Vale Cary Young.

I was saddened last week to hear of the passing of the great Cary Young.

When it comes to game show contestants, Cary was a Sale of the Century PHENOMENON… as you can see in this thrilling conclusion to the show’s World Championship Final in 1987. 

I’m just the right age to have grown up watching all of Cary’s Sale of the Century victories – from when he first took the show by storm in 1982, to when he won the show’s international ‘Ashes’ tournament, the ‘Commonwealth Games’ tournament, that World Championship Series in 1987, and many others besides. With his incredible general knowledge, lightning-fast reflexes, and unflappable self-discipline, Cary was a machine! Watching him compete on Sale was one part cheering him on, and one part marveling at his apparently superhuman skills… especially during the ‘Fame Game’ (“Who am I?”) questions. “How on EARTH,” we wondered, “does he get them all so quickly?” Tony – or Glenn – would read out when and where the famous person was born, and when they died, Cary would buzz in like a shot… and get the correct answer! His opposition didn’t stand a chance, as we all watched, awe-struck, from our lounge rooms. How did he achieve this amazing feat, time after time after time?

It was only years later that I found out. Cary was interviewed by Brydon Coverdale (AKA ‘The Shark’ from The Chase Australia), for Brydon’s excellent book The Quiz Masters. It was here that Cary revealed his technique; he’d meticulously research and catalogue birthdates and death dates of famous figures who he suspected would make good subjects for Fame Game questions. He spent countless hours on this, keeping all these snippets in huge, meticulously organized folders, repeatedly revising them.

And it seems this was typical of Cary‘s work ethic. He was no abstracted absent-minded genius, waiting for inspiration to strike him from out of the blue. Cary was a serious, methodical worker. As a former boxer, he brought that hardworking, disciplined training ethos to his quiz show preparations too. And it paid off. Boy, did it pay off! He had a staggeringly broad general knowledge, but his trick of learning birth dates and death dates made him virtually unbeatable.
Cary’s influence spread far and wide in the Australian quiz show community and spanned generations. Martin Flood (Million dollar winner on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?) had this to say:
“I was very fortunate to meet Cary in 2006, on the set of ‘Australia’s Brainiest Quiz Master’. Cary and I kept in touch over the years, writing each other long emails sharing our thoughts on all things quiz shows. Though there have been many talented Australian quiz show champions, there was really no one in Cary’s league. Yet he was very generous in his praise for other contestants, which I found so humbling and inspiring. After I had my only quiz show win, I received a lot of criticism. At that stage, I had not met Cary, but he was one of just a few people who had something nice to say about my win. He was also one of only a few people who took the time to send me a congratulatory card. Three years ago, he emailed me and shortly afterwards his wife Lyn contacted me to explain that she had been helping him write his emails. It saddened me so much as I knew it meant I would no longer hear from Cary. I treasure the times we spoke, and all our correspondence, as it gave me a glimpse into the thoughts of a most extraordinary mind and into the thoughts of a dear friend. Cary and Lyn made a great team. They and their family will stay in my heart.”
The only time I ever got to meet the great man was – like Martin – during the shooting of Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster.

That’s me (back row centre), and that’s Cary (front row right).

It was all very perfunctory – there’s no time to waste on a record day like that, and I was mostly concentrating on keeping my nerves in check. I don’t think there was much more than a brief handshake and a quick “Hello Cary, it’s so great to meet you”… but my massive respect for him and his daunting list of achievements was very much on my mind, as you can read in my recollections here.
I loved watching Cary’s run of success after success after success on Sale of the Century; he was a huge inspiration in convincing me to attempt to follow in his footsteps in my own small way. Cary Young was one of the greatest inspirational examples of what can be achieved in quiz shows if you have the discipline to approach it seriously, to do your homework and to train hard.
Although this feels like the end of an era, Cary’s influence will live on. My thoughts go out to Cary’s wife Lyn, his children Peter and Michelle, and his five grandchildren.

Vale Cary, and thank you for everything.

My EXCLUSIVE interview with game show winner Troy Eggleston – Part III: the conclusion

From one ‘Hot Seat’ to another…

Hello! Over the last couple of weeks, Troy and I have discussed his experiences as a contestant on Mastermind, Beat The Chasers and Hard Quiz… But in the Australian TV quiz show landscape, there are still a couple of challenges remaining…

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SH: Now Troy, I believe next month you’re scheduled to appear on Millionaire Hot Seat – what preparation or training are you doing for that?

TE: Well, I’ve already looked at your previous interviews with Millionaire Hot Seat winner Judd Field and former Hot Seat Executive Producer Steve Gilbert – they are invaluable.

SH: Oh, thank you very much.

TE: You’re welcome. I’ve also studied quite a few of the most recent episodes to see if there are any trends in the questions or the format. Other than that, I’m just doing as many quizzes as I can to get my mind ready for the big day of filming next month!

SH: Well, I wish you all the best! Any plans for other quiz-show-related adventures after that?

TE: After Millionaire Hot Seat, there’s only The Chase left, and then I’ve run out of game shows! I’ve always liked game shows, though, and I wouldn’t mind trying to get involved in them on a more permanent basis, whether it be behind the camera (question-writing, coaching, etc) or indeed in front of the camera. Nonetheless, this is my passion and I want to keep being involved…

SH: Yes, I know exactly what you mean – may your game show adventures continue for many years to come! Troy, thanks so much for speaking to me today, congratulations on your Mastermind win, all the best for Millionaire Hot Seat… and indeed for all your future quizzing endeavours!

TE: Thanks a lot Stephen, it’s been an absolute pleasure. All the best.

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And that wraps up my latest EXCLUSIVE game show winner interview, with Troy Eggleston. What a nice chap. Troy was actually brought to my attention by Adam, who’s a regular visitor to HowToWinGameShows.com, and a follower of the HTWGS Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/Howtowingameshows/)

Thanks, Adam! 

And Adam’s suggestion to interview Troy got me thinking…

Do YOU know anyone you’d like me to interview for this blog?

Or, indeed, would you like me to interview YOU?

My scope here is pretty broad. As you know, I’m interested in talking to people from every corner of the game show world; people who’ve won on game shows, and people who’ve lost on game shows. People who’ve worked on game shows (behind or in front of the camera), people who’ve studied game shows… even people who’ve conceived game shows!  

So please have a think, and if you know someone – or if you ARE someone – who’d make a good interview subject for HowToWinGameShows.com, do let me know!

You can reach me at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com.  

Thank you in advance, and let’s see who we can find!

See you soon, 

Stephen.

Oh, and remember… Mastermind is now looking for contestants for its next series! You can apply right here: https://go.mycastingnet.com/Apply/Show/Mastermind

My EXCLUSIVE interview with game show winner Troy Eggleston – Part II

Troy on the ‘Mastermind’ set, with his trophy!

Welcome back. When we left off last week, Troy and I were discussing his win on Mastermind Australia. The Mastermind format had previously been successful on Australian TV from 1978 – 1984, but Troy’s victory was on the reboot of the show, which began in 2019. Since then, there have been three more series of the show on Australia’s SBS network…

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SH: Mastermind has had four seasons now, and therefore it’s had four Grand Champions. Are there any plans for a ‘Champion of Champions’ tournament? If there were, would you be up for it?

TE: I haven’t officially heard anything from SBS about a Champions show, and to my knowledge neither have any of the other champions (we are all Facebook friends as we all live in Sydney). It would be a fantastic idea; I think it would attract a lot of interest. My students have asked me repeatedly if there will be a “GOAT show” (an acronym students use for Greatest of All Time), I would most certainly be up for it… I even have a specialty topic in mind for the show (not telling, though)!

SH: What tips or hints would you have for anyone interested in appearing on Mastermind?

TE: Make sure your topic is not too broad; make it as narrow as you can get away with. My grand final topic for the Grand Final was ‘Melbourne Cup winners 1970-2000’. Memorising the details from 31 races is a lot easier than memorising the details from 160 races! Also, don’t focus on your opponents. You can’t really control what they do. There were several points during my Mastermind run where if one of my opponents did something slightly different, you’d be interviewing someone else on your blog. There is a fair element of luck about who is in your heat and how they go. There are episodes where high scores lose and low scores win. You should only concentrate on what you can control.

SH: Roughly a year after your Mastermind victory, you competed on Beat The Chasers. That’s all general knowledge, of course, no special subjects there… but you didn’t fare quite so well on that occasion, coming away empty-handed. What are your main memories of that experience, and if you had your time over on that particular show, what do you think you’d have done differently?

TE: My biggest memory was how long the filming day was, which was a lot different to Mastermind. I went for the big money; it was always my plan as I wanted to test myself. I wasn’t in the zone that day, and I ran into a white-hot Brydon Coverdale, who did not miss a single question. At first, I was devastated. Losing on a game show was foreign to me at the time, but then I realised anyone would’ve lost in those circumstances, with Brydon doing as well as he did. I did my best. I wouldn’t have done anything differently, and it was a massive learning curve for me. A lot of quiz show champs who went on that show suffered the same fate! I wouldn’t even say I came away empty-handed, I met some people on the show that got me more into competitive quizzing which I love.

SH: Any plans to go on the regular version of The Chase Australia?

TE: I have applied for it, and I had an audition in September last year. At this stage, I haven’t heard back. I did well in the audition (according to what the producer said to me) and I am hoping to hear soon.

SH: Good luck! Now Troy, your next quiz show appearance was in September 2021, when you popped up as a contestant on Hard Quiz, with yet another special subject: ‘The Periodic Table’. Did you choose that subject? (It’d make sense if you did – you being a science teacher…)

Troy on ‘Hard Quiz’

TE: It was actually my second-choice topic, behind ‘NRL Grand Finals’. They said to me in the audition I was more likely to get on the show with a science topic, (tip for people auditioning). In hindsight, I’m glad I chose it; it helps promotes STEM in society and gets scientific thought and concepts out there. It is the obvious choice for a science teacher.

SH: In the clip from the show on YouTube, you certainly gave as good as you got – did the “attitude”/comedy element of the show distract you from the quizzing, at all?

TE: No, not really. I went on for a bit of a giggle, not to win. I knew Tom was going to have a go at me. I’ve been a teacher for 17 years now, so I’ve learned to have a thick skin and to have a few comebacks when you need them. I would’ve liked to win that one… but I ran into Rosalie, who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of her topic (How To Train Your Dragon) and did not miss a question. My topic was quite broad, but there wasn’t much I could’ve done anyway; she was too good.

SH: What are the 3 most important things you’d tell someone wanting to go on Hard Quiz–the things you wish someone had told you beforehand?

TE: Have a thick skin. Tom WILL take the mickey out of you. That’s the whole premise of the show.

Do a topic that is as narrow as you can get away with.

Be yourself at the audition, and learn to laugh at yourself!

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And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next Tuesday, as our chat concludes, the subject shifts from Hard Quiz to Millionaire Hot Seat. See you then!

Oh, and before I forget… Mastermind is now looking for contestants for its next series! You can apply right here: https://go.mycastingnet.com/Apply/Show/Mastermind

My EXCLUSIVE interview with game show winner Troy Eggleston – Part I

‘Mastermind’ champion Troy Eggleston with the Mastermind trophy, and the show’s host Jennifer Byrne.

Hello! Back in September 2019, high school science teacher Troy Eggleston was the first Grand Champion on Mastermind Australia in 35 years! He brought home the trophy with his special subject, Melbourne Cup winners. But that’s not the only area in which Troy boasts expert knowledge… nor is it the only time he’s appeared on our screens. I recently spoke to Troy about his love of quizzing, and the highs (and lows) of his various TV quiz show appearances.

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SH: Troy! Welcome, and thanks so much for speaking to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com!  

TE: Absolute pleasure, Stephen. Thanks for having me.

SH: In September 2019, you won the first (new) season of Mastermind Australia. And although it was your very first quiz show appearance, I understand that quizzing has been a passion of yours for a long time…

TE: Yes, I’ve been watching game shows for as long as I can remember. One of my first memories is watching David Poltorak scoring $200 on Sale of the Century (by the way, please bring that back, TV people!) I also enjoyed it when the really good players came back on, such as Virginia Noel, David Bock and Cary Young. I really looked up to those guys and thought it could be awesome to be like them one day. Unfortunately, Sale went off the air just as I got old enough to apply for it! I’ve always enjoyed general knowledge quizzes and trivia nights. I also enjoyed reading books that would expand my knowledge, particularly in the areas I was interested in.

SH: Your final special subject for Mastermind was Melbourne Cup winners – what inspired you to learn as much as possible about them?

TE: I have a bit of a party trick where I can memorise a list easily. Since I was a bit of a sport nut when I was a kid, I memorised lists to do with sport; Olympic host cities, NRL winners, VFL winners, Melbourne Cup Winners and so on. The Melbourne Cup has always interested me, as it’s arguably the biggest sporting event in Australia, and some of the stories involved are part of folklore, from overseas winners to drunk Governors-General awarding the cup. Unfortunately, I’m only good at telling you past Cup winners, not future ones… more often than not, the TAB keeps my money on Cup Day!

SH: You also had another two special subjects along the way – what were they, and why do they hold such fascination for you?

TE: My topic for my heat was Sir Donald Bradman. I am a big cricket fan and like studying the history of sport. ‘The Don’ is someone who is an icon of both sport and Australiana and a fascinating individual to study. I have been to the Bradman Museum many times; I absolutely love it there. I also like reading books on how others saw him. Not everyone associated with cricket has a favourable view of him and it was very interesting getting their insights.

My topic for the semi-final was World Chess Championships. I like playing chess, and when I was little, I was told to look at the games of past great players. There are plenty of books on the subject, and some of the world championship matches were epic battles. The psychology and preparation are comparable to a heavyweight boxing title fight! The psychological warfare that these players sometimes try to perform on each other is incredible. Once, a player complained about another player eating yoghurt, as he thought that player’s coaches were trying to send him a message with the flavour!

SH: When it comes to studying your special subjects, is there a particular method of studying or revision you like to use? Could you take us through it?

TE: I tried to keep all the information associated with a year, this was easier with Melbourne Cup and Chess as they only had one event per year, Bradman was a little bit harder as there was more than one thing that happened in a particular year (hence me not doing as well in that particular round). I then drew up a table with all the information in it and memorised it. It’s easier for me to memorise a table, but it will be different for everyone, as everyone’s brains work differently.

SH: Mastermind‘s Grand Prize is a magnificent engraved bowl – what did you do with it?

TE: It is currently sitting on my “wall of fame” with my sports memorabilia, next to my signed Don Bradman photo. I pull it out sometimes when friends come over. When I first won it, a lot of people wanted to see it. I get requests from the students to bring it to school and show them, but I haven’t done that so far. There are some people who say “Oh, it’s just a bowl” and laugh a bit… but to me, it means a hell of a lot more than that.

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No doubt! A hard-won trophy indeed, and richly deserved. Next week, Troy and I discuss life post-Mastermind, and he takes us through his next two quiz show appearances. See you next Tuesday!

Oh, and by the way… Mastermind is now looking for contestants for its next series! You can apply right here: https://go.mycastingnet.com/Apply/Show/Mastermind

Revisiting Russell!

Hello! Just a quick one today…

Recently, a friend* drew my attention to an interview on ABC Radio here in Australia with Sale of the Century Grand Champion Russell Cheek.

Russell Cheek

Here’s the link: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/rn-drive-tuesday-january-25/13727432 

It’s a wide-ranging chat about all of Russell’s extensive quiz show experience, but the Sale of the Century part of it starts at 29:52. 

Although I’ve interviewed Russell here (in fact, he kindly agreed to be one of my very first interviews for this site!), it’s great to actually hear him tell his story. He certainly knows how to spin a yarn! And you’ll find there are some pretty darn nifty quiz show homework tips in amongst it all, too. I hope you like it!

You can keep abreast of what Russell’s up to these days at his website http://RussellCheek.com.au/

 

 

 

* Fun fact: the friend was actually game show host and producer Michael Pope, who also agreed to be interviewed for this site, a while back… 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with game show producer Steve Marshall – Part 5

Hello, and welcome back.

When we left off last week, Steve was telling us about his first gig as a fully-fledged producer – the Name That Tune-style game show Keynotes, which replaced Sale of the Century during Sale‘s production break in summer 92/93…

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SH: And after producing Keynotes… you went back to Sale, I think?

SM: Yeah.

SH: Which leads me to a very specific question… would you have been there in September 1994, by any chance?

SM: I was. And I did look at that clip on your Facebook page, which features a very young (and-slightly-less-hirsute-on-the-cheek-and-a-bit-more-hair-upstairs) Stephen Hall. But I hate to say this, Hally; that episode didn’t ring too many bells. But I was there at that stage, yeah. I would’ve been the guy chatting to you in the ad breaks and saying “you’re doing well” and “keep it up”, you know.

SH: I’m certainly not surprised you don’t recall that particular episode – over the years you must have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of contestants!

SM: Yeah, yeah, literally hundreds. And three contestants per show, so… but you did get to know some of them. I always say, nobody ever won Sale of the Century through “good luck”; all the winners were good players. (Some more likable than others). And that’s why I asked you earlier if it changed your life because it was a life-changing thing to win such a big wad of cash tax-free, and all those prizes. And generally speaking, most of the contestants were all really great people. And they enjoyed being there.

SH: Did you ever cross paths with Quiz Master Cary Young?

That’s Cary there.

SM: Oh, yeah! Well, Cary had made a name for himself before I got involved, back in the early days of Sale, as one of the big winners. And they used to get him back whenever they had World Championship tournaments, where they’d fly in great quizmasters from the UK, and America, Asia. Cary was always one of the leading players from Australia – probably the best I ever saw. Cary Young used to memorize birth dates and death dates of famous people. So, whenever it came to a ‘Who Am I?” question, they’d go, “I was born in London in 1852 and died in 1886”. Bang, straight away, he’d know who it was. Most other contestants would need a few more clues to work out who that was. Cary also had an innate understanding that when you buzzed in, the host would always get probably two more words out after you buzzed. I mean, Tony would say, “Who is the captain of the Australian -”, Cary would buzz in, and then Tony would say “cricket team”, before saying Cary’s name. Then Cary would answer “Greg Chappell.”

SH: Because after the host says your name, you still have another three seconds.

SM: Yeah, you got three seconds to think about it. Yeah. So, Cary was a master, not only of general knowledge, but also in the technical way he played Sale of the Century. And a lot of the better players had little quirks like that. Because the thing with the Sale of the Century was that you were competing against two other players. So, it wasn’t just a general knowledge quiz, it was also a test of speed as to how quickly you can get the opportunity to answer. And all the good players had that speed.

SH: Yes. When I was speaking to David Poltorak recently, he said he used to watch the show at home and compete against the people on the screen in his lounge. I loved hearing that because that’s exactly what I did, too. And I really believe that gives you such an edge over the people who just turn up to the show going, “Well, you can’t really study for it, can you? It’s just general knowledge…”

SM: And you reaped the rewards, as some of the better players did. But there were plenty of people who thought “I’ll just get up and give it a go”, or “I’ll give it a chance, we’ll see what happens. I might win a new kettle from the gift shop, and I’ve been on telly! That’s a good day’s work!” Whereas the good players like yourself and all the other big winners, there’s a lot more to it than that. They are prepared. It is like training for a marathon or a sporting event.

SH: Yeah.

SM: And the better players all had that brutal competitive edge. They didn’t want to just win the money. I mean, sure – that’s a fantastic byproduct of winning the show! But it was as much for the competition and proving that they were the best player over the course of a week. And again, I liken it to an athlete. You don’t see too many people in the world of sport reach the top without having that killer instinct.

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“Killer instinct” – I like it! And Steve’s point is well made; if you’re serious about game show success, you really do need that ruthless, competitive streak. Of course, you can be – and you should be – as pleasant and polite as possible… but there really should be that unshakable confidence, focus and determination bubbling away underneath. That’s certainly something I tried to achieve in my game show adventures, and (unsurprisingly), I highly recommend taking that approach!

Until next Tuesday, this is Stephen “Killer” Hall signing off. 

A game show winner’s cautionary tale – Part 2

Kristi, on ‘the MASTER’ in 2006.

Last week, game show winner Kristi Milley was telling us about her rollercoaster ride on 2006’s the MASTER. She’d won $41,100 on the show in August, only to see it get cancelled after its first episode! She wasn’t in the episode that did go to air, so she’d resigned herself to not receiving her winnings. BUT THEN the network played all the remaining, unaired episodes of the show in December 2006…

All the unaired episodes, that is, EXCEPT for Kristi’s one. Once again, any hopes she had of receiving her winnings were dashed.

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SH: And you thought that was that the end of your the MASTER story? Seeing the network broadcast every episode of the show except yours?

KM: That’s exactly it. Occasionally I would see the show repeated on TV, but I just filed it away as a fun experience.

Bye bye.

SH: But then….?

KM: But then by chance, in early 2020, my great aunt (who’s 88) just happened to be watching daytime TV… and there I was, answering questions! She called my nan who phoned me, the whole family chain, to ask why I didn’t let her know I was going to be on TV. I cried and phoned everyone I knew, to work out what my next steps were… to get the $$$.

SH: Back in 2006, did you sign a standard agreement before the show? And did you get a copy of the agreement? Was one offered to you at the time?

KM: I feel like I signed something, but if I ever had a copy of the agreement, it has long since been turfed. I remember clearly being told that if the show didn’t air, we would get the money. I tried very hard to contact Channel 7 myself but got fobbed off, so I had to get a lawyer to act on my behalf.

SH: Was the network reluctant to pay you? 

KM: The network ignored me. It took a bit of work for the lawyer to get Seven to even acknowledge that I needed to be paid. So, I lost a chunk of my winnings as legal fees, which would have been nice to avoid. I have a suspicion that all the episodes only ever aired on 7Two (in 2020, where Kristi’s great aunt saw it) for the first time, and they didn’t know that mine hadn’t aired before. In the end, they paid, but I don’t think they even checked the episode… as I only got paid $41,000 instead of (the amount I won) $41,100.

SH: So what did you do with your winnings, when you finally, FINALLY got your hands on them?

KM: In the end, waiting 15 years for my prize winnings was a blessing. If I’d been paid as a 21-year-old, it would’ve all gone on a holiday. Being paid in my mid-30s gave me the deposit for my first home. A decade as a student completing my PhD had not given me any savings! So, during Melbourne’s second lockdown in late 2020, I purchased my first home. It’s made an amazing difference to my life.

KM: That’s fantastic, Kristi – congratulations! Were there any lessons you learned from your experience you could pass on to any aspiring quiz show contestants?

KM: I think I’ve learnt more on reflection, watching my episode back, than on the day itself. I think I was lucky I had a background in theatre; it helped me feel more comfortable in a new, stressful environment. Watching myself, I just saw I was someone that gave every question a shot. A lot of the time, the answer is sitting somewhere in your brain; it’s just trusting enough to say it out loud. I also didn’t have a fast reaction time and I think that is something I could have worked on before the recording. Lastly, chance played a big part in my win. Understanding that and just going for it was important.

SH: Your appearance on the MASTER was 15 years ago now. Did you go on any other quiz shows or game shows after that? Do you still have the quizzing bug?

KM: I did also appear on Deal or No Deal. I haven’t really applied for any shows since. I’m just biding my time until they bring back Wheel of Fortune and Sale of the Century!

SH: Kristi, thanks so much again for talking to me today – I’ve really enjoyed hearing your story, and I know that a lot of our visitors will too!

KM: Thanks for the invite. It was nice to reflect on my experience.

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So there you have it – very much a case of “Good Things Come To Those Who Wait”.* I’d like to thank Kristi so much again for sharing her story, with all its ups and downs. And I’m so glad it had such a happy ending for her… even if it did take a decade and a half to arrive!

 

 

 

* … and also To Those Who Get A Good Lawyer And Don’t Take ‘No’ For An Answer.

A game show winner’s cautionary tale – Part 1

Hello! As I’ve frequently pointed out here, it’s a game show truism that “If your episode doesn’t air, you don’t get your winnings”. This is standard game show practice, and it’s usually written into contestant agreements, to officially remind people not to count their chickens before they’ve hatched.

Today’s interview really brings this home. I’m very pleased to be speaking today to Kristi Milley – a winning contestant on 2006’s the MASTER, who knows about this particular aspect of game shows only too well…

SH: Kristi! Thank you so much for talking to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com. By way of background, what was your life like before going you appeared on the show? Had you been interested in quizzing and game shows for a long time? And what, in particular, inspired you to try out for the MASTER?

KM: I was in my second year of Uni and loved my weekly pub trivia with friends. I was the quintessential poor student and I think trying out for the MASTER was part of a get- rich-quick scheme! I also went on Deal or No Deal the same year. I got to hold a briefcase but didn’t win anything.

SH: Can you talk us through the audition / interview process for the show?

KM: It’s such a long time ago now, all the details are fuzzy. I remember having to fill out a long personal bio, maybe have my photo taken and complete a paper-based general knowledge questionnaire. Then a few weeks later, I was contacted to say I had made it to the next round.

SH: Your special subject was The Human Body (which makes sense, since you were a medical science student at the time); did you do any specific training for going on the show?

KM: I winged everything! I didn’t even think to prep for the show. How silly is that?

SH: Can you talk a bit about the studio experience itself? What did you notice about other contestants and the way they handled it?

KM: I had a really great experience on the day itself. I was only 21 at the time and remember feeling very young compared to the other contestants. I’d never had my make-up done professionally before, and I had to bring a couple of outfit options, which was all very exciting.

All the other contestants were very friendly, and I didn’t get the sense that any of them regularly tried out for game shows. We were all like deer in the headlights when we started to record. The host Mark Beretta really made us feel comfortable and kept up the small talk between takes to help relax the contestants. A few of the other contestants had a friend or family member in the audience, which made them feel more at ease. As it was a brand new format, we were all on a level playing field. My episode was also the very first to be recorded in the series. So, I don’t think contestants really had the opportunity to have a strategy. This had an impact in the Special Subject round, where you lost points for incorrect answers… but we didn’t really get a chance to think how big an impact that would have. I essentially won the show because one of the contestants performed very poorly with his Special Subject and lost all the points he’d built up before that.

SH: Were there any elements of the show itself – the studio audience, the MASTER himself (Martin Flood), the speed of proceedings, the physicality of the set, the brightness of the lights, or even the loudness of the music – that surprised you?

KM: The brightness of the lights was quite intense – I was sweating up a storm! Note to budding game show contestants: don’t wear a woollen cardigan! And having Martin watching the game and commenting added an extra layer of intensity to the experience.

SH: In the heat of battle, during the actual playing of your game, what moments – either good or bad – stick in your mind?

KM: 15 years later, I still remember the questions I answered incorrectly that I should have known. The other thing that’s never left me is my terrible banter with Martin between questions in the final segment.

SH: Oh, I think you’re being a bit hard on yourself there. After all, you did win your episode, and a cool $41,100!

SH: … But then, in August 2006, a few weeks after your record, the MASTER premiered on the Seven Network, only to be axed after just one episode! (And unfortunately, that episode was not the one you were in). How did you feel when you heard the show had been cancelled?

KM: Gutted – what 21-year-old doesn’t have plans for their winnings? I was heading to the UK not long after filming, for a placement with my undergraduate studies, and the winnings were going to help pay for my flights and accommodation.

SH: BUT then four months later (during the non-ratings period), the network decided to air the six remaining episodes of the show…. or did they? I’m guessing you tuned in to watch the remaining episodes in December 2006?

KM: The way I remember it was they did air the one episode (in August) and then the rest all aired during the non-ratings period, yes. They had said they’d contact us to let us know when our episode would air, but I was never contacted. And (in December) they aired every episode… bar mine! So, I figured that was it – my pilot episode didn’t make the cut. 

SH: And you thought that was that the end of your the MASTER story? Seeing the network broadcast every episode except yours?

KM: That’s exactly it. Occasionally I would see the show repeated on TV, but I just filed it away as a fun experience.

SH: But then….?

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But then… Kristi’s story continues! It’s far from over, and there are more twists and turns ahead. So join us back here next Tuesday, when all will be revealed…..

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.

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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!