My ‘Mastermind Australia’ journey – Part 1

Hello! As you may know by now, last week I competed in SBS’s Mastermind Australia, as part of their Champions Week competition. Here’s the link to my episode on SBS OnDemand: https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/watch/2314487875992

Back when I agreed to appear on the show, I thought an account of the whole process might be interesting to visitors to HowToWinGameShows.com. With that in mind, I kept a diary of the entire experience, and I’m very pleased to present Part One of it to you this week! Now read on… 

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On  Thursday 30th November last year, I received this message on LinkedIn, from one of the show’s producers:

Hi Stephen, I hope you’re well. I’m a Producer for the SBS quiz show ‘Mastermind Australia’. We’re thinking of doing a one-off Champions Week in our next series and I would love to connect with you here to get you on board. I look forward to hearing from you.

I told her I was intrigued, and we arranged a Zoom meeting….

          *                    *                    *                    *                    *                            *             After the Zoom meeting the following Monday…

So I’ve now learned that this week of Mastermind Australia will indeed be game show champions versus game show champions. Looking them up, the five  Mastermind Australia champions so far are Troy Egglestone, Jacqui Markham (now deceased), William Laing, Sterling Coates and Miles Glaspole.

They’ll be shooting this week’s worth of shows on Thursday February 1st next year in Sydney, at the SBS studios in Artarmon. It’s their first filming day for the year, and they record the first four episodes (Monday – Thursday shows) and the fifth, (the Friday show, which is that week’s Grand Final) in one day.

I’m gonna do it!

I like the show, I think it’d be a good thing to ‘come out of retirement for’, and the idea of having a special subject appeals to me; I like the idea of choosing one that’d be fun to study. I told her I’d like my special subject to be Filthy Rich and Catflap. Some other options, in case this is too narrow (as it’s only 6 episodes) might be… Spandau Ballet? Bottom? The Young Ones? Stath Lets Flats? Withnail & I? Father Ted? Big Train?

Once my special subject is locked in, I’ll write a big batch of questions on it. This is a numbers game – if I write enough interesting questions, that’ll guarantee I will write at least some of the ones that their question writers will eventually write for me.

So, if it’s truly going to be “a week of champions”, that’ll require 16 champions to play; four in each episode from Monday to Thursday, then on Friday, the four winners of those episodes will face off in the final.

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After our next Zoom Meeting, three days later…

It was a 15-minute chat with the producer again, where she asked me more about potential special subjects (of which I’ll only have to prepare one rather than two, due to the unique nature of this ‘Champions Week’ tournament). I told her about my other choices, and she jotted them down. She then hit ‘record’ and we did a little interview along with a general knowledge quiz.

PRO TIP: In their format, don’t say “pass” – just guess if you don’t know the answer, because according to the rules, if the top scores at the end of the game are tied, the person with the most “passes” loses.

She asked again if there’s anyone in particular who I’d like to go up against, and why? I get the feeling they’re really trying to stoke some antipathies – to set up some “grudge matches”… I mentioned that I went up against William Laing on Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster, back in 2006. That could very well be something they frame that way. The general knowledge quiz consisted of 10 surprisingly easy questions, all of which I got right. 

She said thanks, she’d ping my subjects through to a producer, and one of them would be in touch. So… good! Apparently, we’ll lock down my special subject by the end of the week, and then I’ll have between then and February 1st to study for it. I found those test questions very easy… were they TOO easy? I’m telling myself not to get complacent about that. Is this sense of security I have a false one?

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Why am I asking myself these questions? Are they, in fact, rhetorical? For the answers (or maybe not) check back in here next Tuesday for Part Two of my Mastermind Australia journey… Until then, then! 

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