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….

Happy New Year, from HowToWinGameShows.com!

Hello and WELCOME, 2019!!!

As another year ticks over, and we take stock of the last twelve months, and make plans for the next twelve, I hope that 2018 was full of fun, happiness and laughter for you. I hope you continued your love affair with game shows, enjoying watching them, playing along with them at home, and maybe even appearing on one (or more!)

And if you’re an aspiring game show contestant, but haven’t quite got there yet, then I sincerely hope that 2019 will be the year when you MAKE IT HAPPEN! And if WHEN you do, I sincerely hope that you’re able to find some handy tips in these pages, to help you have a fantastic, fun, and profitable time competing on it.

I’ve got all sorts of interesting – and hopefully helpful – content lined up for you here on the blog in 2019, but as always, I’d love any suggestions you may have.

Please do feel free to contact me in either the comments section below, or via email (Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com), Facebook or Twitter

Thank you, as always, for your continued support, and as Yoda says, NEW YEAR HAPPY, EVERYONE!

 

Merry Christmas, from HowToWinGameShows.com!

Hello! Just a quick one this week, to wish you and your loved ones the happiest, safest and most fun Christmas that could ever be imagined!

Thank you so much for your support of HowToWinGameShows.com in 2018. I hope that your game show adventures this year were all you wished for.

As we move into 2019, I have loads more exclusive content planned for you, but for now, please allow me to wish you, once again…

Season’s Greetings,

Joyeux Noel,

Frohliche Weihnachten and

Feliz Navidad.

Tidings of comfort and joy.

Stephen.

‘The ConTest’ – Part 1 of 2

Hello!

Today, I begin my latest Patented How To Win Game Shows Reminiscence, and this time it’s about an oft-forgotten game show from 2007 here in Australia – The ConTest. This was a show where contestants didn’t necessarily need to know any of the answers to the questions being asked; in this format, their bluffing skills were far more important. If you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show, I’ve put a sample episode up here, on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page.

Maybe you’d like to go and have a look at that. Or maybe you’d like to dive right in. If it’s the latter, then read on, dear reader, read on…

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It was late 2006 when my manager at the time got in touch with me regarding a work opportunity; it seemed there was going to be an Australian version of Ant & Dec’s recent UK game show PokerFace, and they were looking for someone to write the scripts – and questions, if possible – for this local version. I went and met the producer Asif Zubairy (who was a great producer, and a lovely man as well), we had a chat, and I got the gig. 

In working on an adaptation such as this, a lot of the groundwork has already been done. We had access to all the scripts of the original UK version, along with all the questions, and all the tapes of the show so far. The Australian version was to be virtually a carbon copy of the original (albeit with a different title), so my brief was pretty much to make it “the-same-but-different”. This required replacing all of the questions, adding a lot of local references into the scripts and making the banter comfortable for the show’s two hosts: Andrew G (now known as Osher Gunsberg) and Brigitte Duclos

The show was to be an hour long, and 10 episodes had been commissioned, initially. Each of those 10 scripts would need to include 38 questions, broken down like this;

ROUND ONE

8 X hard questions

ROUND TWO

5 X easy questions

ROUND THREE

5 X easy questions

ROUND FOUR

5 X medium questions

ROUND FIVE

5 X hard questions

SPARE ROUND

5 X hard questions + 5 X easy questions

So that’s 380 questions in total.

Oh, and I also had to write a rehearsal episode script and supply 38 questions for that. So that’s 11 scripts and 418 questions, after all. Not counting questions that I would be called upon to replace, moving forward, for whatever reason.

The first thing I did was trawl through all my databases of old trivia questions on my computer. I’d been writing and running pub trivia for years, and so I had quite a few old standard questions which always worked – they were interesting, they were entertaining, and the passage of time hadn’t hurt them. After I’d selected – and in some cases re-jigged – a good number of these, I then started writing questions from the news of the day; going through newspapers, and getting up to speed with what was going on in pop culture at the time. Asif, and the network, would give me notes about the questions; these “Easy” ones are too hard, these “Hard” ones are too easy, these ones aren’t appropriate, these ones aren’t interesting enough, and so on and so on. I then had to tweak these questions, or come up with replacements that they were happy with.  

Here’s my delivery schedule, and the record dates: 

  • Deliver 76 X questions and scripts for Eps 1 & 2 by close of business Wednesday 29/11/06
  • Deliver 76 X questions and scripts for Eps 3 & 4 by COB Friday 01/12/06
  • Deliver 76 X questions and scripts for Eps 5 & 6 by COB Wednesday 06/12/06
  • Deliver 76 X questions and scriptfor Eps 7 & 8 by COB Friday 08/12/06
  • Deliver 76 X questions and scripts for Eps 9 & 10 by COB Wednesday 13/12/06

 

  • Rehearsal in studio in Sydney – Wednesday 13/12/06
  • Rehearsal in studio in Sydney – Thursday 14/12/06
  • Record Episode 1 in studio in Sydney – Friday 15/12/06
  • Record Episodes 2 & 3 in studio in Sydney – Sunday 17/12/06
  • Record Episode 4 in studio in Sydney – Monday 18/12/06
  • Record Episode 5 in studio in Sydney – Tuesday 19/12/06
  • Record Episode 6 in studio in Sydney – Friday 22/12/06
  • Record Episode 7 in studio in Sydney – Friday 05/01/07
  • Record Episodes 8 & 9 in studio in Sydney – Saturday 06/01/07
  • Record Episode 10 in studio in Sydney – Monday 08/01/07

My main recollection of writing The ConTest is that it was all done remotely. I was living in Melbourne at the time, the show was being made in Sydney, and my involvement didn’t extend beyond phone calls and emails to Asif. I was never present at the studio for any of the rehearsals or records, and I had no contact with either Andrew or Brigitte. I don’t recall ever getting any feedback on whether they were happy with the words I was writing for them to say. Feedback would have been handy, though; I’d have liked to have had the opportunity to tweak it more to their taste. I always think TV presenters appear more comfortable and confident when they’ve had input into what they’re saying on camera. I also remember this period as a very busy time; the workload and deadlines ended up being a bit tricky to meet, since I was also fitting this commitment in around my shooting dates for The King. 

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And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. When I return with Part 2, in the new year, I’ll discuss feedback from presenters, show some snippets from the scripts, and look at the general game show trends at the time. Until then, then!

 

This week’s post is completely relevant, and absolutely on topic. Mostly.

Hello!

Look, I get it. At first glance, this week’s post may look like some shameless self-promotion for something that has nothing to do with winning game shows.

I mean, yes, okay – I was one of Sam Petersen’s guests this week on his most excellent podcast Confessions Of The Idiots.

If you haven’t heard it, Confessions of The Idiots is about….. well, some confessions of some idiots. Each week, Sam invites a couple of comedians / actors / interesting people to examine, dissect and give advice on some confessions that have been posted online. It’s a great idea, that Sam executes beautifully, and he’s also nabbed some great guests in previous episodes.

Anyway, in this week’s episode, Sam paired me up with the brilliant young comedian Dave Warneke who – I think it’s fair to say – also has quite an interest in game shows, and we looked at the latest confessions that Sam had unearthed from his treasure trove.

BUT (and here’s the thing)… before we got to the ‘Confessions’ part of the show, both Sam and Dave* were quite curious to hear about various game show adventures of mine. So, for the first 17 minutes or so of this podcast, that’s what most of the chat is about. (There are even a few game show winning tips in there). So, if you don’t have the time to go back through the HowToWinGameShows.com archives to find the “official” versions of these stories (which are here and here, by the way) you can just listen to the first 17 minutes of this podcast!

I would recommend staying till the end, though… just because I think it’s kinda fun! But I should point out, there is some M-rated language. But not much.

So there’s my tip – download and listen to this week’s episode of Confessions of the Idiots, for some handy bite-sized game show advice, followed by some pretty funny and bizarre confessions talk. And once you’ve listened to that, why not try some others in the series? I must admit, I’m quite a fan; it’s given me quite a few Laugh Out Loud moments. And I never laugh at anything.

Until next time!

* Not THIS Sam & Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

… Just to be clear.

More on Martin’s ‘Millionaire’ moments…

Just a bit of an update today, on one of the first ever Game Show Winner interviews I did for this site!

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Back in August 2013, I interviewed Australia’s first ever Who Wants To Be A Millionaire millionaire, Martin Flood. Martin gave me a very detailed and thorough account of his whole WWTBAM adventure, covering all his preparation, the homework he did, the tactics he employed, the mental exercises he did, and the methods he used to keep the right attitude…. which culminated in him winning the ultimate prize – $1,000,000! The interview ran over 9 instalments, and I think it’s ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL READING for anyone contemplating going on that particular show.

Martin got in touch with me recently to let me know that somebody has now uploaded his two episodes to YouTube. So you can watch them right now, by clicking on the image below…

BUT I’d suggest reading my interview with Martin alongside watching the episodes on YouTube… that way, you can see (and hear) the exact moments from the show that Martin describes in the interview, as he describes them. A fully immersive HowToWinGameShows multimedia experience!

So, here are the links to my interview with Martin:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

And once more, here’s the link to his two episodes on YouTube….

And while we’re on the subject of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, you might also be interested to visit (or re-visit) my exclusive interview with the show’s Executive Producer Steve Gilbert. You can find that right here.

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… And that’s it for this week! And while we’re on this subject, if you’re an aspiring Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestant – or a former Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestant – please do drop me a line, and let me know how your WWTBAM experience compares to Martin’s!

Until next time! 

 

Talkin’ ‘Bout Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation – Part V

Hello and welcome to the fifth and final instalment of my recollections of the original incarnation of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation (2009 – 2012).

I thought I’d round out this series with a few random memories, interspersed with some Interesting* Facts**. So here goes….

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One very strong memory from my time writing on the show was of my often standing on the sidelines, feeling frustrated. During record days, as I watched the games unfold, time and time again I’d find myself biting my tongue. Not just as a trivia buff and quiz enthusiast; “How can you NOT know that answer!? That’s such an easy question!?”… but also as a comedy writer and performer; “How can you not go for that gag?! Come on! We set that up for you!!!”  Not that I wanted to be out there on one of the teams… I was just repeatedly staggered by the players’ woeful general knowledge, and disappointed by the joke opportunities they so frequently let slip by. I’d often have to tell myself ‘Let it go, Hally… that’s just the gig…’

INTERESTING FACT: Did you know that “pottery” would be an anagram of “poetry”, if you added an extra “T”?

Another strong memory is the expertly light touch of Executive Producer Peter Beck, who never said “Wouldn’t it be funny if…?” He always just let Shaun, Michael and I write the comedy, never butting in with editorial suggestions. In the past, I’ve worked with some desperately unfunny producers who – despite their total lack of comedy qualifications – feel entitled to make inane suggestion after inane suggestion for the show’s comedy content. Peter Beck was the opposite of that. I’m now working for him again, on Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, and his cheerful, can-do, hands-off-the-comedy approach has also contributed mightily to this show’s success. Grazie Pietro!

INTERESTING FACT: One of the earliest known murals – in the Chauvet Cave in France – is still clearly visible after 32 000 years. And they didn’t even use an undercoat.

I remember the show was successful enough to spawn various items of merchandise, including a board game (which I wrote quite a few questions, and other bits and pieces for)…

An interactive DVD game….

And Michael Ward’s brilliant book; The Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation Book of Everything Ever…

… which is a fantastically funny read, and I recommend that you buy it immediately.

INTERESTING FACT: The stubble on a man’s face known as “five o’clock shadow” can actually appear at any time between 4:15 and 5:30.

My next memory is more personal. Between the third and fourth seasons, I moved to Sydney. The show was still being made in Melbourne, so for a few months, I flew myself down and back each week, staying three nights a week in Melbourne at my Mum’s. I have very fond memories of those times – sitting up late, chatting and watching Bing Crosby & Bob Hope’s Road To… movies with Mum on the nights when I was staying at her place. It was very different to the rest of my domestic life back in Sydney (with my wife and young daughter), but a lot of fun, and I know it made Mum very happy to have me back in the family home again. Of course, I couldn’t have known that she’d be gone just 2 years later. I have TAYG to thank for that precious time with Mum.

INTERESTING FACT: “Bones” was the nickname of Dr McCoy on the 60s TV series Star Trek. The nickname of Captain Kirk was, of course, “Daryl”.

The show finished its first run in 2012 after 80 episodes… but was then revived this year, on a different network! The new version again featured Shaun as its host, but the 3 generations were updated. The Baby Boomers were gone, and the 3 generations for the 2018 version were Generation X, Gen Y and Gen Z. It’s a great reboot; every bit as fun and entertaining as it was the first time round. The team captains are Robyn Butler and Andy Lee (who were both guest players in the original version of the show) and the young actor Laurence Boxhall, who’s quite a discovery. I was invited to work on the new version, but was sadly unavailable, as I had an acting gig at the time (Brigadoon). Otherwise, I would have done it all again in a heartbeat.

INTERESTING FACT:  It’s well known that George Clooney once had a pet pig called Max. But did you know he also has a pet mosquito called Ronald?

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And that’s it for my 5-part TAYG series. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any memories of this show, please do feel free to share them in the ‘Comments’ section below. See you next time, with

* May not technically be interesting.

** May not technically be a fact, either.