My ‘Mastermind Australia’ journey – Part 3

From left to right: William Laing, me, (Host) Marc Fennell, Kieran Magee and Yael Blinco.

Hello! If you’ve been following along for the last couple of weeks as I outline my preparations for THIS particular episode of Mastermind Australia –  https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/watch/2314487875992 – you’ll know that we’re now up to the part where my study of the show is really kicking in…

12/01/24

So I’ve now scanned through all the Mastermind Australia episodes that are available to watch on SBS on Demand, and highlighted the ones which include sitcoms or UK TV comedy shows as specialist subjects (where that information is available):

SEASON 1

Episode 6 (Monty Python’s Flying Circus)

SEASON 2

Episode 33 (Gavin & Stacy)

Episode 37 (The Young Ones)!

Episode 39 (Absolutely Fabulous)

Episode 41 (Happy Days)

Episode 42 (Scrubs)

Episode 44 (Sex and the City)

Episode 56 (Will & Grace)

Episode 58 (The Goon Show and Friends)

Episode 62 (M*A*S*H)

Episode 63 (The Office UK)

SEASON 3

Episode 3 (Kath & Kim)

Episode 8 (Rowan Atkinson)

Episode 9 (Fawlty Towers)!

Episode 14 (Frasier)

Episode 19 (Flight of the Conchords)

Episode 24 (Archer)

Episode 26 (Will & Grace)

Episode 29 (The Big Bang Theory)

Episode 43 (The Micallef Programme)

Episode 47 (Schitt’s Creek)

Episode 48 (Scrubs)

Episode 49 (The Goodies and The Simpsons)

Episode 51 (The Thick of it)

Episode 53 (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

Episode 57 (The Mighty Boosh)

Episode 67 (How I Met Your Mother)

Episode 73 (Seinfeld)

Episode 74 (Spaced)

Episode 76 (Married With Children)

Episode 78 (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

SEASON 4

Episode 53 (Seinfeld)

SEASON 5

Episode 58 (Ricky Gervais)

I will watch (/listen to) all of these eps, to get a good feel for how the questions writers approach this genre: the question writing conventions they use. What are the typical SHAPES of questions about UK TV comedy shows that they program on Mastermind Australia?

Also, I’ve started watching the Celebrity version of Mastermind Australia. Some things I’ve learnt (re-learnt) from watching these episodes:

  • Do your homework! (Der). Don’t just assume that because you like something, you’re an expert on it. MAKE yourself an expert on it. (Again, Der.)

  • Don’t suck up to the host. It’s cringeworthy.

  • If you don’t know the answer, say “Pass” – or far more preferably, have a guess – quickly and move on to the next. There is NO VALUE – for the contestant OR the audience – in the contestant humming and hah-ing and laughing and being embarrassed and talking us through why they don’t know the answer, and how they almost know the answer and why they almost know the answer but don’t, and so on and so on… Many lesser comedians arrogantly assume that their floundering and ad-libbing is automatically hilarious… but in this particular context, that’s the exact opposite of entertaining.

  • Have some dignity. If I happen to get a few wrong in a row, don’t guffaw and cheer and guffaw again when I eventually get one right. Yes, getting a series of questions wrong is embarrassing, (especially when it was preventable, and you just haven’t bothered to do any homework). But I should have mitigated that risk by doing every scrap of homework I could think of, long before getting to that chair. If I do get a series of questions wrong, it WILL be embarrassing… but just professionally move on, remembering my old mantra: “I know the next one, I know the next one…” Do NOT loudly and over-enthusiastically congratulate myself for getting a score of roughly three.

  • Don’t be too much of a smartarse. It’s good to have a few lines prepared, so that when Marc asks me a predictable question, I’ve got some rehearsed spontaneity up my sleeve… but don’t cross the line where it looks like I’ve prepared a bunch of lines, and I’m desperate to get them all out before I leave.

  • Mastermind is big on amping up the tension and the nerves and the “terror” and “agony” of the big chair. Remember that it’s not really all that scary.

Earlier today, I started to daydream about winning. On Mastermind Australia Champions Week, to achieve that, all I have to do is win two episodes! (Not seven, like I did on Temptation). I allowed myself to fantasise about being able to change the tagline on HowToWinGameShows.com. I’d love to be able to write

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR WINNING GAME SHOWS, FROM SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT… THREE TIMES!

But then I think ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa – settle down, big fella. Easy there tiger, don’t get ahead of yourself. You’ve got a long way to go yet.’

==================================================================

… A long way which will continue right here next Tuesday at HowToWinGameShows.com!  

This awkward blog post sign off was bought to you by Tortured Segues Pty Ltd. (“Proudly overreaching linguists to the gentry since 1987.”)

My ‘Mastermind Australia’ journey – Part 2

Hello again, and welcome to the second part of my account of how I came to be on THIS particular episode of Mastermind Australia:

https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/watch/2314487875992

Sitting in the ‘Mastermind Australia’ Big Black Chair. From the look on my face, I’m guessing this was a “BEFORE” shot…

In last week’s instalment, I’d agreed to go on the show, had a couple of initial conversations with one of the producers and suggested some special subjects. Now read on…

==================================================================

Thursday 07/12/23 

Had a phone call with the Question Producer! Good to chat to him. We went through my potential special subjects and landed on Bottom (probably just the TV shows – there are 18 episodes of them, which makes this a broad enough category. We probably don’t have to also include the five stage shows, which were released on home video, or the film version Guest House Paradiso.)

Other than that, the main points of the call:

  1. The format: Four champions WILL face off each night (Monday night -Thursday night), and the four nightly winners WILL compete in the final (Friday night’s show). In the Monday – Thursday shows, each player does one round of general knowledge and one round of their special subject. In the final (that is, Friday’s episode), each player does one round of general knowledge and one “Slow Burn” question (which is essentially a “Who Am I?” question, with more points awarded for the earlier you answer correctly). There’s no special subject round in Friday night’s show. SO I only need to prepare one special subject (Previously, I thought I might have needed to prepare two).
  2. For my special subject round, they’ll write a maximum of 20 questions… most people only get through about 14 before their time runs out.
  3. They’ve recruited 12 of the 16 required champs so far. They include: Troy Egglestone (Mastermind S01), William Laing (Mastermind S03), Miles Glaspole (Mastermind S05), Kate Buckingham, Sandra Oxley, Stirling Coates (Mastermind S04) and Andrew Skarbec (Million Dollar Minute).

So between now and Feb, I need to watch loads of Mastermind Australia episodes on SBS OnDemand. I should concentrate on the Marc Fennell-hosted ones (S03 onwards), so I can study him as well.

After a bit of searching, I’ve discovered that all of the Bottom episodes can be watched online, if you know where to look…

29/12/23

While watching an episode of Mastermind today (actually, listening to an episode today: I just pop it on, on my phone while I’m walking the dog – don’t need to actually see it, for my study purposes), I stumbled across a contestant whose specialist subject was the UK comedy show Inside No. 9. I noted that the format of one of the questions was “What’s the title of the episode in which XXX happens?” That format of question would work also well for my subject (Bottom). Which got me thinking ‘what type of questions do the MM question writers write about UK TV comedy shows, specifically?’

SO… in addition to writing a bunch of my own questions about each episode of Bottom (and each of the five stage shows – it turns out they’ll be included too – bugger! That gives me a LOT more material that I have to study, unfortunately)…

… I decided to go back through the previous seasons of Mastermind, find out which ones had UK TV Comedy shows as specialist subjects, and prioritise watching them, while taking notes about the formats of questions, and any patterns that pop up in the question-writing styles on this particular subject / genre. Lots of Mastermind Australia special subject information from previous seasons is freely available online, and I’ve now noted down enough relevant episodes to keep me going for a while.

30/12/23

I’ve discovered the podcast Talking Bottom, which will prove an invaluable resource! Really keen, informed, well-researched discussion of the show… and a 10 question quiz at the end of each episode! What a godsend. I’m now listening to the 18 episodes that discuss Bottom‘s 18 episodes in detail, and the 5 episodes that discuss Bottom‘s live shows in detail. I’ll add some of their easier quiz questions into my database of home-made questions, I think.

==================================================================

So, now with those 18 episodes and 5 stage shows locked in, my special subject study can start in earnest. Must admit, I hadn’t bargained on the live shows being included – that’s a SIGNIFICANT increase in my workload – but at least they’re not including the film version (1999’s Guest House Paradiso)…

See you next Tuesday! 

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… 

==================================================================

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.

          *                    *                    *                    *                    *                            *

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?

==================================================================

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! 

STOP PRESS – a recent radio interview and a bouncy, controversial read…

Hello!

Just a quick interruption to my ongoing interview with quiz champion Yogesh Raut, to let you know about a little radio appearance I did last week.

On Thursday afternoon, I was invited onto the ABC Victorian statewide Drive program with Prue Bentley, to talk about winning game shows.

It was a great little (8-minute) chat, in which I outlined some of my favourite game show-winning training tips I’ve accumulated over the years. So if you’re interested in my top tips of all time, you can listen to our interview RIGHT HERE. (https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/vic-statewide-drive/drive/102975214) It starts around the 17:40 mark.

In other news, I stumbled across this AV Club article about the Jeopardy! strategy known as ‘the Forrest Bounce’…

(https://www.avclub.com/jeopardy-technique-james-holzhauer-forrest-bounce-1850935799)

It’s a great read if you’re interested in Jeopardy!, in the various tactics and strategies that can be used on it, and in the way that particular game continues to change and evolve. And while this article is an interesting read, it’s also proven a little controversial, with one of the key figures in it – James Holzhauer – taking to Twitter (X) to say this…

Intriguing… Long live the idea of spirited game show debate!

And that’s it for today. I’ll see you back here next Tuesday, where we’ll pick up our interview with Yogesh, right where we left off last week.

Until then, then!

HTWGS movie review – ‘Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much’.

So, first things first… did you watch it?

If you haven’t seen this documentary yet, you still have time! There WILL be spoilers in this review, so before you scroll down to read it, here’s your last chance to see what I’ll be talking about…

You can watch the full (72-minute) movie online, either HERE, 

HERE, 

HERE,

or HERE.Okay. So don’t say I haven’t warned you.

Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much tells the story of maths teacher Theodore “Ted” Slausen; a lifelong The Price Is Right fan, who has attended a whopping 37 recordings of the show! Ted’s not just a superfan, though; he’s also an incredibly keen analyst of the show, watching it religiously, and creating and maintaining vast databases of all the prizes and their respective dollar values. And he’s been doing this for decades. 

The idea first occurred to Ted when he watched 4 episodes from 1973 and noticed they contained four fridges which were all the same price. This planted a seed in his analytical mind: it told him there were patterns on the show that could be predicted…

So Ted started logging all the prizes on the show – and their values – building what would become an ENORMOUS database. He made his own rudimentary TPIR computer game, which included all the games – and prizes – from the show, and he spent a lot of time playing his own home version of the game with friends.

When he turned 18, he went to recordings of the show six times but never got picked to “Come on down”. Ted ended up going to 23 tapings of the show without ever being called down… but then, on his 24th visit, he made it onto the stage as a contestant, played the games, and won a few prizes. And, it would appear that was where Ted’s TPIR journey would end…

There are more twists and turns ahead, though. This film is a portrait of Ted’s lifelong obsession with the show, and he’s not done yet…

As you know, I’ve always advocated getting to know a show intimately, if you’re planning to go on it. David Poltorak holds the same view, as does Martin Flood. If you’re an aspiring contestant who’s taking the show seriously, you’ve got to know all its ins and outs. As Christopher Walken says in the movie Mousehunt, if you want to catch a mouse… “You have to think…”

“…. LIKE A MOUSE!”

But I digress. About two-thirds of the way through Perfect Bid, after Ted’s one and only appearance as a contestant on the show, his TPIR journey seems to have ended…

But, as we know, the show’s format encourages the audience to yell out what they think the prizes are worth…. an element that seems tailor-made for Ted. The rest of the film outlines his subsequent visits to recordings, and the numerous occasions when contestants took Ted’s (yelled) advice and won big prizes! There is scandal, there are conspiracy theories, and we hear from the show’s current host Drew Carey, who feared that all of this could spell the end of The Price Is Right altogether! That’s why, when he’s congratulating Terry Kniess (whose perfect showcase bid resulted from following Ted’s advice), Drew is so unenthusiastic.

This is a well-made documentary, with lots of archival TV footage, and they clearly did it all on a shoestring budget. But on a technical note… I don’t know if it was my headphones or the settings on my computer when I watched this, but the background musical score sounded very intrusive to me. The producers have used upbeat, 1920s-style big band music (often featuring vocals) throughout a lot of the film, and to my ear, it really got in the way. Again, I don’t know if it was the sound mix or a problem at my end, but I found it incredibly distracting every time the background music annoyingly became foreground music. And on the subject of music… There’s a section of the film where (the show’s host) Bob Barker retires, as does its producer Roger Dobkowitz, and it’s incredibly schmaltzy, with a syrupy, overblown, sentimental song (again with intrusive vocals) called Christmas Time is Here. Um, why? As far as I can tell, Bob didn’t leave at Christmas, and neither did Roger.

In the final analysis, I found it all a bit sad. Ted never benefitted from the wins of anyone he helped… so what does he have to show for his decades of The Price Is Right obsession? Well, from that one time he got on the show, he came away with $1100 prize money, a recliner chair (worth $599), a coffee maker ($160), a photo laminator ($50), a dumbbell set ($35), 2 sets of jogging clothes ($18), and a peck on the cheek from – and an autographed picture of – the spokesmodel named Holly.

Perfect Bid is an interesting – and pretty quick – watch for game show aficionados and fans (like us), but I can’t help feeling that Ted’s story is ultimately unsatisfying; his journey as a contestant ended a long time ago, his winnings were unremarkable, and none of the people he’s helped since then have shared any of their winnings with him.

The documentary is certainly a mighty testament to the power of doing your game show homework, but I can’t help asking… what did Ted do all that homework FOR? For the love of the game, I suppose. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t necessarily make for a riveting tale.

As such, I’m giving Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much…

2 game show buzzers out of 4.

==================================================================

Have YOU watched Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much? (You can do that HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE.) If you have, what did YOU think of it? Please let me know in the comments below!

What I’ve planned for next week, and how you can get involved.

Hello!

I hope you enjoyed my epic interview with David Poltorak. I know I did!

As promised, this week I’m doing Something Completely Different (and next week too). Recently, someone who follows me on Twitter made me aware of a 2017 documentary about Theodore “Ted” Slauson; a man who’s been in the audience at tapings of The Price Is Right a whopping 37 times, and who has a unique story to tell. As you know, I’ve spoken many times here on the blog about doing your homework; about diligently studying the show you’re about to appear on. Well, Ted took this idea to INCREDIBLE extremes, as you can see right HERE in the trailer for the film, which is called Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much….

I’ve just watched the film in its entirety, and next week I’ll be bringing you my exclusive HTWGS review of it.

In the meantime, if the trailer above has whet your appetite, you can watch the full (72-minute) movie online, either HERE, 

HERE,

HERE,

or HERE.

If you can find a spare hour and 12 minutes between now and next Tuesday, I’d strongly recommend watching Perfect Bid. And if you DO get a chance to watch it, you’ll be able to compare notes with my review when I post it here next Tuesday. I’ll be interested to see how your reaction compares to mine!

Until then, then!

 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with big-winning, record-setting game show LEGEND David Poltorak – Part 11

The Australian team at the ’87 ‘Worlds’: (L-R) Cary Young, David Poltorak, (co-host) Alyce Platt, Geoff Saunders, (host) Tony Barber, David Bock, Virginia Noel

One very fond memory I have of Sale of the Century throughout its long run is its various tournaments, where previous big winners were invited back to compete against each other…

========================

SH: You were in a few of those Sale of the Century ‘Champions of Champions’ tournaments. How many did you do?

DP: Look, it’s a blur. I did one in early ‘87, so that was just a couple of months after I’d been on the first time. In retrospect, that was far too soon. I just wasn’t mentally prepared, although I almost won; it came down to a tie-breaker between (fellow Sale of the Century champion) Cary Young and myself. And he got it. From what I can remember, the person in the ‘Who am I?’ tiebreaker question was born in 1868… which is often all that Cary needs, if there were not many famous people born that year. I think the next clue might have been “born on the Darling Downs” or something like that. Or maybe “born Arthur Hoey Davis”? Does that name ring a bell?

SH: No, it doesn’t. The only person I can think of is AB Facey, who wrote A Fortunate Life

DP: Well, it’s in that ballpark. It’s Steele Rudd. But that was a wake-up call to me; to compete at this level, you really must know every famous person’s year of birth. Because Cary did! Or he knew enough of them to knock everyone else out of the way on his way through to a win. And although not all Fame Games were people, or started with the year of their birth…. most of them did. So he had an innate advantage. I remember from that point, I started compiling index cards of famous people.

SH: Yep.

DP: Starting with composers and painters, and presidents and kings and queens and Prime Ministers and movie stars and things like that. And this is before I had a computer! I just remember having a big pile of these cards. And then when I did get a computer (about a year later), I started typing in all this information about famous people. I’ve still got the file and I still update it if someone famous dies.

SH: If you’re doing this now, is it as ammunition for future quizzing, or is it just something that interests you?

DP: It’s a bit of both. I think it’s part of always being curious and wanting to know stuff. And it was also a realisation that if they ask me on to subsequent championships… “Well, this seems to be the level I’m at now; I’ve really got to know a lot more than I do.” And the thing is, you just never know what’s ahead of you, whether there will be other opportunities. I just wanted to be prepared. And I’ve got a lot of free time because I’m not working much these days, and it’s something that’s never been a chore for me.

SH: You said you went on your first ‘Champion of champions’ games too soon; not long after your big win. I did exactly the same thing. And I think I was overconfident; I thought “I’m on top of the world, and how hard can it be?” But my opponents were really, really, really good – much better than me. Which is entirely predictable, in hindsight.

DP: And who were some of your opponents?

SH: I had Rob O’Neill, who was a Temptation Grand Champion. And I was also up against Rob ‘The Coach’ Fulton who was the first Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? millionaire.

DP: Okay. He was there as a Millionaire winner?

SH: That’s right. But I only made it through one heat. And then I got knocked out in the second heat. I think I was a bit too big for my boots there; flushed with my recent success, I think. After that, I didn’t go back again. But this takes me back to something you said earlier; you were saying that after your big win, you didn’t necessarily want to be just “The Quiz Guy”…

DP: Yeah. Because one of the things that kept coming up with people I encountered was that they viewed me as The Quiz Guy, which was an understandable perception. But I was only too aware that so much of it is luck, and the fact that you might have won one show is no guarantee of anything, or of any subsequent success. I didn’t really think there’d be that many quiz opportunities… But I thought ‘I’ve got to compartmentalise some time for that avenue’.

One of the things I found quite unenjoyable about my win was the attention I got from people whose attention I didn’t necessarily desire. For instance, there was a woman from an insurance company who really had her claws in me. She was determined that I was going to invest in annuities with her insurance company. And we had, I don’t know how many cups of coffee and she took me back to the head office to meet her managing director or something, and they really wanted me to put that money into annuities. And I was just getting the big hard sell on what I should be doing with that jackpot. The whole thing never felt right to me. And in retrospect, it would have been a really dumb thing to do. I mean, annuities are a sort of pension-age product.

==================================================================

So, if David doesn’t necessarily want to be seen as The Quiz Guy, but people are seeing him as The Quiz Guy anyway, and he’s very good at being The Quiz Guy, and he’s doing all the homework that a Quiz Guy does… where does that leave him?

Find out next week, Dear Reader, in our subsequent exciting instalment!

A nightly burst of quick quizzy goodness…

Hello!

Just a quick one today, to let you know about a fun new quiz competition that’s the brainchild of Australian quiz show question writer Miles Glaspole. In his spare time, Miles has created a brand new quick-fire general knowledge quiz format for TikTok!

It’s called The TikTok 10, and it’s a rapid round of 10 general knowledge questions that you have to answer before Miles says the answer. The thing is, he says the answer right after the question, so you really do have to be pretty darn fast…

There’s a new episode every weekday at 7 PM AEST.

Speaking as a gentleman of a certain age, I must confess that I’m not totally, entirely, 100% super-familiar with the intricacies of TikTok… but from what I’ve seen, this looks ace!

And I think it’d certainly be excellent training for anyone contemplating going on a fast-paced fire quiz show.

Nice one, Miles!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Hard Quiz’ winner Markos Hasiotis – Part I

That’s Markos on the left, in the red shirt.

Hello! Today sees the first part of a three-part interview with Markos Hasiotis, who’s one of the winners of the Australian game show Hard Quiz; a show that requires its contestants to have great general knowledge and outstanding knowledge of their own specially selected subjects. Or to put it another way, they need to know a little about a lot, and a lot about a little. And in November 2017, Markos absolutely nailed it. Let’s meet him!

==================================================================

SH: Markos, thanks so much for talking to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com. By way of background, what was your life like before going on the show? I’m assuming you’ve always been interested in trivia (especially since your trivia handle is @FactBuffet)!

MH: Thank you, Stephen. Well, my life was pretty normal: I grew up in Melbourne, went to school, had fun with friends. I graduated from university in 2014 where I studied media, and since then have worked in different media roles. Hard Quiz was probably the most out-there thing I had done up to that point!

Facts have definitely been a constant throughout my life. As a kid, we didn’t have a TV in the house, so I read fact books instead and fell in love with facts. That love manifested itself into an enjoyment of trivia nights, my fact-based Twitter account and, eventually, the aforementioned quiz show.

SH: Had you watched Hard Quiz from its beginning in 2016?

MH: I’d actually auditioned for the show in 2016 but wasn’t successful, so I didn’t watch the first season… because it hurt too much! After I auditioned the second time in 2017 and got the green light, I binged on all the episodes that I’d missed and I very much enjoyed doing so.

SH: Some regular visitors to this site may be unfamiliar with Hard Quiz‘s format, so could you please give them a quick description of how the show works?

MH: Sure. Well, each episode has four contestants, each with an expert subject. (The show’s host) Tom Gleeson briefly chats with / insults each of us and then the game begins:

Each contestant is asked 5 questions about their expert subject, they get 5 points for a correct answer and 5 points off for a wrong answer. Other contestants are allowed to buzz in and answer a question on someone else’s subject; if they’re correct, they receive 10 points and they lose 5 points if they’re incorrect.

After that, it’s a round called ‘Tom’s Subject’, where you’re asked 5 multiple-choice questions on a random subject. In my case, it was Indonesia. You receive 5 points for a correct answer and lose 5 points for an incorrect answer… except on the 5th question where correct answers get 10 points.

The contestant with the lowest score after that round is eliminated.

Then it’s ‘The People’s Round’, where Tom asks general knowledge questions for 30 seconds. 5 points for a correct answer, 5 points off for an incorrect answer. The person with the lowest score after that round is also eliminated.

In the Final Round, the 2 remaining contestants go Head to Head. They’re each asked 5 questions on their expert subject, one tick for a correct answer and one cross for a wrong answer. Whoever gets the most ticks, wins the mug.

SH: What made you decide that you wanted to go on the show?

MH: I couldn’t resist! It seemed like an exciting chance for me to put my knowledge to the test, and the fact that Tom Gleeson was hosting indicated that it’d be a funny experience. I had no work or study commitments either, so the timing felt just right.

SH: Your special subject was James Bond – and I could see why it would be! (I’m something of a fan myself) How did you train for going on the show?

MH: Bond-A-Rama! looks great, I wish I’d gone to see it.

SH: Haha! Thank you!

MH: I trained by doing lots of James Bond quizzes online. I also had several James Bond books and a James Bond board game at my childhood home, so I looked through them which was helpful. I wanted to watch the movies but my DVD player broke after From Russia with Love which threw a spanner in the works. However, there’s an online channel called Haphazardstuff which has detailed video reviews of James Bond movies, so watching them was a worthy alternative.

As for general knowledge, I’m quite lucky that I essentially train for it daily, through my tweeting. I also scanned newspapers and encyclopaedias often and also quizzed myself with every Carlton Draught bottle cap I could find!

==================================================================

And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. For our overseas visitors, I should explain that Carlton Draught is an Australian brand of beer. The caps on the 375 mL bottles always have a trivia question (and answer) printed on their underside. Loads of paradoxical quizzing fun to share with friends over drinks in the pub; why not exercise a few brain cells while simultaneously killing a few off?

I’ll be back next Tuesday with Part II of my chat with Markos. See you then! 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Winner Judd Field! Part VI

And so now here we are at the climax of Judd Field’s Millionaire Hot Seat journey. The top prize amount on offer in Judd’s episode has turned out to be $50,000, and Judd has now battled his way through several questions to get here. He started the game in the Hot Seat, he’s been out of the Hot Seat, and is now back in it again, and he’s just about to have a crack at the big one…. ==============

SH: Before the final question, Eddie made you sing for your supper, literally. Presumably, this was something you’d worked out beforehand?

JF: Haha, yeah that was the song I sung down the barrel of the camera in my audition to stand out, for a bit of fun. I knew they would ask me to do something, so was ready to bust it out. In the recording of the show, they actually showed part of a clip of the song I helped write for a UK RAF war widow charity, that ended up being filmed in Westminster Abbey as the only song ever allowed there. After they played that, Eddie asked me to sing something else. The video clip part of the conversation never made it to air, which is a shame cause I might have got 10 seconds of royalties as well. Haha.

SH: Your final question – for $50,000 – was

“Well, nobody’s perfect” is the final line of which classic film?
A) Some Like It Hot
B) Chinatown
C) A Clockwork Orange
D) Psycho

You hadn’t seen any of them recently… but you were leaning towards A. Why was that?

Continue reading