This week, my exclusive interview with Australia’s first Who Wants To Be A Millionaire millionaire concludes. And I kicked off this part of the interview by asking Rob about the aftermath of his history-making win…
SH: How did you handle the publicity, the spotlight?
RF: Hmmm. Publicity was not my strong suit; I’m actually a pretty shy person. Having said that, I did all the publicity that was asked of me. I’m sure there was something like 20-30 interviews for TV, Radio and print media over the following couple of days. I must say it was quite exhausting. Not having any media training didn’t help; I think I gave the exact same interview to all of the different radio stations.
SH: How did The Big Win change your life?
RF: The win allowed us to buy a house, travel the world, have a lovely wedding and honeymoon, still leaving enough left over to be comfortable. What more can I say except that it was a nice way to kick off a relationship. Now we are happily married with 2 lovely
SH: What tips or hints would you have for anyone thinking of applying to be a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
RF: I am a big fan of writing lists. Try and prepare with things like World Capitals, Melbourne Cup winners, Prime Ministers, Monarchs of England and Great Britain, US Presidents – whatever takes your fancy to begin with. You’ll soon find that you’ll be a valuable member of your pub trivia team, which might inspire you to do even more study. Whether you go on to achieve success on a quiz show is really a mix of luck and preparation. Regardless of the outcome, the worst thing that could happen through your study is that you’ve learnt a little bit more about the world you live in. Now that can’t be a bad thing!
SH: And finally Rob, I have to ask you about that all-important million-dollar question:
(Which of these popular ’60s TV shows premiered first? A Bewitched B Get Smart C Hogan’s Heroes or D I Dream of Jeannie). Aspiring Millionaire contestants could learn a lot from your response, which you can see on YouTube here, at the 22-minute mark. It’s a textbook example of talking through the options, and doing the process of elimination and deduction out loud. But when the question and its options were revealed to you, what was your absolute first gut reaction? And how did you manage to keep your head and handle the pressure, as you talked through the options?
RF: Firstly, let me say that when we were briefed during the rehearsals the production team tried to impress upon you that, where you can, you try and verbalise what you’re thinking. This obviously lets the TV audience in on your thought process and avoids “dead air”. I was quite fortunate that this was the long format of the game. You actually had time to really think through the answers. The time limit of the new format doesn’t allow for much navel-gazing. So getting back to the question, my first reaction was that – even though I wasn’t completely aware of the answer – I might be able to elicit clues from the intros of individual shows. As the time passed, I worked out in my mind that I could narrow it down to 2 options; Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie. Get Smart seemed like it was made in the mid-to-late 60’s, and I’d remembered a story that my mother had told me about John Banner (Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes) nursing me as a child while on a promotional tour of Australia. He had paid a visit to Camperdown Children’s Hospital where I had been a patient. That was in 1969. So in my mind, Hogan’s Heroes was shown in the mid-to-late 60’s as well. Flawed logic perhaps, but that’s all I could think of. In the intro to I Dream of Jeannie, Tony Nelson’s one-man space capsule lands on the beach of a deserted island where he happens upon Jeannie’s bottle. I reasoned that the US Mercury Space Program, the only one to have a single astronaut occupant, occurred between 1961-1963. I Dream of Jeannie seemed to me to be around 1963. I eventually settled on Bewitched purely because I thought that the décor of the furniture and perhaps the fashion involved was (in my estimation) late 50’s spilling over to the 1960’s. Locked in now, and no turning back. Eddie revealed the answer, along with the detail that they had all premiered within a year of each other (Bewitched in September 1964 – I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart and Hogan’s Heroes all in September 1965). In hindsight, maybe I should have taken the previous cheque that was offered. To me though, because I had ruled out 2 answers, it was a 50/50 bet for a Million Dollars. A coin toss. How many times to you get that opportunity?
SH: Well, yes. Never, really. Thanks so much again for your time today, Rob.
I’m very grateful to Rob for his time, and very happy for him too. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke. And just a reminder that all of the questions from Rob’s game on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire are still over at the howtowingameshows Facebook page, if you feel like tackling them, to see if you’d have fared as well as Rob did….
Until next time!