So I’m sitting in the studio audience in the record of Temptation on Wednesday 27th July, 2005.

As mentioned earlier, the production schedule was to tape 5 shows (Monday to Friday) in one day. On this occasion, I was called up on Tuesday’s show (the second show recorded on the day). As I settled in to the challenger’s chair, I think it’s fair to say I had a slight sense of deja vu…

3 appearances on the show

I understood that Monday night’s winner was a carry over champion, having won at least one game the previous week. So when I went up against him on Tuesday night’s show, I was competing against a seasoned and very confident carry over champ.

I think he was surprised at how quick I was. (perhaps he’d had a relatively easy run, until then?) but Tuesday night’s game was a real battle. In the end, I won with a score of $75, beating the champ by $25.

The following night’s show was a real confidence booster: I finished the game with a score of $130, while my competitors ended on $40 and $45. This was a real turning point. I’d found my stride, and everybody knew it. (Remember: the contestants who hadn’t been on yet were watching from the studio audience). I remember one gentleman saying to the contestant co-ordinator, when he found out that he’d be up against me: “Well that’s that, then. Do you know how long I’ve been waiting to get on this show, and now you put me up against him? Thanks a lot!” The defeatism in his voice sent me a very clear message: he was not going to be a threat to me out there – he had already convinced himself that he would lose. My hunch proved correct.

l was also interested to hear another soon-to-be-contestant say “Well, it’s all just a bit of fun really, isn’t it? It’s general knowledge – it’s not as though you can study for it…” I hoped I’d be up against her, because I knew I would beat her. She didn’t care if she lost, so she wouldn’t be trying to win. 

It pays to listen carefully to your opponents, because  they reveal more about themselves than they realise.

On Thursday I had another convincing win ($65 clear of my nearest competitor) and on Friday night’s show, I finished $40 ahead of the nearest runner-up. My strategy of focussing on the Grand Prize at all costs seemed to be paying off. I wasn’t tempted to buy from the Gift Shop along the way, I wasn’t tempted to gamble on the Temptation Vault, I wasn’t tempted to take the quick cash prize on the Fame Game*, if any of these things would reduce my score (and lead).

I did have 2 techniques that I kept putting into play during these 4 nights.

  • Firstly, whenever I was in the lead, and I had the opportunity to “buy” a prize from the Gift Shop (costing me some of my score) I’d always ask host Ed Phillips “Sorry – how far ahead am I, Ed?” He’d tell me, try to convince me to buy the prize, repeating how I could afford it and how far ahead I was, and I’d very politely say “thank you, but not this time”.

  • I wasn’t asking how far ahead I was so that I’d know (I knew already), but so that both of my competitors would know, and so be reminded of how far behind they were. Then, when I didn’t buy, it would reinforce how big my lead was, and make the task ahead of them seem that little bit more daunting.

  • And secondly, whenever one of my competitors said “Oh come on, you’ve gotta let me get at least one or two… or at least a crack at the Fame Game!” I’d smile and say something non-committal. These competitors (always men) were embarrassed to be seen as losers. I smiled, nodded, and didn’t give an inch. I’d done the homework, and I was here to win the lot, not to make them feel better about their inadequacies.

I was really mindful throughout all the games, of staying focussed and using all that I had learned. I made a point of focussing on the host’s mouth as he asked the questions. It helped to screen out all the other superfluous stuff going on, and the added bonus was that if I was really concentrating on reading his lips, I could sometimes get a clue as to the word(s) he might say next, and so buzz in ahead of my opponents.

And so, I had now won 4 games in a row, culminating in the program that would go to air on a Friday. If I could win the next 3 – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week – I’d be taking home over $600 000 worth of prizes, including $500 000 in gold bullion.

The viewers at home would have to wait a couple of days to find out. But from my perspective, the next Temptation record was 2 whole weeks away (Wednesday 10th August). I had 13 days and nights in which I had to try and convince myself to “Relax! Keep calm, and try to think about something else – it’s no big deal!”

Yeah. Good luck with that, Stephen.



* For an explanation of these elements of the game’s format, see:



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