This week, my interview with Michael Pope – in his capacity as producer of The Price Is Right – continues, as I ask him for more any more tips he might have…
MP: What I was going to say is the tip to win at Price Is Right is look at the audience. “Here’s a TV, and it’s one thousand eight hundred and what?” You, as a player, might have an opinion. And that’s really good. But the show has been built for you to have 100 people’s opinions! Look at that audience and you get a vibe that everybody is saying “99”, not “78”… so if you want to win at Price Is Right, it is not a solo game. It is very much you and the audience are trying to win. And that’s the biggest tip. And we say that during the recording; that’s no secret. Also people need to remember that the makers of the TV show want people to win. People come along and say “it’s too hard, it’s too hard”. No, the producers have budgeted the show in the way that they have so that they get winners, because what we haven’t talked about all morning is luck. There is still a hell of a lot of luck in all of these shows we’ve talked about. Millionaire – the one that stands out is that a woman won – 100 000, I think? – on a question “this man’s name is famous for which of these 4 areas of endeavour?” The night before, her daughter went to primary school and they named a hall in their school after this man. But what’s the chance? It was an obscure name. But just by chance, her daughter lived at the school that named it just the day before. So it’s that kind of luck… On Price Is Right, the luck comes in… maybe you were shopping at ‘Freedom’ two weeks before, and you saw that particular couch, so you know that it’s a $2000 and not a $1000 couch. It’s those sort of bits of luck. Deal Or No Deal obviously has a hell of a lot of luck about it.
SH: Yeah, perhaps more than any other show.
MP: Indeed, indeed. And Bert’s Family Feud; less luck… it‘s more in tune with the population. But again – talking about that guy who had a very narrow life – if you were a person who was really into dogs, and you got the “give me the most popular dog name” – Bang! You’re a shoo-in. Luck is an important thing to impress on people. So when people get miffy and say “oh no one ever wins on that show” or “we weren’t able to win”, you’ll probably find that luck’s against them. Because the producers want people to win, they work out a ratio of “we expect to give away so many cars over so many episodes” and it’s luck that is really driving that thing.
SH: Basically in The Price Is Right, it’s like the Millionaire lifeline of ‘Ask The Audience’; the whole show is ‘Ask The Audience’!
MP: The whole show. Even the showcase at the end where you put 7 things in order; you’re a mad person who doesn’t look to the audience and see that most of them are holding up the figure “3”… and you can see – if you watch old episodes – you can see where the people’s focus is. And also they look to their friend – their partner in the crowd – too much. And that’s about guilt. That’s about “it’s you and I are gonna win this. But if I don’t win it, then I can blame you, because you said ‘4’.” I would ignore the friend I came with, and just treat them like one of a hundred people, and take in the whole room, not just your partner.
SH: Does that come into play in Family Feud at all?
MP: No. Absolute silence. Because they are the 100 people. And if you listen to them, they would be yelling out the answers.
SH: But are their surveys used in that particular show?
MP: No, it probably takes 2 months to turn around between an audience member being asked a question, and then doing it. And so some people would say “But what if I turn up on the show and you use my question?” Well, you don’t know the answers; you just have heard of a question before and you gave your one answer. That’s not the same as knowing the top answer to the question.
SH: No, because you’re one of a hundred people.
MP: That’s right.
… and that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. The next stop on our journey through Michael’s multi-faceted career is his long involvement with How To Be A Millionaire.
What will he have to say on that subject? Check back in next week to find out!