My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Australian Survivor’ WINNER Pia Miranda – Part V

Hello and welcome to part five of this eight-part interview.

And just as we reach the final stages of our chat, we’re also reaching the final stages of Pia’s Australian Survivor experience…

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SH: Now we’re getting down to the pointy end of the show… when Baden took you – and not Harry – through to The Final Two with him. I remember watching it, and at that moment, I thought ‘Pia’s got this’. I thought if Baden were to have any chance, he should have taken Harry; Harry had made himself unpopular in various ways along the way, so at least Baden would have had some chance against him. But when Baden chose you instead, did your heart soar? 

PM: It was complicated… because Harry didn’t play a great game up until maybe the final eight and then he played a fairly a good game. Whereas I played a really good game up until the final eight, and I had been on the bottom before, so I was struggling to survive. Baden didn’t see the first three quarters of my game (before the merge) so he didn’t know what game to play– 

SH: He was on the other tribe then, of course. 

PM: And I’d been working with Baden a lot to get him to take me through. I’m like, “you can’t take Harry, because you both play the same game”, yada-yada. So, I was pretty confident Baden was going to take me; that’s why I didn’t have to beat him in the challenge. But my heart did soar, yes! Harry and I had told each other we weren’t going to take each other… but we also thought we could lose to Baden because this is Australia and Australia loves an underdog and Baden is sweet. He annoyed people, and he was a blabbermouth – that was probably his worst trait, but that was the trait he owned and was part of his game. But I thought you could totally lose to Baden because it’s that thing where people can vote with their heart sometimes and be like “Oh, he’s a sweet kid, let’s give him a shot”. I loved Baden, but Harry and I both though that losing to Baden would be very traumatic. 

SH: Yes, because you worked so hard and you gave it your all. 

PM: Yes, so we definitely had a moment where Harry and I thought ‘it could happen, because this does happen sometimes in Survivor‘. My heart did soar a little bit, though, because when I looked at the jury, there were a couple of people I was convinced would vote for Baden…. but when I was counting in my head, I thought ‘I think I can count on five votes here’. 

SH: Yes, you needed five out of nine to win…. but as it turned out, you got nine out of nine votes! That’s never happened before. 

PM: Nine has happened a couple of times in America, but I’m the only female in the history of Survivor to get a nine-zero vote, which gave me legendary status on Twitter – that’s where it counts! 

SH: I imagine that when the votes were being counted and they told you that you won… that you didn’t learn about the number nine until well after all the hoopla. You only needed five. 

PM: Yes, I was expecting to do that thing where they create jeopardy… you know, “that’s two votes Pia, two votes Baden….” and build the suspense as they go.   

SH: But they didn’t, because they couldn’t – they didn’t have any Baden votes to add into the mix. 

PM: They did “two votes for Pia” and then I expected two votes for Baden to come up… but then they went to “three votes Pia, four votes Pia”… I think you can see my face getting really confused. I’m just so shocked. And then I’m like “I’m going to need one more”. When Jonathan said “you’re the winner”, I just didn’t process what had happened… but then when I went into the interview afterwards, they said “you’ve got every single one. You’re the first female in history to get every single vote.” I was just like pretty overwhelmed. 

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… and here’s the picture of that moment, which Pia shared with her son James.

What a LEGEND! Next week, I ask Pia about the differences between Australian Survivor and American Survivor and whether she’d ever consider returning to the franchise as part of an All Stars season…

See you then!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Australian Survivor’ WINNER Pia Miranda – Part IV

Hello and welcome to part four of my exclusive interview with Australian Sole Survivor Pia Miranda! Before our interview officially began, Pia had mentioned that there were two challenges out there that really tested her...

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PM: The first challenge that was the hardest was the first Tower of Terror, where you had to grab the peg. Because there are a couple of challenges in Survivor that if you’re short, you’re at a real disadvantage. 

SH: Yes, we noticed that, while we were at home, watching you… 

PM: Yes. And it wasn’t just because the peg was high up; it was also very far out, so I just couldn’t get it. I did that one 14 times in a row…. which was painful! Slamming into that water every 6 minutes is painful. I was literally lying on the floor of that tower just waiting for my turn, with no breath, going “Physically, I can’t do this”…. 

SH: And yet you did. 

PM: I eventually did it. And the other one there was the Stepping Stones. Ross broke his ankle doing that one. There were these big poles you had to run over, and they were so far apart. 

SH: So again you were at a disadvantage. 

PM: Yes. I think I fell off of that about 12 times too. 

SH: So that’s just a built-in unfairness in those challenges. If I were to do it, for instance, I would find it much easier than… 

PM: Shaun just stepped over them. (* Shaun is 201 cm tall). So the taller contestants aren’t running and jumping and falling like I was. 

SH: Of course.  

PM: So, you get through that stuff. I think the Tower of Terror was the worst one for me, but you get through that stuff, you go through all this pain and your family is there that really propels you because I’m looking at my husband going “I really want to win this money for us!”, you know. 

SH: Yes, when I was watching that final endurance challenge at home, putting myself in your shoes, I found I was also putting myself in your husband’s shoes, watching you endure that stuff. If I was watching my wife do that, I’d find it pretty challenging. 

PM: Yes, he said it was hard not to just jump in and take me off. 

SH: Yes, you’re suffering – he wants to help end your pain. 

PM: Yes. 

SH: So, you earned your money!

PM: Yes, medical came up to have a chat with me because my feet were getting  too swollen, but I didn’t want to get off and he said that it was tough knowing that medical actually stepped in. I did it and I beat Harry. 

SH: You did it!

PM: But it’s okay; I’m flying Harry out for the holidays. I only made two promises on the beach. 

SH: What were those? 

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… and a Happy New Year!

Yep, the front cover of George Benson’s album certainly knows what year it’ll be, a few hours from now….

Hello, and a very Happy New Year to you and yours!

I hope that 2019 has been a happy, safe and prosperous year for you. It’s been a good one over here at HTWGS HQ, with a quite a few more interviews, guest posts, industry insider reminiscences, and (hopefully) a lot more helpful game show hints and tips for you.

I know I haven’t managed to bring you something every week this year – there have been quite a few other demands on my time* – but I hope you’ll forgive me for that, and that what I have managed to bring you here has been interesting and / or useful.

Now, there is something that I need to talk to you about….

Back in March, I know I promised you a second How To Win Game Shows eBook by the end of the year.

This news just in…

It’s not done.

Yeah look, I’m sorry about that. You see, after finally getting the first HTWGS eBook properly published (and priced!) on Amazon in January, the plan was that I’d finish my second (non game show-related) eBook, get that up on Amazon in February, and then go straight into the second HTWGS eBook.

That second eBook was just days away from being finished and uploaded when, for reasons I won’t go into here, it all came to a screaming halt. This meant that the two years I’d spent working on it did not result in a polished, fascinating, jam-packed 250 page finished product after all… but they did result in an extremely valuable learning experience.

Cést la vie.

After that, in the course of re-examining my writing and publishing goals, I came up with my Bold Literary Experiment / Frustrated Novelist / Mid Life Crisis idea… This is my 52-chapter novel, which I’m writing over the course of a year, from my 50th birthday to my 51st birthday. I’ve been releasing a new chapter each Friday at noon, and you can read them all here. This project has been taking a lot of my time and creative energy this year; time and creative energy which I think would otherwise have been poured into the second How To Win Game Shows book. I hope you forgive me. The second HTWGS book is still on the way – it will still be a mini memoir about my time working on various game shows over the last 20 years. Its working title is Tales From The Shiny Floor, and here’s an early idea for a cover photo….

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this eBook will be a compilation of all of my Patented HowToWinGameShowsReminiscenses, from a career spanning 20 years in the industry. There’ll also be insider interviews, behind the scenes photos, more ‘Interesting Facts’, with quite a few game show tips and hints sprinkled throughout.

I’ll be throwing myself into the writing of this as soon as the novel’s finished. That’s scheduled for May 2020, but I’m happy to report that I’m currently five weeks ahead on the writing of that. Hopefully, if I can continue to work at my current pace, I can increase that lead time, and get the novel finished even further ahead of schedule. Which will mean that I can get to work on the second HTWGS book sooner.

Anyway, so that’s where all that’s at. I’ll sign off for this week – and for 2019 – with a reminder that my EXCLUSIVE interview with Australian Sole Survivor Pia Miranda continues here next week, and once more – a wish for all good things for you and yours in 2020!

As always, I thank you for your patience, and your continued interest in this site.

Cheers,

Stephen.

* Apart from the serialised novel, some of the other demands on my time have been this, this, this, this and this.

Merry Christmas!

Hello! Just a quick one this week, to bring you tidings of comfort and joy, and to wish you all the very warmest Season’s Greetings!

As another year draws to a close, I’d also like to thank every one of you who visited the blog, every one of you who got in touch with me on Twitter, and every one of you who purchased my eBook. It’s very heartening – and humbling – to know that there’s still a place for this site, and that so many people are getting something out of it.

So again, I thank you.

I’ve got some really interesting stuff on the cards for HowToWinGameShows in 2020…

… which I’m quite excited about, but I’ll go into that in more detail next week.

Oh, and one more thing…. If you’re in Australia, and you happen to be watching Vision Australia’s Carols By Candlelight on the Nine Network tonight (broadcast LIVE, from 8:00 PM)…. keep an eye out for Santa popping up during the show.

Does he look a little bit familiar? Hmm?

MERRY CHRISTMAS everybody!

Peace, love and light, to you and yours.

Stephen

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Australian Survivor’ WINNER Pia Miranda – Part III

And now dear reader, Part three of my exclusive interview with ‘Australian Sole Survivor’ Pia Miranda, in which we discuss the longest-lasting endurance challenge in Australian Survivor history….

… Which she won, by the way!

But before that, I wanted to talk strategy…

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SH: You mentioned you’ve been a fan of the show all the way through… presumably you watched all the seasons of Australian Survivor so far?

PM: Yes, I watched every one and had seen all the American ones.  

SH: Did you have an overall game plan before you started or just a vague sort of idea? 

PM: My game plan was to play really low key for the first two weeks, but that didn’t come to fruition… because I was almost voted out on the first day! So I had to play so hard. I just hit the ground running and I was playing hard and fast early. My plan was to find one person that I would bond with, not lie to and have as an ally… which I did find in Janine. And it really does save you when you have one person you can trust, because they’re going to keep an ear out and let you know things they hear. So, you get way more of a vibe of what’s going on around camp when you have two sets of eyes and ears. Then maybe I regret it, but I really decided to just play hard and not play for TV, not play to be liked, not play to do something great for my career… I really just went “I’m going to play to win!” 

SH: When you say “playing hard”, how do you define “playing hard”? 

PM: Just playing to win. Not making big moves just to be exciting. I wasn’t going to do anything crazy to create “crazy fun TV”. I figured if I was going to leave my family for seven weeks, the only thing I’m concerned about is winning the game.  And that was good, because every week, rather than thinking about how I am being perceived, I just thought about getting to the next trial; about surviving that next tribal. That was my only aim. 

SH: Eyes on the prize. We mentioned it earlier, but at the first tribal, you said “I’m either going to be the first one voted out, or I’m going to win the whole thing.” What made you think that? 

PM: I think I’m a bit of a slow burn with people. I don’t open up that easily. I was always the new kid so I think being a new kid you know when I’m put into a new situation, I am good at it but I do take my time to work out where I fit. I’m small. I don’t look athletic. I think like I’m pretty sassy and kind of dry, but I don’t really show that when I first meet people, so I come across a little bit vanilla. 

SH: You play your cards close to your chest?  

PM: Yes, totally, so I felt like it would take me at least a week to really get a crew together. I thought the fact that I’m a bit awkward in new groups and the fact that I’m probably not the most physical will probably put me on the chopping block early… and it did. 

SH: And it did. BUT you came through and did the second thing you said; you went through and won the whole thing!

PM: I know! Thank God. I was so scared I was going to go home the first. 

SH: Well, somebody always has to be the first one to go home, and you always feel for them. 

PM: The Survivor nightmare. I did feel bad for Anastasia (the first player voted out) because I got along well with her, but I had to cut her throat because it was either her or me. 

SH: Whoa! (LAUGHING) Now, the last physical challenge… Good lord! You mentioned endurance training earlier, but surely even that couldn’t have prepared you for this… Am I right in thinking it’s the longest-lasting Survivor challenge ever? 

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Australian Survivor’ WINNER Pia Miranda – Part II

Hello and welcome to the second part of my chat with Australian ‘Sole Survivor’ Pia Miranda. When we left off last week, Pia and just taken the plunge, agreed to do the show, after discussing it at length with her family.

Now read on…

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SH: So, once the decision was made how hard was it keeping that secret? 

PM: It was hard keeping the secret… especially I went to a theater opening and there were some actors there. And you know actors love to ask each other “what are you doing?”, “what are you up to?” And I said “I’m going away for a while” and so it was “Oh, what are you doing? What are you doing? Is it exciting?” and I was like “Yeah, it is exciting”, but I didn’t want to tell anyone – I wasn’t allowed to – so I just told people I was going to Fiji to film something. 

SH: That’s believable, that’s logical. 

PM: I did tell close friends and family because I knew they could be trusted and I didn’t want them to worry about me. Because you know there’s no email or phone contact out there. I actually directed a few people to Tash, my agent, so she got a bit bombarded with people going “Is she alive? What’s going on?”  

SH: Yes, nowadays we don’t even consider not being in touch with everyone at all times. 

PM: Yeah. Although I must say it was so much easier than I it would be, thanks to the producers. They say “No news is good news”. So, you know if you don’t hear anything from anyone back home, then everyone’s fine. So you kind of don’t miss it at all. 

SH: Right. Obviously if there’s an emergency they’ll let you know. I guess it must boil things down to what matters and doesn’t matter. 

PM: Yes. 

SH: It’s an enforced digital detox. 

PM: Yes, it was a really good digital detox. 

SH: What training did you do beforehand, and what part of your training ended up being most valuable? 

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Australian Survivor’ WINNER Pia Miranda – Part I

Hello! This week, I’m really pleased to bring you the first part of my exclusive interview with the latest winner of Australian Survivor; the marvellous Pia Miranda. Pia’s a brilliant and popular Australian actress, who I had the pleasure of working with on three seasons of Mustangs FC, where we we played proud parents of two of the teenage soccer players on the show….

See? There was a lot to talk about with Pia’s recent ‘Sole Survivor’ experience, so I thought I’d better start at the beginning….

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SH: Pia, thanks so much for talking to me about your Survivor experience for HowToWinGameShows.com!

PM: My pleasure!

SH: Now, you’ve been a fan of the show for many years…. 

PM: Yeah. 

SH: So how did your getting on the show come about? 

PM: So, I did a TV Tonight interview and, as part of it, they asked “what’s your guilty pleasure?” I said “I’m a massive Survivor fan; I’m obsessed with it. I haven’t missed a season since it started”. And then the next question was “if you could be on any TV show, what would it be?” I responded with something quite highbrow,  because I thought that’s what people want to hear. 

SH: What was the highbrow thing? 

PM: I think it was something like The Handmaid’s Tale you know, a worthy drama. I did also wonder if I should’ve put Veep, because I like comedy. But when I wrote my answer and I looked at it, I had this ‘authentic’ New Year’s Weirdness (it was New Year’s Eve), and I just deleted it. I thought ‘actually, if I’m honest, I always talked about being on Survivor.’ Because I was really obsessed with being on Survivor for years. 

SH: Did you ever apply? 

PM: I tried to apply for the American one in my twenties, but you have to be an American citizen. 

SH: Okay.  

PM: So, I just wrote Survivor. I thought it was actually truthful and it’s funny, and maybe not what people expect from an actor. So I sent off all my responses to the interview questions, and didn’t think any more about it, and then I think the story ran on New Year’s Day and then two days later, they emailed me and said “Come play!” and I was like “I didn’t actually mean I wanted to play…” 

SH: “Joking, guys!” So, how did you go from this flippant answer to making the actual decision to dive in? 

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A podcast about ‘Quiz Show’…

Link

Hello!

Another cross-promotional, podcast-related post this week, but this one’s much more relevant to game shows and how to win them.

I promise.

It’s been 25 years since Robert Redford’s brilliant movie Quiz Show came out, and we’re revisiting it today. Quiz Show is a great period drama, based on the real life scandal behind the game show 21 back in the late 1950s. You may remember that I reviewed this movie here last year (my first ever movie review for the site!), but recently, I was invited onto the movie podcast Chatflix to discuss it with host Brose Avard.

Spoiler alert: we both liked the movie.

If you’re interested in the details, you can find the episode right here:

Episode 160 Quiz Show with Stephen Hall

So there it is, available for your listening pleasure right now, if you’re interested.

Now, I did mention at the top of today’s post that it would be much more relevant to winning game shows than the last one was… and it just so happens that there IS one very big tip on winning game shows that’s central to the plot of Quiz Show. But if you haven’t seen the movie yet, this could possibly be considered a spoiler, so I’ll leave a bit of a gap before I reveal it…

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Off on a cross-promotional / self-promotional tangent…

Hello! I’m going off on a bit of a tangent this week, which has nothing to do with game shows, or how to win them.

Sorry about that. Actually, no I’m not. I’m not sorry at all. This is my blog. Mine, do you hear me? So I can do whatever I blummen well like… Right, kids?

And so today I’m just going to remind you about – and give you a quick update on – my B.L.E.* As I think I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve undertaken a fairly daunting task this year – I’m writing my first ever novel, and releasing a new chapter online every Friday, from May 17th, 2019 to May 17th, 2020.

You can find it at http://www.thestephenhall.com/novel-chapters/, or by clicking on the image above.

I’m 21 chapters into it now (of the total of 52), and it’s proving to be one of the most challenging, intimidating, difficult – and yet exhilarating – things I’ve ever done. One of my hopes when I started was that the project would build up a readership, who’d keep checking back each week, subscribe to the blog, get active in the comments section, and even get a bit of story discussion going, as it all unfolded. That hasn’t materialised yet, and that’s partly why I’m plugging it here today. The story is a rollicking, swashbuckling space adventure (PG – rated) that takes place 512 years in the future, on an enormous luxury space cruise ship that’s been boarded by pirates. There are ray gun battles, daring escapes, a mysterious treasure, double crossings, desertions, and all that good adventurey stuff. I’m trying to write the kind of audacious, quick-moving ripping yarn that I enjoy reading myself, for a bit of escapism.

As part of the writing process, I’m also recording a short video diary entry each week, discussing the creation of that week’s chapter. You can find all of the weekly video diary entries on the dedicated YouTube channel (click on the image below)… but I would recommend that you don’t watch an entry until after you’ve read the chapter it’s discussing. (Here be spoilers!)

Anyway, please do consider dropping by and sampling the novel, if it sounds like your cup of tea.

And finally, below is a link to the latest episode of The IndyCast (The World’s #1 Indiana Jones Podcast), where the show’s host Ed Dolista very kindly allowed to me babble on about the B.L.E for a while (starting at the 12:10 mark)…

IndyCast: Episode 285

And that’s it for this week. See you back here next time, when it’ll definitely, definitely, totally and utterly be something about game shows. Promise!

* Bold Literary Experiment.