Just a quick, non-Tuesday post to heartily THANK everyone who supported me – and donated to the FebFast cause – over the past 28 days.
Generally, I think Febfast was a success – I only took one 24-Hour Leave Pass towards the end of the month (thank you, Ed Dolista!) – and I managed to raise nearly $600 ($589.24, to be exact) for young people living with serious disadvantage.
So again, thank you to all of you who supported me (and those of you who put up with me)…. and cheers!
Hello! Just a very quick, non-Tuesday extra-curricular post today, to let you know about something I’m doing this month.
I’m taking part in FebFast – swearing off alcohol for the month of February, for a very good cause.
FebFast helps raise funds for disadvantaged young people in Australia. From overcoming mental health issues and the impact of abuse and neglect, to finding safe housing and tackling drug and alcohol problems, FebFast funds youth workers who connect with young people experiencing disadvantage and ultimately help them stand on their own two feet.
This week sees the first instalment in my latest three-part series of patented How To Win Game Shows Behind-The-Scenes Reminiscences (TM).
Or HTWGSBTSR (TM). Catchy, eh?
And this time around, I’m talking about the 1999 game show All-Star Squares. This was a short-lived adventure for me as a game show question writer, given that the show only lasted for about six months…
All-Star Squares was essentially a reboot and re-branding of the classic game show TheHollywood Squares(known in some territories as Celebrity Squares, and in Japan as 3 TIMES 3 IS QUIZ! Seriously.) This show had been on Australian TV before, back in late sixties, and again in 1981… and then in 1999 The Powers That Be at Channel Seven decided it was time for a reboot.
I must have heard about it through the grapevine in late 1998. At that stage, I’d just finished my first year as a full-time professional TV writer on the daily afternoon show Denise and had also served time as a gag writer for In Melbourne Tonight, which was my second professional TV writing gig, after submitting sketches and jokes for Full Frontal.
Anyway, the point is, that the word went around that this new game show was looking for gag writers who could also write general knowledge questions. Although I was writing for BackBerner at the time, I figured this was part-time, and I could fit it in too, so I jumped at the chance. Among others, I found myself working with my long-time writing colleague and best friend Vin Hedger, and Adam Richard, both of whom I’ve interviewed for this site.
I remember that, in attempts to make each other laugh, Adam and I would often rework the opening lyrics to the All Star Squares theme song. As you can hear here, the original is;
“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! The fun and the laughter, forget all your cares!”
But Adam and I came up with alternative versions, including, but not limited to;
“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Some folks like straight trousers, but others wear flares!”
“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Male horses are stallions, and females are mares!”
“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! You can’t catch the train if you don’t pay your fares!”
And various others that I’m not able to repeat here on a family-friendly blog.
All-Star Squares was a unique gig for a joke writer, not to mention a question writer. If you’re unfamiliar with the format of the show, it’s essentially Noughts & Crosses (or Tic-Tac-Toe)… In order to score a point, the contestant chooses one of 9 celebrities, and the host asks that celebrity a general knowledge question. When the celebrity answers, the contestant decides whether the celebrity is right or wrong. If the contestant decides correctly, they score a point.
We writers were asked to submit questions for the show in batches; I think there might have been 20 questions per batch. And for each of those 20 questions, we had to provide:
The correct answer to the question,
One incorrect (but potentially convincing) answer to the question,
One joke answer to the question,
And two solid references to verify the accuracy of the question and its correct answer.
If memory serves, they paid us less than $5 a question for all that. Coming up with a fresh, interesting, usable question – and all of those other elements particularly a joke answer that would work, given the restrictions of the show (family audience, 5:30 time-slot, celebrities with varying degrees of comic ability, conservative network execs, etc, etc) – would often take one to two hours. They’d never get away with paying us so poorly now, and I’m not sure why we all said “Yes” to the deal back then.
Next week, as thisHTWGSBTSR (TM) continues, I’ll take you through the pre-show process of prepping the celebrities in the Green Room. This was the weekly ritual before they all ventured out onto the studio floor and climbed up into their nine individual, hermetically sealed celebrity cells…
Until then, please do try to forget all your cares.
Just a quick one today, to wish you all a safe, happy and prosperous 2018!
May the coming 365 days be filled with love, laughter and light for you. And if you’ll be taking the plunge and appearing on a game show, please add ‘cash’ and ‘fabulous prizes’ to that list.
In 2018, I plan to continue posting here every week, and providing as many tips, hints, interviews and behind-the-scenes stories as I possibly can. And if there’s anything in particular that you’d like to see here on HowToWinGameShows.com in 2018, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I can be reached, as always, at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com
Now I’ll leave you to get on with all those New Year’s Resolutions… good luck!
In case you’re wondering, this boy in the 70s haircut and tiny lemon yellow shorts is NOT me. Nor is the monkey in a nightie.
Just a quick one today to wish you and yours a very, very happy Christmas. Whether you’re Christian, Atheist, Agnostic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Rastafarian, Pastafarian, Sikh or Zoroastrian, please accept my very best wishes for you, your family and your friends this festive season.
Because no matter what our varying spiritual beliefs may be, surely we can all wish each other well. We’re all just people muddling along, and doing the best we can to try and make sense of it all. The things we have in common far outweigh our few superficial differences.
A very happy, safe and kind holiday season to you and yours, and may 2018 bring all that you wish for…. and then just a little bit more.
So the season of Brigadoon finished up on Sunday afternoon, and what a joy the whole experience was! Such a magnificent group of people to work with, and the show was well attended and well reviewed, right across the board.
‘Brigadoon’ – Me as Archie Beaton, alongside the magnificent Sally Bourne as Alice McLaren. Photo courtesy of The Production Company. Photographer: Jeff Busby.
Now, as I get ready to start my next gig tomorrow, I thought I’d just do a quick post, bringing you up-to-date with various gameshow related snippets of news, in case you haven’t seen them. So here we go.
Also from the Jeopardy! desk, (the ‘now-this-doesn’t-happen-every-day’ department) a real rarity, as contestant Manny Abell won with a margin of just ONE DOLLAR, before going on to win over $42 000 in three days.
Back here in Australia, two new game shows (The Walland Cram!) have premiered in the last couple of weeks, both to mixed reviews, to say the least. Both of their networks are saying they’re happy with the numbers the shows have pulled in, but it is a very cutthroat market. It’ll be interesting to see how their viewing numbers settle in the coming weeks…
SUBJECT: A thank you from a ‘Hard Quiz’ contestant.
I came across your excellent website earlier this year, when I was preparing to audition for ‘Hard Quiz’. Although I have a musical theatre background, I had never applied for a game show, and consequently did not know what to expect. Thanks to your very informative articles and resources, I was well-equipped to tackle the face-to-face audition process and was absolutely delighted when I was invited to appear on the show. Being an absolute research nerd, I followed your advice in researching the show back-to-front, devising my on-the-day strategy, and practising religiously at home. In particular, your interview with Gerard McCulloch gave me some clues about how to think like a ‘Hard Quiz’ writer.
My episode of ‘Hard Quiz’ aired last week. Although I did not win the Big Brass Mug, I made it into the final two, so at least I got to see one in person! Since the show aired, I’ve received a lot of lovely feedback on social media about my performance on the show, so I thought it was only fair for me to write in and say a huge THANK YOU foryour virtual advice. If you feel like watching a short video of me roasting Tom Gleeson on the show, you can find it here.
Chookas for ‘Brigadoon’! I live in Sydney, so unfortunately I won’t be able to see it. I always wish The Production Company shows would tour interstate!
Yes, yes – I know what you’re thinking; “Wait a minute… This week’s post is shaping up to be nothing more than an utterly shameless one-man festival of pure, disgraceful self-congratulation. Oh come on, Hally – we expected better of you, you shameless hussy!”
Okay; firstly, a little harsh on your part… but please bear with me.
Caitlin really made my day, because this is EXACTLY the sort of thing that I wanted this blog to be all about.
The whole idea when I started this blog, back in March 2013 was to provide a resource for people wanting to go on game shows. And that’s exactly what Caitlin has used the site for. If you’re thinking about auditioning for a particular game show, there are a whole lot of articles and interviews here, on a wide variety of them…. including Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, The Chase: Australia, Hard Quiz, Millionaire Hot Seat, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire… to name just a few!
You can SEARCH for the show you’re interested in with the handy dandy SEARCH bar above (in the top right corner of the page).
Or just click on the title of the show you’re interested in, in the “CATEGORIES” section. (Also on the right hand side of the page, a little lower down).
So I’d like to thank Caitlin for reminding me to remind you about the features of this site, and how to use them. Caitlin’s next game show adventure may very well be on The Chase: Australia, and so I wish her the very, very best of luck with that!
Hello everyone. Sorry, but there’s no post here today.
Apart from this one.
You see, I haven’t had time to prepare a game show-related post for the blog this week, because yesterday I just started an intensive rehearsal process for the stage musical Brigadoon, which will be on in Melbourne… just 3 weeks from now!
So please bear with me for the next couple of weeks, and normal service will resume as possible. We have another instalment of Ryan’s Life In Game Shows coming up, and I also have some more behind-the-scenes anecdotes and reminiscences, which I hope will in some way prove helpful to you.
In the meantime, I must dash back off to the Scottish highlands, and my kilt is beginning to chafe….
Ryan Vickers, on the set of the UK game show ‘Countdown’
As promised last week, here’s the very first Guest Post I’ve ever had here at HowToWinGameShows.com.
It’s from Ryan Vickers, who’s a Canadian game show fan, game show veteran… and game show host! Ryan has very kindly offered to do a series of posts for the site on his life in game shows, and here’s the first one.
Take it away, Ryan!
My Life In Game Shows, Part I: Getting To Know You.
My mom chuckled. “Oh Ryan, why are you spending five bucks on stamps?”
“Because Mom,” I replied, “It’s Wheel of Fortune”.
I grew up in a household where creativity was encouraged. My parents were both educators. So that meant no violent cartoons like all of my friends. No Nintendo Entertainment System – my friends were left to their own Super Mario needs.
When my friends were busy, I resorted to the thing that I loved: game shows. Canadian or American, French-language or English-language, it didn’t matter. We grew up near Montreal, and that meant with cable television came foreign adaptations from other big money American game shows.
I can’t tell you exactly where the passion (okay, addiction) came from. I do however remember not ever wanting to miss any game shows. And you can bet that when we went away on trips, I would do everything I could to be in front of the telly to see out-of-market game shows. I even spent one year in the late eighties with a routine; Get up. Shower. Breakfast. Fun House at 7:30. Run for the school bus. And so it went.
Why do I like game shows so much? Is it because of the lights? The sounds? Those catchy theme songs? No, it’s because it’s about people doing the out-of-the-ordinary in extraordinary situations. And now, with the presence of sites like YouTube and television networks like Buzzr and GSN in the USA, both classics and modern shows are available 24/7. I was even delighted to turn up a late seventies Reach For The Top / Génies en Herbe all-star game with Alex Trebek hosting in both English and French.
We’ll get to Wheel and Reach soon enough, I guarantee you.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones. The first game show I applied for, I got on. And I’ve been really lucky since then. I’ve appeared on eight (yes, that’s right, eight) television and radio game shows in Canada, the USA, England and France. In addition to that, I’ve been part of a studio audience on three continents over thirty different times, and once even a part of someone else’s experience.
And I’m really looking forward to reading them, Ryan!
I’d like to thank Ryan so much again for coming on board as my very first guest blogger, and hey, if you – yes, YOU! – have any game show adventures / stories / jooooourneys that YOU’d like to share with the game show community – through HowToWinGameShows.com – why not let me know?
Given the flying start that this first example has got off to, I’m really open to the idea of future guest bloggers. So if that could be you, just drop me a line at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com, and let’s talk!