SPOILER ALERT: Not so much.
So, it’s 1999. Sale Of The Century continues to rate well on Australian TV, being a fixture of weekday schedules on Channel 9’s weekday schedule – Monday to Friday at 7:00 PM.
Here’s what the show looked like at that stage (Note: this isn’t my episode).
Since my defeat in 1994, I’d been to a couple more Sale Of The Century audition / interviews. I remember I failed the first one, not getting enough questions correct in the general knowledge section. But, I kept watching the show, and when – from time to time they advertised that they were holding contestant auditions, I’d follow that up.
So the next time I auditioned I got through, and did well in the interview In fact, I remember meeting up with the show’s contestant co-ordinator later when I went in to record the show. He told me that one of my answers to their interview questions was particularly memorable to him:
When they asked “What’s the most impressive thing about you?”, I’d answered “My future”.
So, the day of the record comes. I’m ushered in, briefed with the other contestants, and we all wait patiently in the audience, watching the show being recorded, until it’s our turn. It becomes clear that one woman – Barbara – is a real force to be reckoned with She wins game after game.
I’m called up, and I make way onto the set. I’ve been put up against Michelle (another newbie) and Barbara, this very confident carry-over champ, who is now one night away from playing for “The Lot”. A formidable opponent, indeed.
But this time, I brought my A-Game. I’d learned from my previous mistakes. The producers had put me up against a confident, comfortable champ, who’d already won the show 5 or 6 nights in a row. I was obviously there to give her a run for her money, to provide a close contest. Did they hope I’d win, and knock her off her perch? Who knows? Whatever they wanted, this is what happened….
I played well. I was confident, aggressive, I focussed on what was coming (rather than what had gone), and I was able to access my general knowledge quickly, efficiently and (relatively) fearlessly. I took the game up to Barbara, and she was well and truly rattled. But she won. By a narrow margin. As you can see from the screencap above, when we were 3 seconds from the end of the game, I was on $80, just 2 questions behind the champ, who was on $90. She did win, but her confidence had definitely been shaken. At the end of the show, host Glenn Ridge asked if she’d like to take everything she’d won so far and leave the show… or come back tomorrow night and play for The Lot. She chose to come back the next night, and play for The Lot.
On that night, she played against a contestant by the name of Maria McCabe, who defeated her. Barbara left the show with the smaller prizes she had won along the way, but none of the big ticket showcase items she’d been winning night after night. Maria McCabe then went on to win the show again and again and again. She went all the way, beating each and every challenger the show put up against her, and taking home The Lot, 6 or 7 nights later.
After my loss, and (second) walk of shame from the Sale of the Century studio, I remember going out for dinner with my mum and my girlfriend of the time. It was a pleasant – but very quiet and subdued – affair. I just couldn’t hide my massive disappointment. I kept thinking “this was not supposed to be today’s outcome”.
I’d pictured this dinner being one of Celebration, Congratulation and Champagne, not Commiseration, Condolence and a Coffee.
Even though it actually was 1999, that night we didn’t party like it was.
In time, I would get to have that celebratory post-win dinner And my mum would be there again – this time, joined by my sister.
But that evening was still 6 years away…
Note: I do have this 1999 episode of Sale Of The Century somewhere on VHS. As soon as I find it and can convert to a digital format, I’ll upload it to youtube, if you’d like to see it.