This week, as my epic interview with game show producing Living Legend Michael Whyte comes to a conclusion, we discuss the future of game shows…
and Prize Money! And what the winners can – and/or should – do with it…
MW: We had a young guy earlier on, (on Sale of The Century) he was a student and he won. I said “what are you going to do?” He said “I am doing my thesis on Bowerbirds and I am now going to spend the rest of my life doing that, because that’s what I want to do. Now I’ve got the money I can do it.” It allowed him to do exactly whatever he wanted. That was what he wanted to do.
SH: It’s always interesting to hear winners who want to use the money to follow a specific dream, rather than “Oh, I’ll just put it on the mortgage”… and they don’t get much more specific than that!
MW: Well on Millionaire Hot Seat, on the bottom of the card that we end up giving to (host) Eddie (McGuire), which says “What would you do if you won lots of money?”… I always say to them “by the end of today we’re making 6 episodes. Some of you are going to win substantial money. It will happen, and it does”. I say “What you’ve got to make sure is that you do the things you said you were going to do. And not hand money out to your friends and all of a sudden start giving to charity and doing all those sorts of things. If you wanted to go to Antarctica, if you wanted to buy that Mustang, this is what you have to do. You have to do that. Because you’ll find if you don’t, it’ll just disappear. If you do all those things, it’ll make you so much happier. It really will.
SH: Don’t be practical about it. Follow the dream. If you have the chance to follow the dream, follow the dream!
MW: Surely, take some off the mortgage, why not? But at the same time, if you wanted to buy that thing that you always thought “I could never get that” and now you can… then go and get it! Go tomorrow, and get it. Simple as that.
SH: What do you predict will be the next big trend in game shows?
MW: I think the ‘question-and-answer’ will still be the same but I think it might get to a very specific situation, almost like a Mastermind situation, where there will be “your subject is this”. And the people sitting there at home are going “how the hell do those people know about this particular thing?” That was the strength of Mastermind and then that diminished because people went “Oh no, I can’t answer that, so I’m not interested”. But it is a bit more reality than it is quiz show. It may be that, who knows? Hopefully they don’t dumb them down.
SH: But for the time being you’re on Millionaire Hot Seat which has been going on for a number of years now and going very well. How long has Hot Seat been going?
MW: Well, the traditional format was an evening format, and they wanted a half- hour version to go on at 5:30 in particular. We had done, over the years, a couple of half-hour versions of the old show but it really didn’t work as well. This format was actually done in Denmark. I think they would have the live traditional Millionaire then go to the News and then come back and do this Hot Seat format, because they needed another show. And the set and everything was already there. They did that really as a bit of a filler. Then we saw that and thought “if that’s what you want at 5:30, this is the way to go with it”. We tried out a couple of versions of it and ended up with this, and it’s working really well.
SH: And long may it continue to do so. I think on that note, we might wrap it up. Michael thank you so much for being so generous with your time and speaking with me today. I really appreciate it – and what a long and varied career in every aspect of game shows and light entertainment and drama! Like you say, you don’t get that today. It’s been really great to talk to you.
MW: Thanks, Stephen.
Again, I’d like to thank Michael for being so generous with his time and for sharing so many thoughts and experiences from his epic career. I really enjoyed learning all about the various shows he’s worked on, and all the behind-the-scenes anecdotes, tips and hints… and I hope you did too.
Next week, something a bit different… some audio content! A little while ago, I was invited onto ABC Radio to talk game shows, along with the host of The Chase: Australia, Andrew O’Keefe. And that interview will be available, in full – as a clickable link, and a downloadable mp3 – right here, next Tuesday!