EXCLUSIVE Guest Post # 3 from serial game show contestant Ryan Vickers

Guest blogger Ryan Vickers


Our guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back this week, with an account of his adventures on a Canadian game show from some ten years ago called Inside The Box. I must admit, I was unfamiliar with this show, but I did enjoy reading Ryan’s post, and the fact that he provided links to an actual episode on YouTube really helped it all fall into place.

I hope that you enjoy Ryan’s latest contribution to HowToWinGameShows.com too! ===================================

My Life In Game Shows

Episode 3: Homegrown talent – Inside the Box, 2006

Many game show fans don’t think Canada is a hotbed for game shows – but now and then we get a few. In 2006 I answered an online ad for a TV trivia show. I arrived back from a weekend scuba diving trip to find a tryout invitation for later that day in my inbox! I rushed to get organized and headed to the location specified.

The interview itself was very low-key, and it was a bit odd as the show hadn’t aired yet. We were asked to do a written test that was right out of an English as a Second Language course and then play an alphabet-based game to associate characters and shows. Right then and there, I was told I was going to be on the show!

Which was all well and good.


Weeks went by. I was told of the taping schedule (roughly) and wondered if I’d get a tape date.

Then, thankfully, one Sunday night, I got a call to tape the next day!


BE FLEXIBLE (if your schedule allows) for a tape date. You never know – they might not call again!

I arrived at the studio around 12 PM. The benefit of getting a tape date not near the start of the taping block is that they actually could show us an episode! The show was called Inside The Box, and was based on the parlour game of “20 Questions”, except it dealt with TV characters, TV performers and TV shows. The show required two parts – asking your own questions while “inside the box” for two rounds (where you could score “time”) and answering other contestants’ questions for four rounds (where you could lose “time” if you answered incorrectly).

Right then and there I started to develop strategies.


For answering questions, I made sure to give a quick direct “YES” or “NO” to move the game along. This was to make sure I didn’t incur too many penalties, and to put the onus on my opponent to answer.

For asking questions, I had once read that good players on Jeopardy! didn’t look at the scores. While playing “inside the box” I just plowed through the questions, and took a breather when the major clue came up (after five YES answers).

Here’s the episode in four parts:

PART 1PART 2, PART 3 and PART 4.

As you can see, I struggled somewhat during Sean’s first puzzle. That wasn’t nerves… that was just the fact that I had never seen the show in question!


Don’t let yourself get bogged down on one or two questions. You need to keep going! In this game being in control “inside the box” was more valuable.

And when I said I plowed through the questions, I wasn’t kidding. My goal was to get as much information as I could before I took my (free) guess. As you can see, the other players guessed in other spots in their rounds (which they were allowed to do) but incurred time penalties. I wanted to be sure that I made an educated guess in the time allotted.

What you couldn’t necessarily see was the content on the screens when you were “inside the box”. To my left was a monitor that listed any information that was gained from a “YES” answer and any major clues given. To the right was a bank of thirty questions. These tended to be general questions while you were trying to get the five “YES” answers. Once this was accumulated, a new bank of thirty appeared that were more specific. During the second bank of questions, I could see that it was pointing towards a character from The Golden Girls, and that helped me glean my answer.

I was delighted that Betty White, US game show national treasure, “helped” me win the game. Oh, and if they’d never told me the bonus answer, I’d still be there, 11 years later! Speaking of which, Canadian content rules deem shows to have rerun value, so this episode still pops up now and then, much to the delight of my insomniac friends!


Thanks for that Ryan, and thanks for your ‘Pro Tips’ too. Although Inside The Box is no longer with us, I feel these tips can be applied to a number of current game shows. There’s wisdom in those words, folks! 

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

HowToWinGameShows.com special guest blogger Mr Ryan Vickers


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….


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.


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!


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.


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!



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….



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.


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.


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.


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….”


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.


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!


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…


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.


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

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EXCLUSIVE Guest Post from serial game show contestant Ryan Vickers

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 TopGénies 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.

I look forward to sharing my adventures with you!


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! 

Announcing a first for HowToWinGameShows.com!

I’ve been blogging here at HowToWinGameShows.com since March 2013, and in all that time, I’ve never, ever done it.

Not even once.

I’ve written 218 posts here, and not a single one of them has ever been one of these.

But now, after all this time, and after all those posts, it’s finally happening. I don’t know why I haven’t done this before. Not sure why it’s taken so long, really. I mean, what have I been worried about? Every other blog does it; why shouldn’t I do it too?

You know what I’m talking about. Don’t pretend you don’t.

I’m proud to announce that next week, for the first time ever, HowToWinGameShows.com will be running its very first ever…

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EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Master’, Martin Flood – Part VI – The Conclusion

Martin Flood as ‘the MASTER’, in his big red chair.


This week, I wind up my chat with Martin Flood, regarding his tenure as ‘the MASTER’, on the Australian quiz show of the same name. As always, if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show, I’ve put an episode of it up over at the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page. It’s split into two parts, which can be found here and here


SH: What fame or notoriety did the show give you? And how long did it

MF: While the MASTER was airing, people came up and said hello when they
recognised me, especially when we were holidaying on the Gold Coast. One
woman, as she handed me my milkshake at Sea World, said “You’re Martin
Flood!” For a moment there, I thought she might have been a relative or
friend of a friend because it’s really weird being 1,000 km from home and
someone knows who you are. She was the only one to use my name. Everyone
else called me ‘the MASTER’. That was weird. When people called me that, I
felt so pompous. But as soon as it stopped airing, people stopped coming up
to me.

At the time, I was regularly volunteering for Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The
Streets. I was helping kids with their School’s Certificate or HSC study.
The kids didn’t know I had recently won a million dollars. Then they saw the
ads on TV for the MASTER. They were so excited that the guy they knew as Marty
was some kind of TV quiz guy who had his own TV show. I think that was a lot
of fun for them. But it was even more fun the next week, when the show was
cancelled… because they all really enjoyed ribbing me about it!

SH: If you were invited to be part of something similar tomorrow,
would you do it all again? Is there anything you’d do differently?

MF: I was invited to audition for The Chase. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to
do it, but I found the audition really fun.

With the MASTER, I would have focused more on my on-air persona. I needed
to have spoken with you and perhaps gotten you to write some of my lines. I
was so focused on studying and making sure I’d be really difficult to beat.
I didn’t want to give away free money. But – no surprise! – nothing of what I
studied came up in the eight episodes, so I could have gotten away with doing
no study. I think how I performed as a personality would have been far more

SH: What do you think was the most important thing you learned from
your MASTER experience?

MF: TV is very deceptive. We all know that what we see on TV isn’t completely
real, and it’s usually edited. But I was surprised just how clever producers
are with the ‘magic of television’. I won’t give away any secrets, but I’m
sure you know them.

SH: That all happened in 2006 – what’s been your involvement with the
world of quiz shows and game shows since then?

MF: Nothing. But I like to watch.


And so do we! I’d like to thank Martin for generously giving so much of his time for this interview, and taking us through his unique journey from game show contestant to game show star! I’m really very grateful to him. And ever so slightly jealous too, if I’m honest…

Next week, a special announcement, as I prepare to do something here at HowToWinGameShows.com that I’ve never before done, in the site’s entire four year history.

What could it be?

Check in next Tuesday, when All Will Be Revealed….

Until then, then!


EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Master’, Martin Flood – Part V

This is the penultimate part of my chat with Marty, and this week, we discuss the end of the show’s run, and the effect it had on him. But if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show first, remember that there’s an episode you can watch (in two parts) right here and here.

And now, on with the interview!


SH: How many episodes of the MASTER were recorded?

MF: Eight in total. The first was cancelled after it was recorded as it really didn’t work. The producers decided to label it a “pilot episode”, not that that meant anything. All that mattered was that it wasn’t going to air. Those five contestants got to come back and were split apart into two other episodes. Two of them went on to win $33,300 and $42,300 on their respective episodes, so it worked out well for them.

SH: How many were shown?

MF: Six of the official seven were shown. I don’t really know why one wasn’t, but
there is always a chance your episode won’t air.

SH: Why did the show have such a short initial run?

MF: Some might say one episode is ‘short’ for its initial run… But others said
even that was too long! Personally, I blame the guy in the red chair. I
was told later however that the publicity department didn’t really do their
job and they apparently apologised to the producers later. Before the first
episode went to air, I did two interviews on radio – one in Queensland and one in
South Australia. Two radio interviews didn’t seem like a whole lot of publicity to me. I
remember thinking “couldn’t I just ring up some Sydney radio people myself (I
know a couple) and schedule a chat?”, but I didn’t want to step on anyone’s
toes. Perhaps I should have. When I watched the show, I thought it went
reasonably well. The only problem I had with it was watching myself. Whether
that was because my acting was so bad or because no one likes seeing
themselves act, I really can’t tell.

SH: How did the axing of the show affect you personally?

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EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Master’, Martin Flood – Part IV

Well, it’s a really big chunk of my chat with Marty this week, so we’ll get right into it. But if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the MASTER first, there’s an episode you can watch (in two parts) right here and here.

And now, on we go!


SH: Watching the early part of the MASTER (in particular, from the 01:27 mark to the 02:05 mark), I notice that there’s a montage of you winning Who Wants To Be A Millionaire...

… Except that it’s not, because the Seven network doesn’t hold the rights. (I don’t think the host’s even allowed to mention the name of that show!) So that scene’s obviously a re-enactment. How did you find the experience of shooting that?

MF: Yes, you’re right. They couldn’t use the original footage, so I acted out
winning the million in a really big dark empty studio at Seven. It was the
same big empty studio you see me walking out of in the opening sequence of
the show. I found that difficult and a bit weird. At times I’m sure it
looked like the “Would that it were so simple” scene in Hail Caesar!, but when I just imagined I was really thinking through a quiz question, the producer was happy with how it came across. At least he didn’t scream at me, and for that producer (and you know who I’m talking about) that must have meant he was happy with how I performed.

SH: Your role as the Master required you to observe, interact with,
and compete against the contestants… did this give you any new insights on
the game show contestant experience, “from the other side of the podium”, as
it were?

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EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘The Master’, Martin Flood – Part III

The set of ‘the Master’, in between takes.

Hello! As Martin Flood and I continue discussing his time AS ‘the Master’ ON the MASTER, I wanted to find out about the birth of the show, and any teething troubles it may have had… So I asked him! 

But before that, just a quick reminder that there is an episode of the Master up on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page for you to watch. So if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show, the episode’s in two parts, and you can watch the first part here and the second part here.

And now, on we go!


SH: As this was a brand new show, with a brand new format, I imagine that
quite a bit of tweaking and finessing was still taking place during
pre-production and early production. Was that the case? And if so, what form
did it take?

MF: When I was asked to be ‘the Master’, I think Seven had been working on the show
for quite some time. I was probably the last person to join the team. I
think someone from the production team had told me they had already tried
Red Symons as the Master. Originally, (Executive Producer) Grant Rule had imagined that the show would look like a wrestling match, where contestants would be called out of
the audience – much like The Price is Right – to come up on stage and take on
the Master. Perhaps they could have had Michael Buffer announcing “Let’s get
ready to …”

Or perhaps not.

By the time the people at Seven had vetted Grant’s original idea and decided on what they thought would be appropriate, the show looked very different.

SH: When it came to the production, how did you find actually being
the star of the show? What surprised you most about performing that

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