Ryan’s Life In Game Shows, Episode 16: Conquering A Mountain – Part 3 of 3

Hello!

And welcome to the climax of Guest Blogger Ryan Vickers’s three-part post on his experience as a contestant on the French Canadian quiz show Au Suivant (which translates as.. Next!)

So far, Ryan’s applied to be on the show, he’s been interviewed to be a contestant, he’s been selected to be a contestant, he’s made his way to the studio, he’s met his fellow contestants, he’s met the show’s host Stephane Bellavance….

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And then it was show time! I was lucky to snag spot number one in the line so I got to lead off the show. Here’s the episode in its entirety.

As you can see, it was an awesome experience – let me touch on some highlights:

THE HOSTING GIG: When Stephane came backstage to discuss conversation topics, I gave him a choice of three scuba diving stories… or my ambition to be a game show host. I can’t even start to tell you what a MONSTROUS thrill it was to get to host, and to interview Stephane before the show started. The production staff arranged that – and I had no knowledge that it was going to happen before I arrived at the studio. And then came the wait for six months to see if it would make the edit – which it did! I’ve had a fun time sharing that clip.

WINNING THE FIRST ROUND: I was so nervous when the first question came up but so thrilled when the third came up. I had set a goal to at least get one scroll, and now I had the chance. That excitement you see is genuine!

PICKING A SCROLL: We had lessons on how to do this. Use your fingers to slow the carousel. Don’t stop it immediately. Don’t grab a scroll while it is moving.

ON WHETHER OR NOT TO STOP: I had run some numbers based on average winning scores from the previous year’s shows. $6K wasn’t going to cut it. It’s like stopping on 60 cents when you’re the first spinner on the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right. Sure, you’re probably going to go over, but at least you control your own destiny.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU’RE DONE: You realize you’re done. If you’re me however, you’ve got a massive grin because it was one of the craziest five minutes of your life and you have a smile plastered on your face.

THAT BONUS ROUND: We were SO happy that Sandrine won. Having won big on a game show at a young age makes a massive difference.

My friends and I stayed around for the second episode, got a few pictures and talked with Stephane after it was done.

To conclude: When I was fifteen, I was in an article in the local newspaper, saying that I wanted to be a game show host. 26 years later, it came true. Never give up on your game show dreams!

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I couldn’t agree more, Ryan! I’d like to thank Ryan again so much for taking the time to share his story over the last three weeks, and – in case I haven’t said this before – for his endlessly positive, joyous attitude. Always a pleasure. After all, they are called game shows… and games are supposed to be fun! 

Remember, you can follow Ryan on Twitter at Real Canada Man

And hey – if you’d like to follow in Ryan’s footsteps, and write a guest post (or two) for HowToWinGameShows.com, just let me know! You can contact me, as always, at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com. So if you have a game show-related story – or stories – to share, drop me a line! I’m always open to new contributors and ideas. 

See you next time, for ….

Ryan’s Life In Game Shows, Episode 16: Conquering A Mountain – Part 2 of 3

Hello!

As you’ll remember from last week, Ryan had applied to be a contestant on Au Suivant, a French Canadian quiz show, somewhat similar to Australia’s Millionaire Hot Seat. He’d made an audition video and sent it in, and subsequently received an invitation to do an audition / interview for the show on FaceTime.

WILL the interview go well?

WILL the contestant selectors take a shine to him?

WILL Ryan be selected as a contestant on the show?

Let’s just say that there’s a lot riding on the outcome of this interview.

Now, I don’t want to give too much away, or spoil that outcome for you… so I’ll just let this picture do that.

Now read on!

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The day came. I put on a nice outfit, sat down and got ready. Two things happened that weren’t really to my advantage. First, I put the phone down to put FaceTime on horizontal and all of a sudden, my two-person interview panel became two half-faces! The next bump came for my very first question; “What is the main ingredient in hummus?” I knew it was chickpeas but I couldn’t find the French word…

My interviewers said “Tu peux le dire en Anglais!” (You can say it in English!)

Which I did… and I thought might be the end. However, it was not and I used that to my advantage. One of my interviewers told me to just say a funny answer if I didn’t know the real answer. I decided to roll with it; I figured it might not go anywhere and so I should treat it as a fun learning experience. Several times during the interview I made the interviewers laugh. In addition, the personality section went well.

That was late April.

The first Friday of June was a particularly difficult day at work. I had a long road trip planned for that evening, so my mind was probably somewhere else as I checked my email on my phone. I read the first line of the new email that had arrived.

« …vous avez été sélectionnée comme candidate pour la prochaine saison d’Au Suivant ! »

After years of trying, I had finally made it! I was going to be on a French-Canadian game show! I was pumped. Following that long drive, I sat at breakfast the next morning at my hotel and ordered the Au Suivant board game online.

For the next two months, I played the game incessantly with friends. I dug out my old copy of Qui Veut Etre Un Millionaire? to use as flashcards. I recruited a friend who had been on both Jeopardy and Millionaire to conduct Skype sessions twice a week. I was going to be ready for this.

I found myself at Radio-Canada in early August. We were led down into our green room where we went over the rules and contestant agreements. I talked with the other contestants (in my group there was someone who had been on five game shows and another person who’d been on eleven!), and generally just relaxed.

About a half hour before the show we were led onto set to practice where we should stand, where we should look and where we should exit, if luck was not on our side. It was at this time that my friends arrived to sit in the audience and I was pretty excited. This was the first time in a long while that I had a rooting section! We were then led back to the green room.

We were just shooting the breeze when Stephane, the host, came in to say hello! He gave us some sound advice – keep it moving but have fun! – and talked to each of us individually to see what we would talk about on air before we started our round of questions… that is IF we got to play. The structure of the show doesn’t guarantee that everyone gets to play, although we were told that if we didn’t get to play, they would try to bring us back for a future episode.

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Next week, as this three-part post concludes, Ryan meets up with Stephane again, when he takes to the stage to play Au Suivant

See you next Tuesday!

STOP PRESS – ‘Mastermind Australia’ still needs contestants!

Hello Friends, just a quick one today.

If any Australian quiz enthusiasts are up for a challenge, the new season of Mastermind on SBS is still looking for contestants.

If YOU’RE interested in applying, let me know (stephen@howtowingameshows.com) and I can put you directly in touch with the contestant co-ordinator!

Message ends. Thank you for your attention.

Your normal service will resume tomorrow.

 

Ryan’s Life In Game Shows, Episode 16: Conquering A Mountain – Part 1 of 3

Hello!

This week sees the first part of a new three-part post from my regular guest blogger – and game show contestant / game show enthusiast / game show host – Ryan Vickers. And this time, our Canadian friend, who you can follow on Twitter by the way (@RealCanadaMan), gets all impressively bilingual.

So… Emporte-le, Ryan!

Which means “Take it away, Ryan!” 

(Well, it does according to Google Translate anyway.)

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My Life In Game Shows.

Episode 16: Au Suivant, 2019

“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down!” 

Tubthumping by Chumbawumba

Dear reader, when I had last written you, I figured this might have been the end. Luckily, it wasn’t!

In the summer of 2017, I had a number of whirlwind game show experiences. One of them was seeing a new show (to me at least) called Au Suivant, which was a French-Canadian adaptation of the original Italian show Avanti Un Altro! Loosely translated it means “NEXT!”. Think of it as Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but with a line up. This all boiled down to a warm summer’s night when I found myself at the Radio-Canada studios to watch a taping in August of 2017. I was fascinated by this show (more than you know!) and after the taping, I vowed to apply for the next season.

Quick back story: we lived about 90 minutes’ drive from Montreal when I grew up which means we had all access to Quebec TV channels, most of whom adapted formats from the USA with smaller budgets. I dined on such shows as Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, Jeopardy!, Street Smarts, Supermarket Sweep and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, helping me to improve my French as life went along. I was a bit nervous to apply and when I finally did, my love of Fort Boyard was not to be, as it was cancelled before I had the chance to apply. I did have auditions for shows such as Le Cercle and Paquet Voleur which required a long six-hour ride to Montreal but they didn’t pan out.

So, it happened this past Easter, in early April 2018 that the contestant call for Au Suivant went out. I wasn’t about to miss my chance. I put together an audition tape.

PRO TIPAs others may have said, make sure that your audition tape is sharp and gets across your personality. I put in an interesting tidbit (I am one of the coaches for Team Canada for ‘sport stacking’), showed my love of travel (by saying hello in front of one of the TV station affiliates when I was away on vacation a month previously) and made myself stand out (I explained why I should get picked by sitting on my staircase, talking clearly with my scuba diving gear in shot).

Take a look at my interview video! I’m not above saying that I did about twenty takes before I got the right wording on the stairs! I also filled out the application and sent it off.

My phone rang about three weeks later when I was sitting in our staff lounge. I read the name on the inbound call and raced to my classroom to find out that I had booked a tryout! And unlike last time, I auditioned for them via FaceTime!

PRO TIP: I had lead time of about two weeks for the audition. I made sure to organize two key things. Firstly, I arranged a room at my workplace that was going to be extremely quiet. Secondly, I recruited a French-speaking friend to simulate the interview – both the “personality” section and the “knowledge” section.

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And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next week, we find out whether Ryan’s audition is successful or not (spoiler alert: it is), and exactly what homework he did in preparation for this, his latest game show appearance. 

Jusqu’à mardi prochain!

Which is “until next Tuesday!” in English. 

I think. 

Another birthday, and a Big Announcement!

Hello! Well, here we are – six years old today.

It certainly doesn’t seem like six years ago that I took a deep breath, and nervously sent my first ever blog post out into the world. But it was. And since then, here at HowToWinGameShows.com, there have been almost 300 blog posts, 28 interviews, more than 400 tweets, 1 guest blogger and one eBook which combines some of the site’s best content – and a lot of new, just-for-the-eBook content – into one volume.

And there’s plenty more to come! In fact, today I’d like to make a VERY SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT. May I have a drum roll please?

Thanks very much, Invisible Cartoon Drummer.

Today I’m announcing a second How To Win Game Shows eBook!

It’ll be a sort of mini-memoir: a compilation of all my behind-the-scenes adventures in the game show industry. In one capacity or another, I’ve worked on some 16 game shows over the years, and I’ve got stories from all of them. There’s also ‘the ones that got away’; those gigs that I nearly got… but didn’t. In the book, I’ll also go into detail about all those times, when I came so close and yet so far…

So, if you’re a game show aficionado (and I’m assuming you are, or you wouldn’t be here) this will be a unique and personal glimpse behind the scenes into what really goes in to making some of the shows we love so much.

… and, in true How To Win Game Shows style, a few tips, hints and strategies just might find their way in there as well.

The book’s coming together, and I’m looking at a release date some time in the second half of the year, after I get Being Basil – and a couple of other creative projects – finished and out into the world. Of course, I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the new book here, and on Twitter and Facebook, but if you’d like a more personal reminder when the time draws near, please do consider joining the specific email list that I’ve set up for the eBook side of things, by emailing me at author@TheStephenHall.com.

As yet, I don’t have a title for this book… and I thought I might consult you about that.

What do YOU think would make a good title for a book about my various behind-the-scenes adventures as game show question writer, game show adjudicator, game show producer and would-be game show host?

Please leave a reply below, and let me know your thoughts – any and all contributions gratefully received!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Tiger Mum’, Cheryl Toh! Part 2 of 2

Hello! Last week saw the first part of my interview with the latest addition to The Chase Australia, Cheryl Toh, AKA The Tiger Mum. Last week we covered her background in quizzing, and the lead-up to this gig. Today we’ll focus on her new role, what her family thinks of it, and just how she keeps those mental muscles in shape for – 

Yes, alright – fair enough Cheryl.

I’ll get on with it.

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SH: What do your family think of the persona you’ve adopted for the show? How much of a Tiger Mum are you in real life?

CT: My family likes the nickname. It was either me or my father who first suggested it. Many women, especially in the Asian community, regard it as a compliment to be called a “tiger mum”. For me, I am having a bit of a laugh at myself. While tiger parents have many great qualities, it wouldn’t hurt them to have a bit of a laugh at themselves occasionally too, I reckon. My kids will have to answer your second question! My sister-in-law Yvonne leaves me in the dust though – she makes her son do 5 hours of homework every day.

SH: What sort of study or training do you do for the show each week?

CT: I read eclectically, go to a couple of pub quizzes, watch quiz shows and play on a few quiz apps. I have a very smart English friend in Harrogate (a surgeon) called Jon who sends me lots of challenges. He loves the British version of The Chase and hopes he can see one of my episodes someday. Sometimes I’ll trade questions that I think are challenging or interesting with my mates (including Issa) on email or WhatsApp. My good pal Alan talks a fair bit about sports, current affairs and movies and I pick up plenty of tidbits from him.

SH: And finally… (I understand entirely if you’d prefer not to answer this, but I feel I’d be neglecting my duty if I didn’t ask)… are there any tips you can share for any aspiring contestants wanting to go up against you on The Chase?

CT: Do your homework! That’s good general advice not just Tiger Mum advice. Like most things in life, you will do better on quiz shows if you have prepared yourself mentally. Watch lots of episodes of The Chase Australia, and read Stephen Hall’s marvellous book which covers many practical aspects of quiz shows. Going on a quiz show is not an experience that many people have, and reading this book gives you insights from people who have actually done it, and won! I do hope to meet many more contestants, as I’ve faced such lovely and interesting people so far. Andrew (O’Keefe) and the crew do an awesome job of making the day a fun and memorable experience for contestants. I think 99% of them go away having had an absolute blast, plus they get the chance to enjoy watching themselves on national TV later with family and friends. I certainly appreciate their courage, good humour and sportsmanship.

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I’d like to thank Cheryl for giving so generously of her time… and for her great tips, her very kind words, AND for plugging my book into the bargain. Completely unsolicited, I promise! Cheryl’s a very entertaining Chaser, and if you’re in Australia, you can catch her on The Chase Australia, 5 PM weekdays on the Seven Network… 

Which I most highly recommend you do.

See you next time!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Tiger Mum’, Cheryl Toh! Part 1 of 2

Hello, and welcome to my first EXCLUSIVE interview for 2019. Today, I’m really pleased to bring you my chat with the newest addition to the cast of The Chase Australia… Cheryl Toh, otherwise known as The Tiger Mum!

As you’ll see, I was aware of Cheryl’s presence in the quiz community, and so was really pleased to see her pop up as the newest Chaser in the Australian version of the hit quiz show. I’m very grateful to Cheryl for taking the time to chat with me… now let’s see what she had to say!

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SH: You have quite a background in trivia and quizzing – was it through Martin Flood that you and I met?

CT: I haven’t actually had the pleasure of meeting you in person, but yes, we first got in contact via Marty Flood. I was already a big fan of yours having watched you blitz it on Temptation. I also really enjoyed your work on The Hollowmen. You’re a VERY funny guy!

SH: Thank you, you’re very kind! Have you always been interested in trivia, and quizzing? Where did your interest come from?

CT: I started quizzing properly in my mid 20s. It came about by chance. I was living in Melbourne at the time and decided to go along to a Temptation audition, for some fun. To my surprise, I answered most of the test questions correctly and was contacted quite quickly to appear as a contestant. I was only on one episode but won over $8000 from a lucky Vault spin and some prizes from the Famous Faces board. The experience taught me to back myself on answers more confidently, as I hesitated in the final 60-second round and it cost me the game. I also discovered quiz shows are really fun! Although I didn’t quiz much before that, I really liked studying throughout my school years, so the interest in learning was there from quite a young age. I credit my excellent primary school teachers for enthusing me about knowledge, as well as my parents who emphasised the importance of doing well in my studies.

SH: And if memory serves, you appeared on The Einstein Factor – what was your special subject?

CT: You are right, I was on The Einstein Factor and my special subject was the TV series Poirot. I lost to Andrew McDonald, who went on to become the Series 4 champion.

SH: What did you learn from that experience?

CT: That Andrew knows a LOT about the Luftwaffe and heaps of other stuff! I picked up that buzzer technique (timing) is very important, and that in most quiz shows, you must stay very focussed as the outcome can change in a matter of seconds.

SH: Back in 2015, you were a contestant on Million Dollar Minute – how did you go there?

CT: I won $75,000 on Million Dollar Minute.

Cheryl on ‘Million Dollar Minute’

SH: And what did you learn from that experience?

CT: It was really important on that show to get into a good rhythm with the buzzing. I also found from my own experience, and from watching others who’d gone on this show before me, that staying calm helps one’s performance. I learned that I didn’t have the most resilient attitude towards failure, and I have tried to change for the better since then.

SH: Before The Chase came along, you had been a lawyer in your professional life. Did that help prepare you in any way for your role in the show? If so, how?

CT: Oh I’m still a lawyer Stephen! I still have a regular day job like most people. 🙂  I don’t know if training in any particular field gives you an advantage in quizzing. It’s true though that lawyers are used to reading a lot. And I think reading widely is one of the most effective ways to learn trivia, so maybe there is a connection there – not so much with the legal profession but rather with jobs that require a good deal of reading, because the habit might make you faster at reading and processing that information.

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That’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next week, we discuss the origins of Cheryl’s Tiger Mum persona, she reveals her training regimen for being a Chaser, and shares her Two Top Tips for anyone wanting to be a contestant on the show. Until then, then!  

 

 

The eBook’s now (finally) available on Amazon!

Well, it’s been a looong time coming, but I’m very happy and proud to announce that my eBook How To Win Game Shows: Winning Tips, Tactics and Strategies from Game Show Producers, Hosts, Writers… and Champions! is now finally available on Amazon.

You can find it right here.

It’s cheaper than it’s ever been before, (now at $5.99 AU) and it’s been updated, re-formatted, and optimised for tablets, phones and Kindle e-readers. It’s chock full of tips, hints, photos, gags… and heaps of links to a whole lot of video content.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve learned an awful lot about self-publishing over the last couple of months, and all of that new knowledge has been poured into this relaunch of the book. It is priced at $5.99 AUD on the Australian Amazon store, and at comparable prices in the other Amazon stores around the world. However (as I also mentioned in my last post), I will be doing a free-for-a-limited-time promotion in the near future, which I will announce here on the blog, and on the HowToWinGameShows Twitter feed and the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page too.

In the meantime, if you’d like to sample the book, I’d suggest heading over to Amazon and clicking on the “Look inside” tab just above the cover image. That’ll give you a look at the first three chapters.

You can also grab a free bonus chapter of the book (16 pages) which organises some great tips show by show, if you join my new author mailing list. You can see the signup form on this page, just over to the right.

Thanks to all the wonderful people who’ve bought the book, those who’ve left reviews over on Amazon, and everyone who helped me bring it into existence.

Next time, we’ll be back to business as usual here at the blog… with my first EXCLUSIVE interview for 2019!

Until then, then!

 

‘How To Win Game Shows: The eBook’ is about to be relaunched, and it’ll be FREE for a limited time!

Hello!

I have some exciting news to share with you today, which will be the culmination of quite a lot of work I’ve been doing behind the scenes…

But first, please come back with me, to September 2015, when I wrote and released How To Win Game Shows: the eBook.

It wasn’t just a collection of some of the best interviews from this site, along with my personal game show story; it also contained a number of new chapters that I wrote specifically for the book, along with new pictures, a lot of gags and numerous links to various videos.

I got myself an account at an online store – e-junkie.com – uploaded my book to it (in pdf format), and made it available to buy through this page, right here on the blog. I plugged the eBook here, I plugged it on Facebook and Twitter, I plugged it on radio, I plugged it on radio again, I plugged it on TV, and I experimented with a couple of different price points for the product.

Just between you and me, I did not sell many copies.

At all.

I now know that wasn’t the best way to do things. Doing what I did is not how you properly self-publish and promote an eBook.

Over the last few months, I’ve been on a mission to learn all I can about self-publishing the right way, as I prepare to release my second eBook – my behind-the-scenes diary of my year as Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers Live. 

But all of my research into self-publishing – the courses I’ve taken, the books I’ve read, the podcasts I’ve listened to, the videos I’ve watched and the forums (fora?) I’ve joined – has made me realise all the things I did wrong with How To Win Game Shows: the eBook the first time around.

So, dear reader, I’m revisiting it… and this time, I’m going to do it right.

How To Win Game Shows: The eBook (3rd edition)

  • will be available on Amazon, in proper eBook format.
  • has been updated and expanded
  • has been reformatted, to flow more smoothly
  • has been re-edited and re-proofread
  • will be significantly more affordable… in fact, for a limited promotional period (which I’ll obviously let you know about), I’m even going to make it FREE! 

The relaunch will be happening in the next couple of weeks, so keep watching this space for more details. Or, if you’d like a more personal heads-up, please consider joining my new mailing list, which I’ve set up especially for the eBook side of things. Please just email me at author@TheStephenHall.com, and I’ll add you to the list right away.

And all you wonderful people who’ve already bought the book will of course be getting your free 3rd edition copy, as per the terms of my “future-proofing” guarantee.

Thank you, as always, for your interest and support. I’m really excited, and I can’t wait to get the new and improved version of the book out there, and into the hands of (or at least onto the devices of) as many people as possible!

I’ll keep you posted!

 

 

 

‘The ConTest’ – Part 2 of 2

Hello, Happy New Year and welcome to the first official post for 2019! And this week, it’s the conclusion of my Patented How To Win Game Shows Reminiscence about my time working on The ConTest in late 2006. 

When I left off last time (which was also last year, as it happens), I’d mentioned that the whole writing process was done remotely, and I’d had exactly zero contact with the show’s two presenters – Andrew G and Brigitte Duclos. And, as I suspected, this would not prove to be ideal…

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In the example episode of the show that I’ve put up on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page, at the very end, you can see Andrew G having a mild dig at the sign-off I’d written for him “…and that rhymes, so you know it must be true”….

* SIGH * You’re welcome, Andrew. I’d have happily written him something he preferred, had I been given the opportunity. Having said that, it can be tricky reinventing the wheel each week; trying to come up with a catchy (but not repetitive) phrase, in the show’s specific language, to use as a sign-off. In fact, in case you’re interested, here are some of the other “same-but-different” parting words that I wrote:

  • We look forward to seeing you next time, when we’ll Test another six people, to see whose encyclopaedic intellect and enigmatic intentions can score them a guaranteed $50,000, right here on The ConTestGoodnight!
  • We look forward to seeing you next time, when we’ll Test another 6 people, to see whose quick-witted quizzing, brilliant bluffing and successful scheming can score them a guaranteed $50,000, right here on The ConTestGoodnight!
  • We look forward to seeing you next time on The ConTest, where every question we ask is a “Multiple Choice”, and everything the contestants say is a “True or False”! Goodnight! 
  • We look forward to seeing you again soon, here on The ConTest – the $50,000 quiz, where the Superior Players have Ulterior Motives… Goodnight!

At least I managed to score an onscreen credit at the end of the show (which is something you don’t always get). If you’re VERY eagle-eyed, you can spot my rather squashed name at the 43:36 mark, for about half a second, just beneath the names of the three directors’ assistants;

The ConTest went to air in 2007, from February 7th – April 11th, and due to rather average ratings, it was not renewed for a second season. Cést La Vie. I think this was indicative of how people’s taste in game shows had changed by then. The concept of The ConTest depended on people lying to each other, deceiving each other, cheating each other and generally being a bit mean to each other. It came along in the wake of a number of shows of that ilk; The Weakest Link and Shafted* being just two examples. I think the fact that viewers largely rejected the show said something reassuring about the public; that they didn’t see people deceiving each other for money as being great entertainment. I must admit, when watching the show, I often found myself feeling not especially proud of all the deception, conniving and lying we were enabling… It is a slightly unpalatable fact that sometimes game shows aren’t all sweetness and light.  

I’d like to think that the type of game show that rewards deception, conniving and cheating is a thing of the past. We can but hope.

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* For which I also wrote, back in 2002. Sorry everyone. And that also not-always-pleasant-experience will be the subject of an another upcoming PatentedHowToWinGameShowReminiscence post here soon….