Hello! As Martin Flood and I continue discussing his time as ‘the Master’ on the quiz show of the same name, I wanted to go right back to the beginning, to find out how it all came about, and why he said yes.
Oh, and just before we go any further… as I mentioned last week, I’ve put an episode of the MASTER up on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page. So if you’d like to familiarise yourself with the show that we’re discussing… the episode’s in two parts, and you can watch the first part here and the second part here.
And now, on we go!
SH: How were you initially approached to be ‘the Master’?
MF: I was sitting at work one day early in 2006, wondering what I was doing there
given how much money had recently come my way, when the phone rang. It was
some young bloke from Channel Seven, I guessed around 30ish. He sounded very
enthusiastic for all things television and asked if I’d be interested in
looking at a new quiz show they were producing. I didn’t know that he was
the legendary Grant Rule, executive producer of countless TV shows including
Countdown. He was actually 60 at the time. I think you know him, Hally, and I
guess you might understand why he sounded so much younger over the phone.
SH: What made you say yes?
MF: You did.
MF: Yes. I had never imagined anything past winning on Millionaire. I had visualised
so much about winning the million, but all my visualisations stopped at Eddie
handing me the cheque. I thought it was possible something else might come
along, but being a TV guy was never one of my dreams or goals. The thought of
being a regular on a TV show was just too foreign for me… let alone being the
eponymous ‘Master’ and star of my own TV show! Of course it wasn’t my show; I think Mark Beretta was the real star as he really suited and played
his role as host perfectly. So I asked a number of friends if they thought I
should do it and they all said yes. The last person I asked was you, after
trivia at Bondi RSL one night. Regardless of how we both thought the show
would turn out, you said “Of course you have to do it! That goes without
saying”. For better or worse, you convinced me with that.
SH: Okay, no pressure…. So who or what was the character of ‘the Master’? Were you just playing yourself?
MF: Early on I met with Grant Rule in the Melbourne studios and he began to
describe to me the role of the Master. He seemed to want someone who thought
of themselves as superior. I gathered he wanted the Master to be arrogant. I
felt a little uncomfortable about this. I had gone through a short-lived
arrogant phase in my late teens, only to conclude that was the last thing I
wanted to be. Of course I understood this would only be me pretending, but
audiences don’t always realise that. Many people had told me how much they
didn’t like Cornelia Frances on The Weakest Link and each time I tried to
point out that she was only acting. After the Master aired, some people had
commented to my friends about how horrible or rude I was. I believe my
acting was pretty woeful, but it looks like I convinced some people. Whenever
I was in the red chair, I was following a script. I never felt comfortable
with it. When we played the endgame, I had one arrogant line to say then
the rest was me being myself. I felt much more comfortable with that.
SH: Did you find the prospect of being the centrepiece of the show
MF: It’s something I had never imagined I would be asked to do. I had never seen
a quiz show with a past champion as the centrepiece. In fact, it may have
been the first of its kind – to have contestants competing against a quiz
champion. I was worried how I would come across on TV. I also worried – if the
show succeeded – would I ever get used to being a pseudo celebrity? What would
that be like?
For the answers to those questions, Dear Reader, and many more… be sure to visit us right here at www.HowToWinGameShows.com, next Tuesday!