My EXCLUSIVE interview with big-winning, record-setting game show LEGEND David Poltorak – Part 7

When we left off last time, David had won 4 consecutive games and flown home to Sydney, to await the next Sale of The Century recording session, when he’d get his chance to return and attempt to go all the way. In this way, David’s run on Sale of the Century paralleled exactly my run on Temptation (the Sale of the Century reboot).

I, too, won 4 consecutive shows when I got on.

I, too, flew home to Sydney to await the continuation of my run. For me, though, the gap between recording sessions was an agonising two weeks, not one, and I’ve discussed all the suspense-is-killing me aspects of that period elsewhere on this blog. I was curious whether David took the same approach to this “downtime” (ha!) as I did…

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SH: So in the week between your two records, did you keep up with your training? Did you watch the show going to air each night, and still do your score sheet? And

did you do any additional research or study during that time?

DP: I don’t know that I would have continued with the scoring, I certainly would have watched the shows. And I certainly would have kept reading. I mean, all I was reading was a one-volume encyclopedia, and The Macquarie Atlas. My aim was just to remind myself of stuff that I had known once, and probably forgotten. I wasn’t expecting to learn much new, because I used to know all the capitals and things like that. I just had to get them closer to the surface of my brain, (if that’s where the memory sits). It was revision as much as anything.

SH: And so in your second record, you had three episodes to win, in order to go all the way. Can you just talk us through those three episodes and how you kept the energy up, and the attack level up? Because the pressure gets higher as the stakes get higher.

DP: Well, for me, the pressure didn’t build; I felt more relaxed, the closer I got to the end.

SH: That’s interesting.

DP: I didn’t actually feel pressured, because after that second episode… I, perhaps in ignorance, just felt that I wasn’t going to be given really tough opponents. And I didn’t necessarily think in terms of ‘Oh, they want me to win,’ I just looked around and made judgments about the people I saw as the contestants that week. And I thought, ‘Well, I could be wrong, but they don’t look that smart, or threatening. They don’t have that fierce vibe about them that tells me I should be worried.’

I just kept up my strategy, if you can call it, that of buying as much as I could. I guess I wanted to be liked by the audience. And I wanted to be the person who bought as much as they could along the way. I can’t remember what my scores were on my fifth and sixth episodes, but certainly for number seven, I thought, ‘Okay, I’m not buying now, I’m just going for a big score; I want to see how much I can get.’ It was purely for my own satisfaction.

SH: That’s an amazing attitude to have when there’s so much on the line. You said yourself, that the motivation for going on this was the money. So, for you not to let that get in your way is quite an incredible thing. You did set some records on that final night; the highest number of questions answered correctly in one episode (35 out of 55), the highest winning score ($200), the most questions answered correctly in the Fast Money round (16).

DP: AND the other record from that night is, that nobody on that show got a question wrong.

SH: Really?

DP: I mean, I got 200. But I think the person that came second got 45, which could often be a winning score.

SH: You won a grand total of $376,200, including $244,000 in cash, and $132,200 in prizes, which was the World Record at the time. Can you describe that moment when you had won, and it was all starting to sink in?

DP: Well, I had some friends in the audience who were some Melbourne locals and one actor from Sydney who was down. She was in The Flying Doctors; Lenore Smith. I don’t know if you remember her.

SH: Yeah. She’s lovely.

DP: Lovely woman. And (Sale‘s host) Tony (Barber) pointed out the fact that Lenore was there because The Flying Doctors was a Channel Nine show, so there was a nice bit of cross-promotion there. And I was aware that when people won, they would often take a moment to thank Grundy’s and the people on the show for making it all possible. But I just forgot all about it! It just wasn’t even on my radar; I was just stunned. Stunned. But what I felt most profoundly was a huge sense of relief. Yeah. Just enormous relief. I just felt this weight had just suddenly lifted off me. I was walking through the set and the streamers are still everywhere and everyone around me was applauding and slapping me on the shoulder and shaking my hand and everywhere I looked, people were just beaming at me. That was just a wonderful sensation. And I remember at the end of the show, Tony said, “Well, David, the drinks are on you tonight!” And I thought ‘Great, I’m going to go out for a drink with Tony Barber!’ So, when the show was over, before I headed back to the office to sign all the forms, I said to the contestant coordinator “Where’s Tony?” She said, “Oh, he’s gone. Why?” I said, “We’re meant to be going for a drink,” because I just had this idea that Tony’s going to be toasting me in a pub!

“From memory, this was taken at some big lunch at the TV station after my win.” But obviously without Tony Barber. (Photo: supplied.)

But I soon realized – and certainly, once I began working in that area – that it’s all just for show. Once the cameras are off, nothing exists. So anyway, my friends and I went back to my dressing room and drank champagne – a nice bottle of Moet – out of plastic cups. After that, it was all out of my hands. The people I was with wanted to celebrate. And I had no money on me! But we went to a bar somewhere and then someone had the bright idea that I should book a suite at the Windsor, which I did. I think it was The Robert Menzies Suite.

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Oooh, fancy! Join us next week, when the corks keep popping and the celebrations just go on and on and on….

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