, and just a reminder… if you have an interesting game show story (or game show stories) to tell, and would like to follow Ryan’s lead and be a HTWGS guest blogger, please drop me a line (Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com) and let’s chat!

But right now, it’s over to Ryan, for….

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My Life In Game Shows.

Episode 2: The Big One (and it is a biggie).

When I was in my last year of high school in Canada, I turned 18. Having just missed the cut off for Supermarket Sweep the year before, I was anxious to apply to any game show that would have me. As luck would have it, Wheel of Fortune was to audition selected Canadians in Toronto in the fall of 1996. I dashed off ten postcards to the address required.

As a game show fanatic all of my young life, I had done it all in my small town. I had hosted game shows at school, at parties, in class and played in the local quiz bowl league. When I applied for Wheel, I hoped and wished but really the odds were against me. I was later told that 250 out of 50,000 postcards came out of the drum. My mother took the qualifying call as I was at school; she then took two headache pills once I stopped screaming after she told me the news later that day.

The audition, a five hour drive away, was at a downtown hotel. Apart from filling out the information sheet and doing a puzzle quiz, you had to stand up and call a few letters and then sit down.

PRO TIP:

When you are at the audition, try and do the following:

  • Make eye contact with the contestant staff and speak clearly with enough volume (but don’t yell).
  • Have confidence and make sure you know how the game is played!
  • Prepare a few funny anecdotes that will make you stand out from the crowd and that you are comfortable talking about if you are asked. More and more, the focus is on personality first, game play second.

In life, waiting is the hardest part. As a result of my tryout, Wheel put me into an 18-month window for a possible chance at the show. Sometimes the call never comes. Thankfully, for me it came and my mother and I flew down to Los Angeles six months post-audition, to tape my run.

Walking into the studio, it’s like stepping into Oz. While I’ll get to it later, if you haven’t seen a game show taping and you want to, you really should. My experience was awesome, as we were treated like royalty in the holding area!

PRO TIP:

When you’re on set, try to put yourself at ease. During rehearsal, I was able to gauge how far I could spin the wheel which helped me during the show. I took the time to look around, figure out where the host would stand, where all information would be (like used letters and the current score for all players), and generally to shake out my nerves.

In the audience, I watched the first three episodes being taped. I appreciated this; it let me get a feel for what was going on. My name was drawn for Episode Four, and I was raring to go!

Here’s how it went, in three parts; PART 1PART 2, and PART 3. 

It really does go so fast. I was relieved to win the first round and could pay my parents back for the trip! Everything else was icing (and upcoming college tuition payments). I also feel I got lucky in regards to the puzzles – Round One’s BEFORE AND AFTER category is my favourite, Round Two dealt with not wanting to oversleep, and Round Three fell directly into my Year 12 English class wheelhouse.

PRO TIP:

Pay attention to what’s going on and use your time wisely! When the wheel was spinning, I looked at the used letter board to figure out my next pick. When it was someone else’s turn, I was focused on figuring out the puzzle word by word. This helped quite a bit – during the entire run of the show I only relinquished control of the game due to landing on a penalty space because I was able to focus on the game!

After the bonus round was done, I ran backstage, changed clothes, and was back on set for the next episode 20 minutes later! And here’s the result;

DAY 2; PART 1, PART 2 and PART 3

After all was said and done, (including forfeiting the “Luggature”) I ended up with about $20,000 Canadian!

A month later, on my gran’s 75th birthday, the show aired. I invited 20 school friends over to watch the first show and everyone was quite surprised to see the result. Most couldn’t believe I held in the secret!

And lucky for me, there was more to come!

Ryan.

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Lucky for us, too. Thanks again Ryan, for sharing not only your adventures, but also those great Wheel of Fortune tips… from someone who’s actually been there, and done that! Much appreciated, and I greatly look forward to the next instalment of Your Life In Game Shows!

‘You May Be Right’…. or maybe not. Part II.

Hello! This week I’m rounding out my list of 7 ever-so-slightly hazy memories of You May Be Right, an obscure Australian panel game / quiz show that I wrote for back in 2006. If you’re here in Australia, and you remember this show, please get in touch with me (at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com) and let me know what your memories of it were! But in the meantime, here come the rest of mine….

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YMBR MEMORY #3

In the game Crate Expectations, when Australian politician Pauline Hanson was the ‘mystery guest’, she kept answering the panel’s ‘Yes/No’ questions about herself incorrectly… or at least, misleadingly. For example, if they’d ask if she was known for singing, she’d say “not usually….” completely sending them down the wrong path for their subsequent guesses. It made for a misleading, confusing and unsatisfying game.

She’s not very smart, bless her.

I think another one of the show’s mystery guests was Kamahl.

YMBR MEMORY #4

I remember, during one of the games, our show’s host, Todd McKenney, telling the panellists to “shut up” and reminding them “it’s my show, guys. Remember, this is my show.” On air.

YMBR MEMORY #5

Todd asking me in the Green Room if I thought the show would work, and find an audience… and me saying something (hopefully tactful) like, “Yes, absolutely!”, while thinking “Probably not”.

Rule #1 of writing for Light Entertainment television; Keep The Talent Happy.

YMBR MEMORY #6

The theme song. The production couldn’t get – or afford – the rights to the Billy Joel hit You May Be Right. They did approach Mr Joel (or ‘his people’, to be more accurate), but the money he wanted made securing the song impossible. Could it have been $100,000? Something like that? Whatever it was, for our purposes, it may as well have been a hundredy billion*. Mr Joel clearly didn’t want his song used for this venture, and that was a surefire way to ensure that it wouldn’t be.

I remember thinking that must be a nice position to be in; “Someone wants to use something I’ve created… I don’t want them to, and I don’t need the money. So I’ll just price myself out of the market, and that will make this go away. But, if by some strange chance it doesn’t go away, and they agree, then… KA-CHING! Money for jam!”

In the end, The Scared Weird Little Guys, who were the show’s house band (and two of the loveliest blokes you’ll ever meet), wrote an original theme for it, which was so catchy, I find myself humming it as I write this. “Yooooooou May Be Right, dum da da da da da daaa….”

YMBR MEMORY #7

I remember that the two competing teams in each episode were named after classic TV shows. For example, The Addams Family VS The Munsters. I’m pretty sure there was an I Dream of Jeannie VS Bewitched show, and there was most definitely a Cop Shop VS Blue Heelers episode. I thought this last one was great, as the 3 celebrity players on each team were actually cast members from these classic Australian cop shows. So they weren’t just celebrity TV fans testing their knowledge and memory of random shows, they also had behind-the-scenes stories to tell; they actually been there through the making of these fondly remembered shows.

This was, I think, when You May Be Right was really at its best.

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But… it was all over very quickly. For whatever reason – or reasons – the show didn’t last very long. We only made four episodes, I think. I do seem to recall there being a faint whiff of desperation about the whole thing; an over-riding feeling of “We’re all having a lot of fun, aren’t we, guys? Aren’t we, guys? GUYS?!! YES?! FUN?! YES??!” In the end, not enough people watched the show to justify its continued existence. 

There’s not much evidence online that it ever existed. Apart from a Wikipedia page with broken links, there’s a rudimentary imdb page, and this archived Channel 7 page about it, but that’s all I’ve been able to find. Unfortunately, it was one of many less-than-successful attempts by Channel 7 to create a successful commercial comedy panel game show light entertainment format. Attempts that to continue to this day….

And so, this venture that we all worked very hard on, and had high hopes for, (and were counting on for our income) came and went all within the space of two months.

C’est la vie.

Adventures like that are all just part of the cut-and-thrust of being a light entertainment/game show/quiz show/comedy writer for hire in this country. In many ways, it reminded me of my experiences being Head Writer on another short-lived game show with a comedy element; Shafted.  

But that’s another story….

* And that’s actually heaps.

‘You May Be Right’…. or maybe not. Part I.

Something a little bit different for you this week. A reminiscence about a game show that I was involved with…. and that, for quite a while, I had completely forgotten existed!

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In July 2006, I was living in Sydney, when I was approached by Denis Spencer, who was my boss when I worked on Deal Or No Deal. His production company was developing a new game show for Channel 7 based on a Swedish game show called Doobidoo. Back then, after the recent runaway success of Spicks and Specks (a light-hearted, panel-based quiz show about music trivia) on the ABC, Channel 7 wanted a similar show. This new show, after a number of other suggested titles, was named You May Be Right, and Todd McKenney was signed to host it. Following his success as a judge on Dancing With The Stars, he was now part of the Channel 7 family. It was devised as a panel game show, with two panels of three celebrities facing off against each other, over various rounds of pop culture trivia questions, tasks and stunts. The job Denis offered me – “head writer” – saw me helping to come up with various games for the show and eventually, writing all of the show’s scripts on an ongoing basis.

Now, dear reader, because this happened so long ago, I’m afraid my memories of it are slightly fragmented. So here, in no particular order, is a grab-bag of

7 Memories From The Making Of You May Be Right…

YMBR MEMORY #1

I remember one of the show’s producers (who shall remain nameless*) being very enthusiastic, gung-ho, and aggressive, and quite foulmouthed in his everyday conversations.

One of the games was to guess the identity of a “mystery celebrity”, who was in the studio, but not visible to the players. While we were workshopping the best way to present this game, the aforementioned foul-mouthed producer had the following idea;

“So, we disguise their voice, right? And we can’t see them, right? Because they’re in an outdoor dunny! In the studio! And we just see their shoes! And the panels ask them ‘Yes / No’ questions, and when the panel successfully guesses who they are, right, we hear the dunny flushing, and then the celebrity comes out, doing up their pants! It’ll be f***ing hilarious! Everyone will piss themselves laughing!”

An outdoor dunny. Exactly where that producer’s idea belonged.

Okay, four things…

  1. Classy. Very classy.
  2. How many celebrity guests did he think would be jump at the chance to be presented this way on national television?
  3. Call me a naysayer, but what if it turns out not to be as funny as you think it is? Even 30 seconds is an awfully long time for a TV audience to be looking at an outdoor dunny…
  4. With ideas like this, so confidently expressed, how did you get to be a producer so high up the ladder? YOU?

In the end, wiser heads (I.e: absolutely everyone else’s) prevailed, and eventually the mystery celebrity was hidden inside a crate. I came up with the name for the game; Crate Expectations. Alright, alright. I’m not proud of it.

YMBR MEMORY #2

Meeting Pauline Hanson. Yes, I met Pauline Hanson as part of this whole experience.

Continue reading

‘It Took Two’… Part III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I thought “What am I doing?”

What had my priorities become?

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

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

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

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

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

Our very own duo had become a trio.

‘It Took Two’… Part II

Hello!

This week, I continue the whole It Takes Two / impending fatherhood adventure, from May, 2006. If you’ll recall, I’d scored a job writing a new celebrity game show (/ reality show?) called It Takes Two. The show was being shot LIVE each Sunday night in Melbourne, and I was living in Sydney at the time. To add to the complications, my wife Judi was pregnant, and suffering from quite severe hyperemesis, which meant that she was nauseous, depressed and pretty much bed-ridden for the majority of her pregnancy. Each day I was away from her weighed heavily on my mind.

NOW READ ON…

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The production flew me down to Melbourne from Sydney for two or three days each week, and put me up in a hotel a few doors up from the studio. This was essential, because these were very, very long days (and nights), often ending at 2 or 3 in the morning, once I’d added in all the latest additions, revisions and feedback to the current version of the script, from all the various Powers That Be and all the on-air talent.

Speaking of on-air talent, the show was hosted by Grant Denyer and Terasa Livingstone.

Grant and Terasa, on the set of ‘It Takes Two’

Grant, who currently hosts the successful reboot of Family Feud on the Ten Network, was on a roll when he came to host It Takes Two. He’d been doing the weather as part of the Seven Network’s Sunrise team for years, and was now stepping into Seven’s Sunday night 7:30 time-slot in this replacement for Dancing With The Stars… having just won Dancing With The Stars a few weeks earlier. Same network, same time slot! He was a natural fit, and a very good choice for this role. And a lovely bloke, to boot. Always cheerful, helpful and very smart too.

Joining him as co-host was Terasa (pronounced TerAYza) Livingstone; an Australian actress, model and presenter who’d just come back from America, where she’d booked some impressive jobs, including a gig on Lost. Terasa had started out many years before on the Seven network as a children’s presenter, so this was something of a homecoming for her. She was bright, bubbly, a great improviser, and the camera loved her. I thought she was a great choice for the role; she also had a great rapport with Grant, and was very charming to work with – never precious.

I do, however, remember one ‘controversy’ during the run of the show which really shook Terasa’s confidence. After each performance by one of the duos, it was Terasa’s job to interview them in the green room “backstage”. In one of these interviews, Terasa asked one of the female celebrities about her chosen charity. (As per Dancing With The Stars, each competing celebrity nominated a charity that received donations from the show on their behalf.) The celebrity named her charity, and said it was significant for her because her father had recently passed away of an illness, and the charity did work in that field. On hearing this, Terasa looked down the barrel of the camera and said something along the lines of “Aww. Hi Dad! Love you, Dad!” It seemed to be intended as a shout-out to her own father (who would have been watching), reminding him that she loved him. And perhaps reminding us all how precious our fathers are.

But that was not how the (live) viewing audience saw it. The backlash was swift and widespread. Was Terasa ignoring or dismissing the death of the contestant’s father, by saying “hi” to her own? Or was Terasa somehow, bizarrely, sending a greeting to the contestant’s dead father? Whichever way it was received, Terasa couldn’t win. She was viewed as insensitive, as thoughtless… when all she wanted to do was send a warm greeting to her own dad. Granted, the execution was flawed, and it was live television, so there’s no second chances to go back and correct these things, but I do remember the next day seeing Terasa at the production office, looking absolutely shell-shocked. We all bolstered her up, and told her we understood her intentions, but she seemed genuinely mystified as to how people could think those things about her. I really felt for her. Terasa was a kind person, and that result was a million miles away from anything she ever would have intended. She soldiered on brilliantly, and did the remainder of the season expertly, but I can’t help think that incident was something of a turning point for her. I remember wondering at the time how her comment would have gone over with an American audience. I’m sure they would have got her intention straight away, and would have thought it was a nice warm moment. I sometimes think we Australians are too cynical by half…

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Next week, as I wind up the It Takes Two saga… a rock and roll legend, a big moral dilemma, and the denouement of it all. And this and more, right here, next Tuesday!

No post today (except for this one).

… And we’re done.

Hello folks,

No post today, sorry. Well, no post about game shows, anyway.

You see, I’ve been pretty busy over the last few weeks writing the Logies, and the last week in particular has been very demanding on my time. The night itself was on Sunday, and by all accounts, it seemed to go fairly well. There were – as there always are – highlights and lowlights…. but so far, I haven’t seen or read anyone saying that the lowlights were from my department…

Of course, everyone’s a critic, and you won’t please all of the people all of the time… but I think (that is, I hope) it generally achieved what it set out to do, and that general embarrassment was kept to a minimum. Well, embarrassment as a result of the scripting. Those acceptance speeches, and what the presenters and winners choose to say of their accord? That stuff’s all out of my hands.

Live TV, ladies and gentlemen, live TV….

Anyway, now that AustralianTelevision’sNightOfNightsWhenTheBrightestStarsComeOutToShine™ is over for another year, I look forward to returning you to your regularly scheduled game show related posts.

And for those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, a list of all the Logie winners can be found here.

See you next Tuesday!