My interview with Blair Martin continues this week, as Blair opens up this instalment with his thoughts on how we Australians (sadly) often regard those amongst us who put ourselves on the line, take a risk and ‘have a go’….
BM: With Jeopardy!, I remember looking back at some of the footage and I’m thinking “God, you can be a smug bastard”. Something came up; “who was Moses’ brother?” In Jeopardy!, it’s phrased as an answer and you have to give it as a question. The look on my face was like “Oh really? How easy is this?” I just gave this nice answer* and Tony Barber was quite impressed. He said, “My goodness, your knowledge is really broad. It’s phenomenal.” I was like “Yeah, you know”…
Although I did try not to come across as too ‘up yourself’, because coming from a very middle class background, provincial city in the middle of Queensland… that very Australian thing; we cut the tall poppy down. And I was always bullied at primary school, and then I went to high school and the same thing happened there. Because I was the one doing school musicals and was the library monitor, and all that. And you know, you’re not a real person, are you? You’re something like a strange creature.
SH: You’re not a “blokey bloke”, yeah.
BM: So trying not being too up myself when I’m doing quiz programs.
SH: So Jeopardy! was 1993. You came away from that with $76,000 and a new TV?
BM: Yeah! I used that television right up until Temptation gave me another one! (LAUGHS). Who’d have known my TVs for the last 25 years would come courtesy of quiz shows?
SH: After that, had you always thought that you wanted to have another crack at quiz show competition?
BM: It has always been an interest of mine. I think the Jeopardy! experience gave me a bit of a profile. So after Jeopardy! in my work as a performer I had an opportunity to offer to clients; “if you want a quiz format for your entertainment that’s a little bit better than your pub trivia, that’s actually hosted by someone who’s actually won one of these, who likes writing these questions…” I think that the trick with writing questions is you can’t make them too hard. You can be as oblique as you like, and people will be like “that’s fascinating, but why?” You want to give people enough of an opportunity to think they can win this and that they know the answer and of course, we love hearing teams argue! When they’re giving their answer they go “I told you that was the right one!” It’s great and it adds a bit of challenge. So I was doing that, and then Who Wants to be a Millionaire appeared, and there was the Channel 7 similar version to that hosted by Frank Warrick, where you had to ring up the call number, and I never got invited to audition for either of those programs. So I really wasn’t interested. There was The Weakest Link as well. I just thought “I don’t like the format of The Weakest Link.”
SH: It’s pretty nasty, isn’t it?
BM: Even though I’ve had friends who had appeared on it, I still think it rewards mediocrity, because if you’re clever you’ll get shot down – or just used – by the less clever people and then all of a sudden they will vote you off. I just disliked it. I thought it was pretty awful. Then Temptation came along, and I thought “why not?”
SH: Did you watch Temptation from the start, in 2005?
BM: Yes and no… and I will have to say with the deepest amount of shame and regret, I never saw you on it.
SH: (LAUGHS) You don’t have to have deep shame and regret about that!
BM: I was like “Stephen Hall, the actor? I didn’t know he did that!” It’s a bit like Matt Parkinson. He did his stuff on Sale of the Century… but there was a little something else before Temptation; I was on the very first taping of The Einstein Factor. And I thought that was a tremendous program. Being ABC, there is no money in it but it was great fun and I ended up being beaten by the woman who went on to win the Einstein Factor that year, which was 2004. I did say to her “you will go on to win this”… and yes, she did. The next year, when Temptation came around, I applied. It was 2005 and I was having dinner with some friends and one of them said “I’m going up to Channel 9 tomorrow morning. I’m auditioning for Temptation.” I thought “I’ve sent them an email for that and they’ve never responded. Oh, I know how these things work, I’ll just go up”. Totally brazen! Gate-crash the audition, basically. Two weeks after that, I got an email saying “we will be back in Brisbane on such and such date in November”.
SH: “Actually, it turns out I am already there!”
SPOILER ALERT: If you hadn’t already worked it out, Blair’s gatecrashing of the Brisbane Temptation audition was a success – he did get on the show. So their November email to him was already redundant. Next week, Blair and I discuss the lead up to his Temptation experience, and what he did by way of preparation. In the meantime, you can catch up with what Blair’s up to these days at his website, or by following him on Twitter. But for now, until next week – which also happens to be next year – I’ll say goodbye, and thank you so much for all your support in 2015!
* And for those playing along at home, Moses’ brother was Aaron.