Four Years Old Today!

Why thank you, Ron.

Yep, four years old today. Could it really have been March 14th, 2013 when I bit the bullet and started this blog, by writing this?

Well, yes. Of course it was – the date’s right there on the page. Although in some ways, it does seem to me like a lifetime ago. In the intervening 1461 days, here at HowToWinGameShows.com, there have been 209 blog posts, including 23 interviews, 15 posts on my own game show adventures, 4 book reviews, and one TV show review. Meanwhile, over at the @How2WinGameShow Twitter feed, there have been 271 tweets.

Along the way, I’ve also written one 208-page eBook (which has now been slashed to half price – just $9.99, by the way)

… All of which has slightly surprised me. When I started this site, I wasn’t sure if there’d be enough material to keep it going so strong for so long. But what a surprise and a delight it’s been to discover that there is! I’d like to thank all of the wonderful game show contestants and winners, and all of the game show professionals (from both sides of the camera) who’ve joined me on the journey. And of course, I’d also like to thank you for visiting the site each week. All of your support and feedback has been invaluable; just brilliant, all the way through.

Well said, that toddler’s T-shirt.

And by way of a sign-off today, I’d like to throw things back over to you – what would you like to see here at HowToWinGameShows in future posts? Please let me know either via email (stephen@howtowingameshows.com), via Twitter, or in the ‘Comments’ section below.

Thanks so much again, to all of you, for everything…. and be sure to check in next week, when another EXCLUSIVE interview with a brilliant game show insider kicks off YEAR FIVE of HowToWinGameShows.com!

 

 

 

 

Over to you.

Hello.

Something a little bit different this week; something I haven’t done in a long while. I’d like to open HowToWinGameShows up to you. It struck me the other day that I’ve fallen into a habit of posting content here each week that I think you’ll like, and that I hope will be useful to you…. but I don’t know for sure if it is.

So today, I’m asking you a favour… could you please let me know what you’d like to see more of, on HowToWinGameShows.com?

Oh, you’re listening, are you? Well, listen to THIS… WHERE’S THE APOSTROPHE, Willy ??

Would you like more interviews? Fewer interviews?

More book reviews? Fewer book reviews?

More game show news updates? Fewer game show news updates?

More behind-the-scenes stories from my various game show adventures? Fewer behind-the-scenes stories from my various game show adventures?

Or is there something else, something entirely different, something I haven’t thought of, that you haven’t seen here yet, but would like to?

The ball’s completely in your court – I’d really love to know what you’d like to see here, so that I can (hopefully) get to work to provide it for you!

So if you’d like to let me know via email, I’m at stephen@howtowingameshows.com,

Or I’m on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/Howtowingameshows/

Or I’m on Twitter: @How2WinGameShow

Or you can just leave a message in the ‘Comments’ section below.

However you choose to get in touch, I thank you for your feedback, and I promise I’ll do my best to give you more of what you want, moving forward!

Thank you, as always.

Stephen

My eBook ‘How To Win Game Shows’ is now HALF PRICE!

Hello!

I have a bit of a special announcement for you this week. As you may or may not know, a little while back, I wrote my first eBook, which was on the subject of how to win game shows. Its title is (unsurprisingly enough) How To Win Game Shows.

And you can get it here. 

I originally priced it at $19.99 AUD, but now, for 2017, I’ve decided to chop that price in half, and just make it $9.99. The eBook is 208 pages long, and features some of the best tips from the first 2 and a half years of this blog, all distilled, organised and summarized into bite-size chapters. There’s also heaps of new exclusive content in there, that I wrote specifically for the eBook, along with quite a few random Interesting Yet Highly Unlikely Facts*, and lots of pretty pictures.

So if you’re on a quest for Game Show Glory, and you’re looking for a comprehensive reference text on the subject that’s 208 pages long, and is divided into 14 chapters and is easy to download as a pdf, so that you can read it on your iPad, laptop, Kindle or Kobo, well then….

Your requirements really are unusually specific.

But you could do a lot worse than having a look at the eBook. Just head over to www.HowToWinGameShows.com/products for all the info, and to order.

Or you can just click on this link.

Or this one.

Or even this photograph of Benny Hill in a ginger Afro

Benny Hill in a ginger Afro.

They all lead there.

Thanks for your time, the sales pitch is now over, and I’ll talk to you next week!

 

 

* Oh alright then, they’re gags.

 

 

 

Coming Attractions…

Hello!

Well, as we begin our penultimate week of the Fawlty Towers Live tour here in sunny Brisbane, I just wanted to do a quick post today to let you know about what’ll be coming up here at HowToWinGameShows.com.

Over the next few weeks, I’m planning quite a few personal posts, telling the behind-the-scenes stories of the various game shows I’ve worked on. Over the years, I’ve served either as a question writer, adjudicator or producer on shows such as 1 vs 100, The ConTest, Shafted, The Rich List, Deal Or No Deal, Spicks and Specks, All Star Squares, Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, It Takes Two, and The Chase: Australia. There are quite a few backstage stories from each of these productions, which will hopefully give you some insights into what goes on behind the scenes of various popular game shows. So stay tuned for them.

Also, I’ve got some more great interviews lined up, with numerous prominent people from both sides of the camera! I don’t want to say too much at this stage, but there’ll be question writers, producers and one or two hosts…

Now before I sign off for this week, a couple of quick snippets from the world of Game Show news…

A new game show that premiered last night on ABC in America – Big Fan – sees celebrities go head to head with their self confessed biggest fans, in order to see who knows more about the celebrity.  The first episode featured Matthew McConaughey, so if they can keep that level of star power up, it sounds like a show that’d be well worth watching.

And finally, just in case you were wondering, Nepal’s first ever reality TV game show – Pahunchhas finished its first season. The show, which was created as a fun and interactive way of strengthening relations between the public and the police, was a ratings hit, and a second season has now been commissioned. I find this story quite uplifting. It’s a really good example of how – with just a bit of lateral thinking in the concept – game shows can be created to be educational, enlightening, while also putting good things back into the community. Should be more of it about, if you ask me. And you can read even more about it here.

Until next week!

Book review – ‘How To Win TV Quiz Shows’ by CJ de Mooi

cj-de-mooi-book-cover

‘How To Win TV Quiz Shows’ by CJ De Mooi

Hello, and Happy New Year, to one and all ! Here’s hoping that 2017 is happy, healthy and fun for you… and that this is the year that all your game show dreams come true.

My first post for this year is another one of my occasional game show related book reviews. Today I’m looking at the first book by former quiz show champion, and Eggheads star CJ De Mooi. It’s called How To Win TV Quiz Shows and I picked it up as an eBook a while ago from Amazon.

It’s a quick read – just 152 pages – and although it does contain some good information, I wouldn’t say it’s an essential text book on the subject. But if you’re a fan of CJ’s slightly snarky, bitchy onscreen persona, then you’ll probably quite enjoy the ride. He writes in a breezy, chatty style, throwing in plenty of his trademark sarcastic barbs along the way.

The book begins with a potted history of CJ’s personal journey – from being quiz show contestant, to being a quiz show winner, to being a quiz show regular cast member. I must confess, I found his personality a bit hard to take during the relating of his life story. A pattern seemed to emerge in this part of the book; he’d repeatedly big-note his wins, then describe his losses as ‘injustices’, while assuring the reader that he’s over them now anyway.

An example of this comes when he relates how on one game show, he was only one second away from answering the final question in a 60 second round, when the timer went off. He complains that contestants not being able to see the clock is a major game flaw, and that this is unfair. To be fair, that’s how it’s usually done, CJ.

This very personal chapter concludes with him telling us that he’s now quit Eggheads, in order to pursue his dream of acting. And he’s happy; he goes to the gym every day, moisturises, and doesn’t care in the slightest what anyone thinks of him.

Hmm….

I can’t help thinking that if he’s telling us that he goes to the gym and moisturises every day, then he cares very much what everyone thinks of him.

Chapter 2 goes through the processes of getting on to quiz shows. This is a UK-centric book, and so the practical tips are all UK-based. He breaks down the reasons that people might have for applying for game shows and goes through them in more detail one by one. There are some useful tips here, such as the middle-aged white man (a demographic that’s generally over-represented on quiz shows) being selected time and time again due to drawing a little rainbow flag on the top of his application forms. Sometimes, positive discrimination works!

This is followed by a very comprehensive account of what you can expect on a studio record day.

Later chapters see CJ interviewing some other quiz show winners; Pat Casey (winner on The Chase and Tipping Point), serial WWTBAM contestant Paddy Spooner and British and European championship quizzer Gareth Kingston. But I’m not sure if I liked the way that he did this; rather than laying things out in a question and answer format, he’s reworked the content of the interviews into a prose, indirect speech format. Along the lines of “Paddy has an illuminating point”… “Paddy mentions his six year old daughter”, “Gareth advised always going in with a game plan”, and so on. This left me wondering exactly what CJ’s interview subjects did say to him in answer to his questions, and exactly how much has CJ paraphrased their responses.

As the book comes towards a conclusion, there’s a chapter titled ‘The Future’, which contains more practical tips about the why and how of getting on game shows – how you apply, etc., etc. It’s all sound advice, but not exactly inside knowledge. He’s a great advocate of joining an organised quizzing league (such as the ones that can be found here), which I think is certainly a good way of brushing up your knowledge, and exercising those question-answering muscles. He also recommends writing quiz questions, in order to get into the mindset of a quiz question writer. I’ve always thought that this is a great tip, and we’ve mentioned it many times here on the blog over the years.

The final chapter goes into more detail about how to write questions, and contains one list that I found interesting. It’s CJ’s Top Ten Topics that you should be well-versed in, if you’re looking for quizzing success. (I think the first one may be a bit anglo-centric, but here they are:)

Continue reading

Happy New Year, from www.HowToWinGameShows.com!

Hello!

I just wanted to drop you all a quick line to say three things….

Firstly, I’m sorry for the fact that there’s been no new content on the site for a while. The Perth season of Fawlty Towers Live, followed immediately by a big and very busy Christmas holiday with the in-laws, followed immediately by the opening of the Brisbane season of the show have left me pretty pressed for time over the last few weeks. (Incidentally, if you’re interested in reading the first couple of reviews of the Brisbane season, which opened a couple of days ago, they’re here and here.)

Secondly, I also need to apologise to you for the fact that the site went down for a couple of weeks. This was due to a DNS server issue, but I’ve since sorted all that out with my hosting company, so that shouldn’t happen again. Again, sorry for the inconvenience.

And finally, I’d just like to wish each and every one of you a very healthy, happy and prosperous New Year. There’s heaps of great stuff coming up here on the blog, including more interviews, game show related book reviews… and a whole lot more besides.

And while 2017 is shaping up to be a pretty interesting and busy year on the work front for me, rest assured, I’ll always give all I can to www.HowToWinGameShows.com – my passion project – in an effort to help you on your game show journey!

Thanks again for your continued interest and support . Wishing you Peace, Love and Light,

Stephen.

An update…

Hello!

Well, as you may know, for the past few weeks I’ve been pretty busy rehearsing for the stage show that I’m privileged enough to be in – Fawlty Towers Live. This has been taking up most of my waking moments, 6 days a week. Rehearsals came to an end this week, though, as the season proper started. And Saturday night was our big World Premiere Opening night. It was one of the most exciting and emotional nights not only of my career, but of my entire life. The full house audience was with us right from the very start, and after the show, during the curtain calls, the applause and standing ovations felt like they were never going to end. Overseeing it all was the man himself – living legend John Cleese, and when he came on at the end and gave me his personal public seal of approval… well, I couldn’t hold back the tears.

hhh

Ticket sales have been good, and reviews so far have all been overwhelmingly positive. I tell you, this is such a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon to be part of. I am so lucky, and I’m loving every minute – every single second – of it, and am fully aware that it will be over all too soon.

Having said all of that… now that rehearsals are over, I find myself with a little bit more time during the days, and so I should be able to keep the regular content coming here at the site. So, next week, I’ll return you to your usual game show-related content.

But right now, it’s hard not to savour the moment… and keep walking on air. I mean, not only do I get to be in this show written by a living comedy legend and huge hero of mine, I’ve even been in a couple of little sketches with him! This one… and this one.

If you happen to be in Australia, and are thinking of coming to see the show, we’re in Sydney for the next 3 weeks, and then it’s on to Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. And after that, we pop over to New Zealand!

Thanks for your indulgence, I’ll return you to your regular game show-related content next week, and until then… DON’T MENTION THE WAR!

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…

EXCLUSIVE interview with serial game show contestant Vicky Jacobs – Part II

How to win game shows vicky jacobs 2

Vicky Jacobs

Last week, in my chat with serial game show contestant Vicky Jacobs, we discussed her appearances on Greed, Temptation and Million Dollar Minute. But Vicky’s game show contestant career certainly doesn’t end there….

=========================================

SH: You’ve also appeared on Millionaire Hot Seat, whose format is very different to the original Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. What strategy did you employ – if any – to make sure your time in the actual ‘hot seat’ was as advantageous as possible?

VJ: I had lots of permutations of strategy in my head going in, but when it came to the actual day, none of them made any difference. I answered the most questions right in my episode, but with the way the day panned out, there was pretty much no chance of getting back into the hot seat. In my opinion, there’s a huge amount of luck in that game and it will only be with a certain set of events that strategy will do you much good.

SH: And most recently, you took to the stage on The Chase: Australia. How did you go, and as a former contestant, what tips or tricks would you now give any future contestants?

VJ: I had a great time on The Chase. I’d been watching the British version avidly and was busting for a chance to play myself. I knew the odds were low of going home with money – I just wanted to play! I got through to the final round – there were only two of us left – but we got caught by the Chaser, losing $22, 000. My advice would be to do everything in your power to have four people playing at the end. Chat about it when you’re hanging out backstage (they don’t seem to mind this).  And if you do get to the end, have a “passing” strategy, with a clear leader who is boss of the passing!  I think we may have squished in a couple of more questions if we had have worked something out beforehand.  Also, this is a small thing but I think could be helpful – don’t stress too much about the chit-chat bit with Andrew O’Keefe beforehand – if you say something goofy, it really doesn’t matter, just keep your head in the game.  I reckon we lost one of our players to this on the day I was on. 

SH: Vicky, obviously game shows are a recurring theme in your life, and you’ve applied and been accepted time and time again. What do you think are the keys to being selected as a game show contestant?

Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE interview with serial game show contestant Vicky Jacobs – Part I

How To Win Game Shows Vicky Jacobs

Vicky Jacobs

A brand new interview for you this week, with someone who’s “been there and done that” a number of times! Vicky Jacobs is a musician, musical director and vocal coach, but she’s also a serial game show contestant, having appeared as a contestant on at least five different game shows. In fact, it could even be said that game shows are in Vicky’s blood, being, as she is, the daughter of a genuine Sale of the Century champion. I was curious to ask Vicky about her diverse game show adventures, and whether she had any hard-won tips, drawn from her wide and varied experience.

And so I did. 

================================================================

SH: Vicky, welcome and thanks for chatting to me today for www.HowToWinGameShows.com

VJ: My pleasure!

SH: I’d like to start our chat today by hearing about your dad – you mentioned he was a Sale of The Century champion. When was that, and what did he win?

VJ: I think it was 1992. He’d won all the prizes except for the car and was playing for the car when he got beaten. It was the fifth episode they’d filmed that day and I think he was probably a bit tired and hungry by that stage. But we won heaps of cool stuff! It kept turning up at the house for months – all the game show classics: saucepans, luggage, ski gear, a home gym, a giant Garfield (still got it!) and we even got a family trip to Vanuatu… so not a bad couple of days work!

SH: How did your dad’s win change your family’s life?

VJ: I’m not sure I’d say it changed our lives significantly, but was definitely lots of fun while it was happening and a real talking point at school (I was in Year 8 at the time)!

SH: Was it your dad’s win that started your fascination with game shows? Or did you “catch the bug” later in life?

VJ: Funnily enough, Mum had actually done Sale of the Century first – she didn’t win her episode but did bring home some prizes so I think she probably gave the bug to all of us. Who doesn’t love free stuff?!  My whole family loves a game of Trivial Pursuit and are highly competitive, so it was kind of inevitable! 

SH: Which was your first game show appearance? Would that have been Greed, in 2001? How did you go during that appearance, and looking back now, was there anything you would have done differently?

VJ: I’ll start this story by pointing out that I was quite young and didn’t know much stuff in 2001. But essentially what happened was: I got a 50/50 question wrong which lost our team $100,000 and put us out of the competition. And that wasn’t the worst bit! The worst bit was being put in a room with them after I’d stuffed it up, while they filmed the rest of the episode. Small talk with strangers who hate your guts – not the funnest hour of my life! I’m not sure I would have done anything differently, as it was a luck-of-the-draw type situation: I simply didn’t know the answer. For anyone playing at home, the question was “Which of these is a currency: ‘punt’ or ‘kind’?”  I now know it’s ‘punt‘ !

SH: Then a few years later, you were a contestant on Temptation (the rebooted version of Sale of the Century). What advice and / or training did your dad give you, as you prepared to go on? After all, he’d been there and done that…

VJ: Dad told me to buy everything that was offered to me!  It was great advice for that particular competition. I was ahead for much of the game so I took everything that was offered. I got beaten in ‘Fast Money’, but when I did the maths afterwards, I still wouldn’t have won if I hadn’t bought, so it was excellent advice.

SH: And what did you end up winning on Temptation? Continue reading