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!

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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!

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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?

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

Welcome to the fifth instalment of my exclusive interview with Millionaire Hot Seat winner Judd Field. At this stage of proceedings, Judd’s been in the Hot Seat, he’s chosen to pass on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles question, and so has returned to the contestant queue. None of his competitors have lasted long in their turns in the Hot Seat though, and we’ve cycled through them all quite quickly, and now Judd’s back in prime position. His next question is about rice, and it’s worth $4000…
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SH: Judd, you seemed pretty sure of your next question…

Which of these rice varieties is named after a town in Italy?
A) Arborio
B) Basmati
C) Calrose
D) Japonica

You seemed sure it was Arborio. Of course, it WAS Arborio, and that answer earned you $4,000.

JF: Yeah. I actually started a chef apprenticeship in an Italian restaurant when I left school, so I was very sure.

SH: For the question after that…

Which of these current model motor vehicles is not produced by Holden?
A) Captiva
B) Equinox
C) Mondeo
D) Trailblazer

 

At first you seemed unsure, but you then locked in “Ford Mondeo”. That was correct, and you were now sitting on $6,000.

JF: Haha, yes! That was one of those questions where the words of the producer’s pre-show talk were ringing in my ear; “Read the question properly”. I remember working through which of the options it wasn’t; “Holden Captiva”, “Holden Trailblazer”, “Holden Captiva”… they all sounded kinda right. Or at least not wrong. “Holden Mondeo”? No, that did sound wrong – it’s “Ford Mondeo”. Also, I used to have a Captiva and my Ford-mad uncle used to have a Mondeo (I used to tease him….haha!) So I was sure… once I had read the question 5 times haha.

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

Welcome back to my interview with Judd Field. Let’s dive right back in!
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SH: The show starts with 15 questions in the ‘Fastest Finger First’ format – did you do any specific training for that?
JF: Yes; playing the iPhone app quiz games, just trying to answer as quickly as possible. It’s a hard one to prepare for, as (on the show) it’s effectively an iPad with a stylus pen. The question comes up on screen and you have to click on the answer. It’s hard to hover the pen, as then you can’t see the answer. After a terrible start (the pen didn’t seem to register on the iPad), I did okay, and got a number right. That included having the only correct answer to a visual question (“Which of these cathedral rooves is the Pantheon roof?” Maybe my spiritual background helped haha), but anyway I finished third, and that helped my confidence levels.

SH: Central to the format of Millionaire Hot Seat is the contestants’ option to ‘Pass’ on a specific question, and go back to the queue, hopefully to have a another turn in the Hot Seat later in the episode. Did you have a particular strategy about how and when to use this?

JF: The lack of lifelines in the Millionaire Hot Seat format makes it a lot harder to just sit in the chair and answer everything. Something I noticed when watching over the years was that there was often that one question completely out of my interests or field of knowledge, and that was the hardest thing to prepare for.
As much as I wanted to turn off the TV and just study encyclopaedias, I realised you do need every bit of information from current events too. You need to be a sponge, but even then, there are always your weak areas.
For example, in my episode, there was a 92-year-old man – sharp as a tack, he nearly won the ‘Fastest Finger’ section – and when he got to the Hot Seat, he answered quite a number of difficult questions very confidently. His general knowledge was becoming very intimidating and I was starting to wonder if the gameplay would even get back to me. But he hit a question from current events;
American footballer Colin Kapernick appeared
in a 2018 ad campaign for which sports brand?
A) Converse
B) Adidas
C) Under Armour
D) Nike
He clearly had no idea, tossed up between Adidas and Converse and incorrectly guessed Adidas. I love sports, and remembered the “kneeling for the national anthem” controversy on Facebook, and was pretty sure it was Nike.*
It’s hard sitting in the next seats “hoping” someone gets it wrong so you can get back in the Hot Seat, but I must admit as soon as I saw that question, I breathed a sigh of relief, as I had a feeling that a modern sporting current event question might be outside his field of knowledge.
And that’s the thing; with the lack of lifelines in this format, it highlights strategically using the “pass” as the only other way you can avoid those left-field questions, short of being a certified, card-carrying genius like your good self Stephen.
SH: Oh, you’re too kind!
JF: Not at all. So my plan was; if I drew the first or second seat, I wanted to pass early to reduce my chances of hitting that kind of curve-ball question in the mid rounds. Watching the show, I’ve noted if you pass when you’re the third contestant, it’s likely you won’t get another chance, so if you are in those seats (third or above) you really have to just go all in, all the way.
SH: Judd, I’d like to run through your game in a bit more detail now, in the hope that that’ll be helpful for our readers. Now, your first two questions were…

Which of these is not the name of a Melbourne Cup winning jockey?

(3 names + the joke answer “Anita Winn”)

A cultural phenomenon beginning in the early 2000s were impromptu group performances known as what?

(Flash mobs)

Your answered both of these easily, but then your third question was….

The options being:

A) Lasagne

B) Pizza

C) Macaroni and cheese

D) Garlic bread.

Judd, when you passed at that point, were you thinking that your ‘Hot Seat’ journey was over? Or were you thinking that the other five contestants would all cycle through, and you’d get a chance to get back into the Hot Seat again before the episode was done?

JF: As I mentioned earlier, I’d always wanted to pass early – in fact, the earlier the better – so as soon as I had the slightest hesitation in my answer I decided I’d pass. Almost as soon as I left the chair, “Pizza” dropped into my head, but I was completely happy with the pass.

SH: And lo and behold… the other five contestants DID all cycle through, and you found yourself back in the Hot Seat again, with a shot at the new top prize of $50,000. What were you thinking at that moment?

JF: I can only reiterate this calm feeling I had that I was going to win. In my head It was like someone is watching over me and “it was all just meant to be.”

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Aha! But WAS Judd’s win actually ‘all meant to be’?** You’ll have to check back here next Tuesday to find out!

* For those of you playing along at home, it was Nike.
** SPOILER ALERT: Yes.

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

Hello and welcome to the third part of my chat with Judd, about his Millionaire Hot Seat experience.
You’ll see at the start of this section that I bombarded poor Judd with a load of questions about his experience in the studio on the record day, but I must confess I was surprised by the direction our conversation took after that…
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SH: I understand that Hot Seat tapes six episodes on each record day… before we get down to the nitty-gritty of your particular game, Judd, can you talk a bit about the studio experience itself?
What surprised you about the way the day was run?
What did you notice about other contestants, and the way they handled it?
How did you manage your energy levels?
Were there any elements of the show itself – such as the studio audience, the host Eddie McGuire, the speed of proceedings, or even the physicality of the set, the brightness of the lights, the loudness of the music – that surprised you?
JF: Having done a lot of TV work in my singing career, the whole studio lights stuff didn’t faze me at all. You soon realise that it’s all smoke and mirrors, and that TV sets always look smaller in real life.
They provided a light lunch and some snacks for the audience during the show.
All the waiting contestants became the audience for the other shows. There was very little turnaround time between each of the three episodes recorded before lunch; basically they move the new contestants’ audience partners into the stand directly behind the contestants chairs as they are filing the new contestants into the stage and it all starts again. It was hard to even duck out to the toilet once the machine was rolling! They don’t pause very long for ad breaks and so just fire from one segment to the next almost straight away; it’s all very fast-paced.
The lady seated beside me on the show was super nervous. She had flown in from Perth the night before. I felt for her and tried to make a few light-hearted jokes to relax her. But she settled down and actually won the ‘Fastest Finger First’ section, so she walked away with the $1000 cheque. Some of the other contestants in my episode were also clearly nervous.
I did feel quite sorry for the other contestants; it’s a long day to get maybe one question that just happens to be the curly one, out of your field, and bang, you are going home to Perth with nothing. I was also fortunate that my episode was the second one recorded on the day, so I got to watch episode one, which helped me settle… and then I basically got to relax for the rest of the day! I felt for those episode 1 contestants (with no warm up to watch), and also for the last two episodes’ contestants; having to nervously wait all day must have been torture.
I will also add the importance of being calm and relaxed will definitely help you think clearly. If you are a meditation type or religious praying type, I think that will all definitely give you something to fall back on in the heat.
For me my faith definitely helped me have a quiet confidence. Now, this may all sound bizarre, and maybe even far-fetched… but if you want to honestly know how I felt emotionally, this is how it went down for me. I had had a very, very rough few weeks prior to the show. My house had been broken into, my wife had been in hospital, my kids had been going through school bullying issues, and I’d had a business deal go sour with a “friend”. He was trying to take a project from me that I had been working on for three years.

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

Hello and welcome to the second part of my chat with Judd Field. When we left off last week, Judd had successfully got through the general knowledge test part of the audition, he’d made a good impression in the camera test, and he’d received the call telling him he’d been selected to appear on the show! Now read on…
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SH: When did you record your particular episode of Millionaire Hot Seat?
JF: My episode was postponed from an initial late January record, to Mon 18th of Feb 2019.
SH: And when did your episode air, and what was it like keeping your BIG SECRET in the meantime?
JF: I was initially told the episode would air sometime in May… then about two weeks prior, I was emailed and told the episode would air 30th April. The BIG SECRET was a delightful torment haha… I wanted to shout it from the roof sometimes. But after telling my wife, we decided to keep it a complete surprise. We even kept it from our kids. They knew I had gone on the show, but at the time we just told our kids we had won $1000, to put them off the scent.
So we cunningly decided to have a special surprise watching party for our family and friends. It was actually a lot of fun to have this big “secret”. Family and friends were all bamboozled, and it was quite hilarious, particularly in the week leading up to the surprise. All the theories our friends and family had, some thought we were pregnant, some thought we were moving overseas. Good fun.
So it was hilarious to watch their reactions when I finally turned on the telly to the show live, and shared the excitement with them all. I even filmed their priceless reactions. And so nice to share the night with the nearest and dearest.
SH: That’s brilliant, Judd. Well played! I’d love to know about the preparation you did for your appearance on the show. When did you start preparing (assuming you did!), and can you talk us through what you did?

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

Hello and welcome to my latest EXCLUSIVE interview, and this time it’s with Judd Field, a contestant who recently had a very good run on Millionaire Hot Seat, here in Australia. It’s a multi-parter, and Judd goes in to a lot of detail about the entire adventure… so let’s get right into it!

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SH: Judd Field, hello and welcome! Thanks so much for talking to me for HowToWinGameShows.com today. You, sir, are a certified, genuine brand new game show winner, so firstly – congratulations! Now, the show that you were on – Millionaire Hot Seat – is an offshoot of the original Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? format, but it has some significant differences, doesn’t it? Some regular visitors to this site may be unfamiliar with its format, so could you give us a quick description of how the show works?

JF: Hey thanks kind sir, pleasure to share my two cents with you! The Hot Seat version starts with six contestants sitting in random preset order. They compete in a ‘Fastest Finger First’ series of 15 questions, for a cheque for $1000. The winner of this cheque can then trade that in for a lifeline, once they get into the Hot Seat, which is when the normal Millionaire question format begins.
The Hot Seat twist is that for the other 5 contestants, there are no lifelines. However, all contestants can pass if they don’t know the answer. The next contestant then jumps in the Hot seat and has to answer that question. (They’re not allowed to pass on that question).
When a question is answered incorrectly, the player leaves the game with nothing, a new contestant jumps into the Hot seat and continues to answer from wherever the previous contestant was up to (total prize money-wise), however the potential total prize money is reduced.
So for the first question answered incorrectly, the total prize money available goes from $1,000,000 down to $500,000 and so on… reduced by one level for every incorrect answer.
This continues until the final question, and whoever is in the Hot seat for that final question either wins that final reduced amount, or wins $1000. Everyone else (except the Fastest Finger First $1000 cheque winner) walks away with nothing.
Gosh…that wasn’t exactly brief sorry, I feel like I was describing Aussie Rules footy to an American.

SH: No worries at all, love that detail! To begin with, I’d like to establish the timeline for your Millionaire Hot Seat adventure. When did you initially register your interest, or apply to go on the show?

JF: June 2018.

SH: When did you audition?
JF: August 2018.
SH: And when did you get The Call to say you were on?
JF: November 2018. Just a side note to this audition process… I think being from Melbourne, and the show being recorded in Melbourne, was an advantage in my getting on the show. The lady who sat beside me in my episode was from Perth and had auditioned 8 years ago! She had almost forgotten she had auditioned.
In my episode there were only 2 contestants from interstate.
I know it is all about ratings, and I know they want a “mixed bag” of contestants (old / young / male / female / ethnicity etc) so maybe there were too many of her “type”, and maybe my stupid abnormal hair and singing career meant I might have been a more “entertaining” choice… and so I think I got cast pretty quickly in comparison.
Knowing a bit about how TV works, I definitely played up to that angle in my audition, singing to the camera and making sure I had “entertainment value” and humour in all my audition answers.
Would you like a bit more background info about the audition?

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Tell Me Something I Don’t Know!

Hello.

Just a quick one this week – I wanted to let you know about a podcast that I’ve discovered, that you may like too. You may remember that I’ve mentioned the podcast Freakonomics a few times on this blog over the years. Well, this is their very own version of a game show. It’s called Tell Me Something I Don’t Know!, it’s a podcast, and it’s always recorded in front of a live audience.

The goal of the show isto tell you the things you thought you knew but didn’t; and things you never thought you wanted to know, but do.”

Here’s how it runs, according to the show’s official site, “Three celebrity panellists listen as contestants come on stage before a live audience and try to wow them with a fascinating fact, a historical wrinkle, a new line of research — anything, really, as long as it’s interesting, useful and true (or at least true-ish). There’s a real-time human fact-checker on hand to filter out the bull. The panel — an eclectic mix of comedians, brainiacs, and other high achievers — poke and prod the contestants, and ultimately choose a winner.”

There are no huge prizes; the whole raison d’etre of the show is to learn interesting and obscure knowledge while having fun along the way. And it delivers! I subscribe to it, and always find it entertaining and educational. So, if you’re a podcast kind of person, I recommend it. Each episode goes for just under an hour, and you’re guaranteed to learn some cool new stuff each time.

Because I firmly believe you can never have too much obscure, arcane, trivial knowledge. And this is a fun way to get it.

And that’s it for this week – until next Tuesday!

Book review – ‘How To Win TV Quiz Shows’ by CJ de Mooi

cj-de-mooi-book-cover

‘How To Win TV Quiz Shows’ by CJ De Mooi

Hello, and Happy New Year, to one and all ! Here’s hoping that 2017 is happy, healthy and fun for you… and that this is the year that all your game show dreams come true.

My first post for this year is another one of my occasional game show related book reviews. Today I’m looking at the first book by former quiz show champion, and Eggheads star CJ De Mooi. It’s called How To Win TV Quiz Shows and I picked it up as an eBook a while ago from Amazon.

It’s a quick read – just 152 pages – and although it does contain some good information, I wouldn’t say it’s an essential text book on the subject. But if you’re a fan of CJ’s slightly snarky, bitchy onscreen persona, then you’ll probably quite enjoy the ride. He writes in a breezy, chatty style, throwing in plenty of his trademark sarcastic barbs along the way.

The book begins with a potted history of CJ’s personal journey – from being quiz show contestant, to being a quiz show winner, to being a quiz show regular cast member. I must confess, I found his personality a bit hard to take during the relating of his life story. A pattern seemed to emerge in this part of the book; he’d repeatedly big-note his wins, then describe his losses as ‘injustices’, while assuring the reader that he’s over them now anyway.

An example of this comes when he relates how on one game show, he was only one second away from answering the final question in a 60 second round, when the timer went off. He complains that contestants not being able to see the clock is a major game flaw, and that this is unfair. To be fair, that’s how it’s usually done, CJ.

This very personal chapter concludes with him telling us that he’s now quit Eggheads, in order to pursue his dream of acting. And he’s happy; he goes to the gym every day, moisturises, and doesn’t care in the slightest what anyone thinks of him.

Hmm….

I can’t help thinking that if he’s telling us that he goes to the gym and moisturises every day, then he cares very much what everyone thinks of him.

Chapter 2 goes through the processes of getting on to quiz shows. This is a UK-centric book, and so the practical tips are all UK-based. He breaks down the reasons that people might have for applying for game shows and goes through them in more detail one by one. There are some useful tips here, such as the middle-aged white man (a demographic that’s generally over-represented on quiz shows) being selected time and time again due to drawing a little rainbow flag on the top of his application forms. Sometimes, positive discrimination works!

This is followed by a very comprehensive account of what you can expect on a studio record day.

Later chapters see CJ interviewing some other quiz show winners; Pat Casey (winner on The Chase and Tipping Point), serial WWTBAM contestant Paddy Spooner and British and European championship quizzer Gareth Kingston. But I’m not sure if I liked the way that he did this; rather than laying things out in a question and answer format, he’s reworked the content of the interviews into a prose, indirect speech format. Along the lines of “Paddy has an illuminating point”… “Paddy mentions his six year old daughter”, “Gareth advised always going in with a game plan”, and so on. This left me wondering exactly what CJ’s interview subjects did say to him in answer to his questions, and exactly how much has CJ paraphrased their responses.

As the book comes towards a conclusion, there’s a chapter titled ‘The Future’, which contains more practical tips about the why and how of getting on game shows – how you apply, etc., etc. It’s all sound advice, but not exactly inside knowledge. He’s a great advocate of joining an organised quizzing league (such as the ones that can be found here), which I think is certainly a good way of brushing up your knowledge, and exercising those question-answering muscles. He also recommends writing quiz questions, in order to get into the mindset of a quiz question writer. I’ve always thought that this is a great tip, and we’ve mentioned it many times here on the blog over the years.

The final chapter goes into more detail about how to write questions, and contains one list that I found interesting. It’s CJ’s Top Ten Topics that you should be well-versed in, if you’re looking for quizzing success. (I think the first one may be a bit anglo-centric, but here they are:)

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A radio interview!

Hello! Something a little bit different this week. A few weeks ago, I received a call from a radio producer in Sydney asking if I’d be interested in being interviewed by Bec De Unamuno for an ABC radio segment on game shows.

Bec De Unamuno

Bec De Unamuno

Now, I’ve known Bec for years and so was extremely happy to have a chat about this subject close to my (and, I’m guessing, your) heart. In the interview, Bec also spoke to Andrew O’Keefe, another old pal who currently hosts The Chase Australia, and hosted the Australian version of Deal Or No Deal for a number of years.

Former host of 'Deal Or No Deal' and current host of 'The Chase Australia'... Andrew O'Keefe!

Former host of ‘Deal Or No Deal’ and current host of ‘The Chase Australia’… Andrew O’Keefe!

So, if you’re interested in hearing what a game show host and a game show winner / blogger have to say, then this 18 minutes and 25 seconds of audio may be of interest to you….

The original link to the interview is over on the ABC Radio website, but if you’d prefer to play it now (or right-click and “Save As…” so you can listen to it later), then here it is below!

Enjoy!