EXCLUSIVE interview with game show host Ed Phillips – Part I

ed_phillips4This week I’m thrilled to present Part I of my exclusive interview with Australian game show legend Ed Phillips.

As the host of Pot of Gold, Battle of The Sexes, and of course Temptation, Ed had loads of fascinating insights to offer from his time “behind the podium”. It was also interesting to hear his impressions of being in the contestant’s chair too, after his appearances on celebrity special episodes of Temptation and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

It really was a great chat, and so now… here it is!


SH: Ed Phillips, welcome to www.howtowingameshows.com, it’s great to have you here.

EP: Thank you, Hally. Or may I address you by your official title…. Grand Champion?

SH: You may, you may, thank you very much. No one does that anymore. Firstly, you hosted Pot of Gold, the talent contest show in the mid-90s. How did that show compare to the TV talent contests of today?

EP: Oh Lordy, how do I compare them? It was far less polished. We had everything from Young Talent Time tap dancing schoolkids, to old buskers in their seventies doing stand-up comedy. It was like the worst low-budget version of Australia’s Got Talent you could want!

SH: This was around 1994, I think?

EP: That’s right. It also had that element where there were “The Wannabes”; four people got on stage for 30 seconds each. There was a buzzer and the crowd decided which of the four was the best. They got to come back at the end of the night and do their full two-minute routine, hoping for a shot at stardom.

SH: Wow, that is rough. That’s gladiatorial. Were there any big discoveries on that show that we might know today? Any big names? Apart from yourself, of course.

EP: I can tell you categorically… No. 

SH: (LAUGHING) Right. And how long did that show go for?

EP: That was a massive 50 episodes. Ironically it was in the summer, at 7 PM, filling in for Sale Of The Century, when Glenn Ridge hosted it.

SH: Wow, how about that? And years later you would be in there, at 7 PM, hosting Temptation (the reboot of Sale of The Century)!

EP: The ultimate white-ant manoeuvre.

SH: (LAUGHING) It’s a very ‘slow burn’ manoeuvre, but there you go. Then in 1998 you hosted Battle Of The Sexes. For those who don’t know, could you briefly describe its format?

EP: That was a team of two guys versus a team of two girls; a celeb in each one and a punter. And the questions were gender-based. So you might ask a team of guys “I just hit my drive onto the green; what’s the next club I would take?” The fellas would probably all say “you get your putter”. The girls, who perhaps might not be so into sport, would not even know what you’re even talking about. So if we pitched that question to the guys, they would get 5 points. If the girls stole the points, they would get double. If the next question was “you are wearing some gingham; what’s that pattern?”, the guys would have no idea and the girls would jump in. So you had to question your own sexuality as you hit the buzzer, and out yourself as a real metro-sexual, or lose the game.

SH: (LAUGHING) There’s a lot more than meets the eye to that one!

EP: It was very light-hearted.

SH: Were there differences in the way women and men played the game? I’m wondering if the men were more aggressive, or were there any other things that surprised you about the way they approached the game?

EP: I think it was more the celebs that were obviously outgoing. If they didn’t have a correct answer, they’d still throw in something funny. So I think it was more in a light-hearted vein; they weren’t playing for half a million dollars of gold bullion, like yourself. There wasn’t much science in it.

SH: Do you remember who won more often, the men or the women?

EP: Yes, we used to keep score each night. In fact, we had three seasons, we went through 160 odd episodes. So we had a tally at the end of each night and at the end of each week. I think it was only 2 seasons to 1 in the end. Nothing scientific in it – nothing to take to the scientific journals.

SH: (LAUGHING) Okay, that’s good – I’ll just cancel that email.


And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. In the next part of the interview, Ed gets into the Temptation years, and the “science” of the game: the techniques used by the most successful contestants, as well as a peek behind the scenes of how the show was actually made each week. All that and more, right here, next week!

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