EXCLUSIVE interview with behind-the-scenes game show legend Michael Whyte – Part III

Game show legend Mr Michael Whyte!

Game show legend Mr Michael Whyte!

Hello again! As Part Three of the interview begins, I felt it would be very remiss of me not to ask Michael this one…


SH: You would have seen, over the years, many big winners in quiz shows and game shows… did they have anything in common; was there something different in their approach or technique – or even their demeanour – that made them champions?

MW: I think that when you talk about Sale (of the Century), those that know the show and were there for a long time, they talk about Cary Young

SH: Yes I remember him. 

MW: What was it about Cary Young? Cary Young was the man that was totally focussed… because he came back a number of times; championships against different countries and different people and all that kind of stuff. He would literally train, because he was a boxer. So he would run, and a couple of months out, he would start his training and physically be alert and ready. 

SH: Was it just physical training or did he study specifically for the quiz??

MW: He totally studied. He could say to you, when a Fame Game question came up, it might be something like “I was born in 1965”… and he would buzz and he would spit out an answer, and I reckon about 75% of the time he was right! I was saying to him afterwards “why are you coming in so early?” And he would say “I know pretty much every  question that is being asked about someone who was born in 1965, so I can rule out the ones that have been asked already and I’ve got the small list left”. 

SH: From watching the show? He made notes on the show and previous versions and episodes of the show?

MW: Absolutely, every show. He watched every show.

SH: And made notes obviously. 

MW: Yes. The other one that used to do that was Molly Meldrum.

SH: Really? 

MW: Oh yeah. He used to watch it overnight. Vastly educated man in different ways and he knew so much. Ultimately we had him on Millionaire, and he won half a million dollars. 

SH: Yes, I remember that. And I’ve never seen anyone look more nervous in my life. He was very, very stressed indeed.

MW: It nearly killed him. And there was vodka and orange going to him on a regular basis…

SH: (LAUGHS) I didn’t know that. 

MW: He said “I can’t stand it!” And that was live! He literally nearly fell over. Then we had Red Symons, he was very cocky on a particular answer for half a million. And I can’t remember the question, but the answer was “an architect”, and his wife who was in the audience had studied architecture so she knew the answer. And he thought he did, and he went “of course that’s what it is – lock in (B)” and it wasn’t.

SH: Oh dear.

MW: And he was devastated, absolutely devastated. And I think from memory A Current Affair then did a story on him and said “okay, well here’s the Million Dollar question – see if you can answer it”… and he did. 

SH: Rub salt into the wound!

MW: Yes exactly! Those people who end up going all the way and winning shows like that. Just focus, just totally focus. They’re not so nervous about the television side of things anymore. It’s just focus and a bit of a calmness and it does help if they’re fit in mind and body then they can focus in on what they are doing at the time. And that means sometimes cracking jokes and another times not saying anything. I think the best example of that was really early on in the piece in Sale. I can’t remember his name, but he was a reverend, and he wore the dog collar, he was from Perth. And for a week, Sale‘s ratings were 52s! Now 52s were only beaten by I think the Lionel Rose / Alan Rudkin fight –

SH: Ok. 

MW: – And the Seekers concert, out at the Myer Music Bowl.

SH: Oh that was a massive hit.

MW: Yeah. But this was 52 every night. And that equated to something like 85% of the audience were watching it. And he said nothing, he just sat there and answered questions. 

SH: Then what was the draw card?

MW: He was just totally focused. No personality, but everyone looked at him and went “How amazing! Let’s just watch this guy do it.” 

SH: And he went all the way, I guess?

MW: Yeah, yeah, he did.  And was never really challenged. He then disappeared. 

SH: Right. Back to Perth. 

MW: That was it. 


And I think there’s a lesson in that. If you do get called up as a quiz show contestant, don’t feel the need that you have to be funny or wacky or “entertaining”, if it doesn’t feel comfortable for you. You’re not there to crack jokes or sing and dance… you’re there to answer questions correctly. Don’t forget that, because that’s entertaining in and of itself – that’s why people watch these shows. In other words, be yourself – don’t try to be something you’re not. You’ve got enough to worry about up there, without putting yourself under that additional pressure! Next week, I ask Michael about some of the worst contestants he’s ever seen. Or in other words, what not to do when you’re a contestant on a game show… Until then, then! 

EXCLUSIVE interview with serial game show contestant Vicky Jacobs – Part I

How To Win Game Shows Vicky Jacobs

Vicky Jacobs

A brand new interview for you this week, with someone who’s “been there and done that” a number of times! Vicky Jacobs is a musician, musical director and vocal coach, but she’s also a serial game show contestant, having appeared as a contestant on at least five different game shows. In fact, it could even be said that game shows are in Vicky’s blood, being, as she is, the daughter of a genuine Sale of the Century champion. I was curious to ask Vicky about her diverse game show adventures, and whether she had any hard-won tips, drawn from her wide and varied experience.

And so I did. 


SH: Vicky, welcome and thanks for chatting to me today for www.HowToWinGameShows.com

VJ: My pleasure!

SH: I’d like to start our chat today by hearing about your dad – you mentioned he was a Sale of The Century champion. When was that, and what did he win?

VJ: I think it was 1992. He’d won all the prizes except for the car and was playing for the car when he got beaten. It was the fifth episode they’d filmed that day and I think he was probably a bit tired and hungry by that stage. But we won heaps of cool stuff! It kept turning up at the house for months – all the game show classics: saucepans, luggage, ski gear, a home gym, a giant Garfield (still got it!) and we even got a family trip to Vanuatu… so not a bad couple of days work!

SH: How did your dad’s win change your family’s life?

VJ: I’m not sure I’d say it changed our lives significantly, but was definitely lots of fun while it was happening and a real talking point at school (I was in Year 8 at the time)!

SH: Was it your dad’s win that started your fascination with game shows? Or did you “catch the bug” later in life?

VJ: Funnily enough, Mum had actually done Sale of the Century first – she didn’t win her episode but did bring home some prizes so I think she probably gave the bug to all of us. Who doesn’t love free stuff?!  My whole family loves a game of Trivial Pursuit and are highly competitive, so it was kind of inevitable! 

SH: Which was your first game show appearance? Would that have been Greed, in 2001? How did you go during that appearance, and looking back now, was there anything you would have done differently?

VJ: I’ll start this story by pointing out that I was quite young and didn’t know much stuff in 2001. But essentially what happened was: I got a 50/50 question wrong which lost our team $100,000 and put us out of the competition. And that wasn’t the worst bit! The worst bit was being put in a room with them after I’d stuffed it up, while they filmed the rest of the episode. Small talk with strangers who hate your guts – not the funnest hour of my life! I’m not sure I would have done anything differently, as it was a luck-of-the-draw type situation: I simply didn’t know the answer. For anyone playing at home, the question was “Which of these is a currency: ‘punt’ or ‘kind’?”  I now know it’s ‘punt‘ !

SH: Then a few years later, you were a contestant on Temptation (the rebooted version of Sale of the Century). What advice and / or training did your dad give you, as you prepared to go on? After all, he’d been there and done that…

VJ: Dad told me to buy everything that was offered to me!  It was great advice for that particular competition. I was ahead for much of the game so I took everything that was offered. I got beaten in ‘Fast Money’, but when I did the maths afterwards, I still wouldn’t have won if I hadn’t bought, so it was excellent advice.

SH: And what did you end up winning on Temptation? Continue reading

Sort of an update, sort of not an update…

Just a quick one this week, as I prepare to start rehearsals in Sydney for Fawlty Towers Live*….
For those of you who don’t know, a few weeks ago, I appeared on the Seven Network’s Weekend Sunrise program, to talk about How To Win Game Shows. It was a fun chat, and I’m very grateful to my old friend, ‘Weekend Sunrise’ host Andrew O’Keefe for helping to make it all happen. The link to the official video of it is here, but I just wanted to let you know that I’ve also uploaded a version of it to the How To Win Game Shows Facebook page, which you can find here.
Enjoy… If you can.
* And on the subject of rehearsals, it looks like the next few weeks are going to be pretty hectic for me, professionally. I’ll endeavour to keep bringing you new posts each Tuesday during this time, but my work schedule may necessitate a few gaps in regular posts here on the site. I do have a couple of multi-part interviews up my sleeve, that I should be able to post in the next few weeks. I’ll keep you updated, of course, but I would ask you to please bear with me, and I apologise in advance for any interruptions to the regular weekly Tuesday posts.
Thank you very much, I’ll be in touch again soon… and Don’t Mention The War !

My very first interview with a winner of ‘The Chase’ – Part II

Last week, I posted Part I of my interview with 35-year-old digital producer, and winner of The Chase: Australia, Andy Zito. We discussed auditioning, preparation and training, and left off just as Andy was about to play the game, against the Chaser known as “The Shark”; Brydon Coverdale. This week, we move on to the nitty gritty of actually playing the game… 
SH: It seems there’s some strategy involved in The Chase; knowing how much to risk and when. Were there any long discussions or arguments amongst your team over elements of strategy?
AZ; So in our edition the rules were slightly different. On a regular episode of The Chase, each player has a Cash Builder round, and then immediately wagers that cash (or accepts a higher / lower offer for great risk / advantage), hoping to bring back their cash to the team kitty. In our episode, Louise and I both played the Cash Builder rounds, then our combined cash amount was wagered against the Chaser, with us nominating Louise to face off on the board. We decided not to accept the higher offer because we felt our combined offer was so high that the risk wasn’t worth an extra $5k each.
SH: In the heat of battle, during the actual playing of your game, what moments – either good or bad – stick in your mind?
AZ: It seems, watching the show, that every single player in the Cash Builder round is shocked to see how much they’ve built, mainly because they seem to miss so many or say ‘pass’ so often. I felt exactly the same way. I came out with $12k, which seems to me to be about the average, and was pleased, but definitely had no idea I’d done well in that section! I also knew that – given I’d only be doing my Cash Builder round and the Final Chase – I’d have a good chunk of the episode to just take it all in and relax before the Final Chase. By the time we got to the Final Chase, I was ready for a buzz-off and it proved to be where I came good! A great, instant revelation in the Final Chase was that Louise had a tiny little auditory ‘tell’ when she didn’t know something, and given that you have to buzz in to pass, which means waiting long enough to see if your teammate will buzz in, I was able to buzz in to pass VERY quickly, which really helped us get as far along as we did. The best thing about playing with Louise was that our areas of knowledge complemented each other so perfectly, we really were pretty unbeatable across all topics!
SH: How much did you win, and what did you do with your winnings?
AZ: I took home half of our $34,000 prize, and have my $17k still sitting in my bank account! My wife and I have a tiny little bathroom fix up in mind, but really it’s more about buying time for us – a holiday, some time off, something like that.
SH: Now that you’ve “been there and done that”, do you have any advice for those following in your footsteps?

Continue reading

My very first interview with a winner of ‘The Chase’ – Part I

andyz_chaseIn November 2015, 35-year-old digital producer Andy Zito was a contestant on the hit quiz show   The Chase: Australia. In a result that bucked the usual trend of the show, Andy and his teammate Louise Harper actually managed to beat ‘The Chaser’; in this case, Brydon “The Shark” Coverdale… taking home a cool $34,000 for their efforts. Andy kindly agreed to talk to me about his game show experience, for www.HowToWinGameShows.com.

SH: Andy, thanks very much for speaking to me today.

AZ: A pleasure!

SH: What inspired you to try out for The Chase: Australia? Had you been interested in quizzing and game shows for a long time?

AZ: I’m a huge fan of trivia and quiz shows in general, and will more or less watch any quiz format available to me, even down to asking my wife to read me the quiz from the paper. I just really, really enjoy seeing if I know stuff, and then seeing if I can remember stuff. I certainly made it my business as a young kid to watch Sale of the Century whenever I could, which was pretty much every night, and was really excited to see a quiz show that relied on buzzer speed, question strategy and general knowledge than pure luck – after a hair-splitting, one question loss in the ‘fast money’ on Million Dollar Minute I was keen to have another serious crack at winning some cash, too!

SH: Can you talk us through the audition / interview process for The Chase: Australia?

AZ: From memory it was all pretty straightforward. I’d seen the ‘quiz show’ ads on air during the UK Chase screenings, and could tell – given it was an ITV studios production and by the style of the commercial – that it would likely be for The Chase: Australia, and so I went to the website to fill out the form. A short time later they were in touch on the phone for a quick chat and a short quiz – I felt confident I’d done OK, but they never tell you how you go in the audition quizzes! After that, we were asked to come in and meet in a group for a bigger audition, some talking to camera prep and a quiz game. At that point it was simply a waiting game to see if we’d get the call up…

SH: How long was it between the audition day and getting THE CALL that you’d been selected to go on the show?

AZ: I can’t quite remember, but it was perhaps a week or so. They said I’d be called up with dates soon after. A little later I was informed that I’d been chosen to take part in a special ‘Cup Day’ episode, which would be a two player version and would run for 30 minutes instead of the usual 60. This struck me as a GREAT idea, as I felt the odds would be more in my favour, but I can’t really say exactly why… We filmed my episode in the middle of September, and it aired November 2.

SH: What did you do by way of preparation for going on the show?

Continue reading

A surprising challenge from Hamish & Andy…

Hamish and Andy


So yesterday afternoon, I was lucky enough to pop up on Hamish & Andy’s afternoon radio show, to talk about game shows, how to win them, and of course my eBook How To Win Game Shows. But if you know Hamish & Andy, you’d know that they don’t tend to do run-of-the-mill, ordinary interviews. They’re always after ways of making things a little more quirky, a little more competitive, a little more fun…


Exclusive interview with ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Temptation’ Champion Blair Martin – Part VIII – FINAL Jeopardy!

Blair-Winning-Reaction-DSC_This week, my interview with Jeopardy! champion and Temptation Grand Champion Blair Martin comes to a close.

When we left off last week, Blair was outlining all the amazing travel opportunities that his win on Temptation had made possible. But, as you’ll see, his competitive streak is still alive and well. Once a trivia buff, always a trivia buff…..


BM: These experiences that I’ve had, I am really grateful for them. I regularly go to a weekly pub trivia – that has been running for over 20 years – that has a core group of about eight teams who regularly turn up, and I play as a solo team. It is a little bit of my own internal fight. It is me versus 40 other people. 

SH: You’d give them a run for their money, I would think! What advice would you give to someone wanting to go on a quiz show?

BM: Enjoy the experience. Even if it is 20 minutes only on television, you’ve got an experience that millions of people in Australia would love to have, but will never have the guts to do it. Also knowing that you have already got past the selection process. You have already won in some way. If you want to prepare for it, get your mind going. My definition of intelligence is having an open mind, not a vacant mind. Because too many people in our contemporary society have vacant minds that get filled up with whatever garbage is pushed at them. Whether it’s a political spin line about being afraid of a ragtag bunch of religious fundamentalists who are fighting in a far off country who have no direct influence on this country, or who is cooking the best Crème Brulee under completely artificial conditions, whether sport is the absolute be-all and end-all… which I think is ridiculous. I think in a well-rounded life, sporting prowess or appreciation of sport is as valuable as the appreciation of music, of literature, of arts, of science, of faith, of politics. I think you have to have a balance. When I was in Ireland, I heard an Irishman mutter “I’ve always believed in the saying ‘everything in moderation’… including moderation.”

SH: (LAUGHS) That’s good! I like that.

BM: So that, to me, is the success of it. If your mind is opened and you can read widely and develop a sense of the curious. You want to be able to just keep your mind fresh. The internet is a fantastic gift, that you can sit there and just start WWILFing on! (“WWILF” is an expression Blair mentioned earlier. It stands for ‘What Was I Looking For?’ – SH) Get on and go round and round and just look for stuff….. and always back yourself. If you believe you can do it, then you are half way there. When Andrew Skarbec won the million on Million Dollar MinuteI really admired his fortitude to keep going.

SH: Yeah, that’s gutsy.

BM: I know that pressure. When you think that you’re filming five episodes in a day… by the middle of the afternoon, everyone’s getting tired and it is a special kind of stamina. I really appreciate the way people are able to do that. Hey, it’s been lovely to talk to you, Stephen. 

SH: Oh, my pleasure, Blair. Thank you so much again.


There you have it. I’d like to thank Blair again for this great chat, and for giving so generously of his time. If you’re interested to see what Blair’s up to these days, you can follow him on Twitter, at @BlairmartinSEE, or check his website at www.seentertainment.com.au.

And speaking of websites*, here’s another one:  howtowingameshows.com/products. That’s where you can get my eBook How To Win Game Shows, still at the price of $19.99 AUD.


*This has been another in my series of patented Ludicrously-Tangential-eBook-Plugs-At-The-End-Of-My-Weekly-Post, for your enjoyment and edification. I thank you.

Next week on www.howtowingameshows.com, my first book review in… well, quite a while. Until then!

Exclusive interview with ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Temptation’ Champion Blair Martin – Part VII

Cover Boy - CopyIn 2007, actor Blair Martin completed an incredible 8-night winning streak on the Australian game show Temptation, taking home a prize pool worth over $600,000 for his efforts. Over those eight nights – which were recorded over two separate sessions, two weeks apart – I wondered if Blair’s resolve to go “all the way” had ever wavered. 

So I asked him.


BM: In my run on Temptation, Stephen, there was never really ever a thought of “No, no, no”. Even that second episode, the near-death experience. And I’m so glad that was at the end of the taping day because it allowed me to go away for two weeks and go back to my normal life. And I went back two weeks later and Jess (the contestant co-ordinator) asked me if I’d told anyone and I said “no, no, I signed an agreement”. And she looked at me and went “that meant not telling any of your journo mates”.

I’m in the union with them – do you reckon I’m gonna tell them anything?” (LAUGHS)

I went “no, you’ve asked me to do something, and that’s it”. The closest I ever came to telling anyone? At the time in 2007, I had two cats and my next door neighbour would often look after them when I was gone. I was literally walking down the corridor of Brisbane airport to the departure gate on Sunday night and I rang and I said “I have to get back to Melbourne and I am on my way now. Would you mind looking after the boys when I am gone?” And she was like “yeah, sure… Melbourne?” And I went “Yeah, see you later!”

Even on Jeopardy!, my then-housemate made a comment about one of the episodes of Jeopardy! and said “the woman on tonight seems really good”. She won some smallish amount of money, and I just turned to him and said “she’s a f*****g amateur”. And he looked at me and said “You’re blitzing them, aren’t you?” And I just went “I can’t say anything”.

My favourite quote of Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart in the original House of Cards is “You might very well think that I couldn’t possibly comment”.

SH: (LAUGHS) Very good. The Temptation run; you were on for 8 nights, a grand total of $603,002 in cash and prizes. How did that make a difference in your life?

BM: A huge amount of difference. It allowed me to expand the work that I was doing as a performer. I could do things that I wasn’t able to do before, and the biggest one was travel. I had not ever been able to cross the equator and go to Europe, where I’d always wanted to go. A couple of years after Temptation, I went there quite a number of times and it was the best experience. I absolutely adore travelling. I love going to other places, because of the opportunity to see the differences – and the similarities – in all of the cultures.

I really thank Temptation for allowing me to realise my dreams. It’s an experience that financially helped an awful lot for a few years and it gave me freedom to explore things that I would have never had the opportunity to do and that exploration of who I am is particularly great. There’s a number of things that certainly lead on to being who you are. When you get put on the cover of a magazine declaring you to be one of ‘The 25 LGBT People To Watch In 2015’, you do realise that your life is a little bit different… 
Sometimes you forget, because as I grew up, I was afraid to big-note myself; that great Australian expression; “Stop big-noting yourself”. Now I had heard that and I don’t decry my parents for saying it, because it was part of the culture, and it was a good thing to know. In one way, it’s like ‘just be careful that you don’t over-aggrandize yourself, because you don’t know what that consequence could be.’

The problem was that when you’re a sensitive child, it can impact on a child’s sense of self-worth and then you spend a lot of time thinking ‘I am really not very good, am I?’ And trying to do something which is good I will get criticized or punished for it. People look at me now in a way of saying “Oh my god, you always look so heroic”. To me there is a sense of wanting to be useful. Here is the Gandhi idea of “be the change you wish to see”,
 or Mandela’s ”It’s only impossible until it is done.” 

SH: Blair, I wonder if that is a particularly Australian thing. I was brought up with a bit of that as well; “Yes, yes, acting’s all very fine and good as a hobby, but as a career? You’ve got to have something to fall back on”. All these beliefs we’re indoctrinated with, all about our limits, our limitations. When you step outside that, and dare to ask the question “Well, what if there weren’t limits?”, amazing things can happen. And they do – they happen every day. 


And that’s where I’d like to leave it today, on that boldly positive note. And it is something I really do believe, by the way. From my own personal experience, there have been so many times in my life where I’ve been surprised at what I’ve been capable of achieving, simply by having the bravery / belief / stupidity to ‘Step Off The Edge’.

I highly recommend it. If the opportunity presents itself, I challenge you to ‘Step Off The Edge’ at least once this coming week. Find something you’re not sure you could manage, but that you’d like to do… and take that Leap of Faith in yourself. What’s the worst that could happen?

Be positive!

Just like I’m positive that there are still stocks of my very first eBook How To Win Game Shows, available right here still at the introductory price of just AU$19.99 !

This has been an unpaid announcement as part of a series of ludicrously tangential eBook plugs at the end of my weekly post.

Written and authorised by S. Hall, Melbourne, Australia.  





Exclusive interview with ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Temptation’ Champion Blair Martin – Part VI

blair-martin - Copy

Blair Martin, whose Twitter handle is @blairmartinSEE

As this antepenultimate instalment of my Blair Martin interview begins, we spend some time chatting about how to improve your general knowledge. It’s no surprise that game shows in general – and quiz shows in particular – tend to be won by contestants with above average general knowledge. But how do you get an above average general knowledge? How do you bump your general knowledge up to that level? Here are Blair’s thoughts.


BM: At the time of Temptation, some of the press I did afterwards, I was asked about the storage of knowledge and how you do it. I said there’s been a term coined: “WWILF”, which stands for “What Was I Looking For?” You know on the internet where you go on to do something, and then you start getting dragged off into other areas? And I said “I’ve now got an answer for what I do with these things”. That’s how I get all these fascinating facts. I’ll go and look for something and then another something will drag me off and that branches off to something else. I am endlessly fascinated by facts.

SH: It pays to be naturally curious, I think.

BM: To be genuinely interested in things. There are only a few subjects that can completely blank me and I couldn’t be interested in them if you paid me… but I am sure if you paid me I could probably do something! (LAUGHS)

SH: Muster up some degree of interest, yes! On Temptation did you have an overarching strategy? Were you thinking “I’m going to go as far as I can, come hell or high water”? Or was there a cut-off point where you thought “oh, I’ll be happy with that”?

BM: I don’t think so because I was actually filmed over three days. I think the real horror would be sitting on seven wins and then having to come back for the next taping block two weeks later. So you’d have two whole weeks of hanging on tenterhooks; I just had overnight. (Before the final show) the Exec Producer said to me, “How did you sleep last night?” I said, “Not really.” She said “Me neither. We haven’t had a win since Tracy (Korsten, some seven months earlier)”. They were kind of hanging for someone and they were all a bit “we really hope you get there”, and I said “Oh, we’ll see what happens”. I don’t think there was any real desire to retire at any point, because honestly I don’t think there were any of the prizes, apart from the first night prize (a home entertainment system) – which I am sitting in front of at the moment – or the second night prize (a lounge suite) – which I am actually sitting on… Oh, there was a motorbike, but I thought “I can’t take the motorbike, because my father used to be a motorcyclist and when he started dating my mother in the fifties, my mother’s parents told him ‘you can only keep dating our daughter if you stop riding a motorbike!’” And that became another part of the contestant colour in that episode of Temptation.

In the end, it was like “Look. I’m here. I am enjoying this”. There is only one other close-ish episode, and that was that rather aggressive woman from Brisbane and honestly I enjoyed playing the Fast Money. And I loved being able to get to the end and see “can you get ten questions right in one minute?”

SH: That’s fun. People sort of forget that – It is challenging, but it is exciting, and fun. Even now, when I play just watching at home, against other shows like Million Dollar Minute – just playing along is a buzz; I love it.

BM: One of my early morning things is watching Eggheads. And there’s an endless sense of fascination in learning stuff.

SH: Yes, learning new things.


There you have it – CURIOSITY. While it’s a trait that may not be all that beneficial for cats, it’s absolutely essential for any aspiring quiz show winner.

And something else, my friends, that’s absolutely essential for any aspiring quiz show winner is… yep, you guessed it; my eBook How To Win Game Shows, which is available by clicking this hyperlink, and it’s still at the introductory price of $19.99 AU! And it’s even got a picture of cats in it, on Page 9.

In fact, it’s this picture;

Three little kitten isolated on white

Awww! Don’t they look …. well, a bit vapid and brainless, actually.









Exclusive interview with ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Temptation’ Champion Blair Martin – Part V

hqdefault (1)This week, Blair reveals a FANTASTIC tip for any aspiring Jeopardy! contestants! But first… When we left off last week, Blair had just narrowly won the second of his seven episodes of Temptation, by way of a tiebreaker; his opponent buzzed in early, and got the answer wrong…


BM: You can see the relief; “You’re kidding me. I’ve actually won this?” But when I came back two weeks later, I moved into that episode going “Right. You know what happened two weeks ago. We don’t do that again!” I was very hard with myself; “You focus!” and I am a big one for rituals and you will see that I always put my hands back on the buzzer the same way. And I am focused on Ed because we were told this during the briefing; it’s a good thing to learn to anticipate slightly, because Ed has got to still be talking, a word or two before he looks up and calls you by name. So even if you’re only half sure about it, there will still be a couple of words that can then pretty much clinch it, or not. So I learned to be focused on what was being said to me.

The same thing with Jeopardy! You can’t buzz in until the quizmaster’s finished reading the clue. What people don’t know is in the studio there is a light system. So there is a bank of red lights above the game board. When they are illuminated the circuit is open and you can buzz in. So what I would do with Jeopardy! – and they told us not to do this – they said “don’t try and read it off the monitor,” because everyone’s eyesight is different. I actually read off the monitor, so I had read the question or the clue before Tony Barber had finished saying it.

I had the buzzer in my hand and I would just go “yep, I know the answer to that” and I’d look to the top of the game board, wait until the lights come on, and then bang! Even if you anticipate it by a millisecond, you will lock yourself out. I think there was a lockout so you can’t keep buzzing and locking other people out. Yours is locked out and then someone else can get in. So during my time on Jeopardy!, people say “you were always so fast”. I was like “that’s how I did it”, because I was priming myself to see those lights. As soon I saw the light come on – light travels fast – bang!

Obviously on Temptation it was entirely different but it was listening to the question and going through. I can’t say how I know the answers to these things. What people did always say to me, Stephen, was “how do you know all that stuff?” I said “it is not a matter of knowing things, it is a matter of recall. It’s a matter of at that moment being able to recall the fact that is being asked for”. On one of the ‘Who Am I?’ questions, I buzzed in within 2 lines or something. You can even see on Ed’s face, like; “How the hell you know the answer to this now?” The answer was Natalie Portman. It is simple as a few weeks before I’d come across an article that mentioned that that’s not her birth name. She was actually born in Israel. Her father is a surgeon or something and had moved to New York for a career opportunity and she got into performing and she took her maternal grandmother’s name as her performing name, because her own surname was Herschlag or something like that. And that’s something where I went “that’s interesting. I wouldn’t have known that”. That was stored away in the memory bank.

SH: That real serendipity element comes into play time and time again, where it could be a fact that was learned a week ago – or something in passing that doesn’t seem like much at that time – but it all goes in there.


And that’s where we’ll have to leave it for this week. And speaking of “it all go(ing) in there“….

All” the very best bits of HowToWinGameShows.com’s first two and a half years “have gone in” to my 208 page eBook How To Win Game Shows, which is available for download right here, still at the introductory price of $AU 19.99!

This has been the second in my series of deliberately – and ludicrously – tangential eBook-promoting blog post signoffs. Please check in again seven days from now, to see how I can twist the final few words of next week’s post to my own nefarious, self-promotional purposes…. 

Until then!