EXCLUSIVE interview with game show host Ed Phillips – Part VI

ed_phillips4This week, my exclusive interview with Aussie game show legend Ed Phillips wraps up, as I ask him his three most important tips for would-be game show contestants, and get his thoughts on The Very Future Of The Game Show Itself….


SH: What do you see as the future of game shows or quiz shows? We don’t seem to have many happening at the moment.

EP: Well, Deal Or No Deal had a great run. Million Dollar Minute – which is just a Temptation ripoff anyway – is back. Millionaire Hot Seat is strong as ever, now they are bringing back Family Feud. The three main networks – 7, 9 and 10 – have all been hamstrung by output deals for the last 2 years with Warner Brothers, Disney and CBS. So once that has expired, that’ll free up tens and tens of millions of dollars in budget so there will be new shows trialled, I think.

SH: Can you explain what you mean by “hamstrung by output deals”?

EP: Ok. Say Channel 9 for instance have a deal with Warner. I believe it’s 150 million dollars. For that, Warner would provide them exclusive access to things; the format to The Voice, Big Bang Theory, several movies, that sort of thing. Big Bang really only gives them a dozen or so new shows each year because they make so few, but it gets them all the back catalogue to play as many times as they like.

SH: And they sure do.

EP: Yeah. The Block cost them 10 – 20 million dollars to do a couple of series, The Voice costs them 40 or 50 million dollars, which includes The Kids’ Voice version as well; paying all the stars. But once those deals expire, they’re set to be renegotiated. So they will crunch those down by a factor of ten, and free up a lot of money for local production. Because you’re right – there’s literally been no local production in new shows, where they would once try something out for 6 or 10 episodes and see how it goes. They have all been running very lean. So Seven has been tied to Disney, Channel 10 has been tied to its American output deal. Once they all expire at the end of this year, there’ll be more money freed up for more projects – just to give them a trial, and see how they go.

SH: That’s interesting.

EP: There could be some new ones – that they haven’t even thought of – coming out. It could be revamping of many more old faves again. Because they won’t have to pay so much money for those, so they can give them a go.

SH: Yes, and try something even… (dare I say it?)… NEW!

EP: Whoo-hoo! Because as you’d know, there are hardly any great new formats of shows. The old ones are like old family favourites, tried and tested… and it is so hard to break in a new one that’s cool.

SH: That’s true.

EP: And of course everyone wants the added element of ‘can we play along at home’? Can we have an app running at the same time and test ourselves against a champ? Can we vote a champ off? Can we join in, if we missed the start of the show? Can we join in half-way through and play? Can we win prizes at home? Everyone wants this amazing multi-layered experience, that you didn’t get on Wheel of Fortune, when the wheel was just spinning around, watching it at home.

SH: It’s a different landscape now.

EP: Yeah.

SH: Ed, Thank you so much for chatting today. In closing, what would you say are the three most important things for someone to know if they want to be a contestant on a game show? I think you have covered some of the things earlier on. 

EP: In no particular order… I would say bring a nice selection of clothes – or one really zany outfit – because you might shoot several episodes in a day. Choose your niche. Think of a Family Feud thing; the questions are sort of dumbed down; “Name two things that go “quack”. There’s only a handful of answers, but remember they surveyed 100 muppets to get these answers. So it’s not a genius who’s written the answer to this. But for Millionaire, there is only one answer. If it’s a fun sort of quiz show, it might be all about celebrity stuff or a rock quiz or something like that. And if you know your niche with your music, then that’s the sort of show you need to try and get on, to go really well. What’s that amazing one in the UK; The Chaser?

SH: Yes, I know the one you mean.

EP: Where there’s an absolute Grand Champ, there’s a handful of them and you have to go and try to beat “The Chaser”. They are hard questions and the Chaser champs are really smart and fast. So you’ve gotta be great to beat the Chaser guy and make your money. If you’re not ‘world smart’, perhaps that’s not for you, but if you’re ‘street smart’ and you know all your Kardashian sisters, then pick your show that has those kind of showbizzy kind of questions.

SH: So, Horses for Courses.

EP: Exactly. Or go on Deal Or No Deal. If you can pick a number between one and twenty-six, then you can get onto Deal No Deal. Because that’s not hard.

SH: (LAUGHING) If you can count to 26… you’re in! Ed, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me this morning. It’s been fantastic.

EP: Great pleasure, Hally!


I’d like to thank Ed so much again for giving me so much of his time, and remember; if you’re interested in following him on Twitter, here he is.

For my next exclusive interview, I’ll be jumping back to the other side of the podium, as I chat to one of the true champion contestants of the Australian game show landscape. No names just yet, no spoiler alerts – to find out who it is, you’ll just have to join us back here at www.howtowingameshows.com !

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