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

Saturday Quiz Fever…

That’s the actor John Leary, that is.

Hello! I’ve got something a little bit different for you this week.

Back in June, Tosh Greenslade (one of my castmates on Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell) and I met the actor John Leary. We had a lovely conversation, and he invited us both onto his podcast; The Saturday Quiz. This is where John takes all the questions from that week’s quiz in The Saturday Paper and puts them to a couple of guests.

We both said “yes please”, and a couple of weeks later we did it. It was good fun, it went for 33 minutes, and if you’re interested to see how we fared, you can find the episode right here. Or by clicking on the image above, or by clicking on the phrase “his podcast; The Saturday Quiz” above. <- Or indeed, just here.

Hmm. I seem to have got a bit carried away with the hyperlinks this week. Oh well.

Anyway, here (again) we are, doing John Leary’s The Saturday Quiz podcast.

Enjoy!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 6

It’s been really great chatting to Brydon about his new book The Quiz Masters, but as I wind up our interview this week, I thought I’d ask him about what’s up ahead…

=========================   SH: And what about plans for the future? Is The Chase Australia just going to keep on going and going?

BC: Oh, man, I hope so. We film in Sydney now. The show moved there while Melbourne was in its big lockdowns in 2020. We filmed Beat the Chasers in Sydney and then they decided to have the regular show there as well.

You mentioned earlier the time we have to put in… and we do have to put in the time to study, but the actual time of filming is not all that much. Because there’ll be a few weeks here and there. And my involvement is three days at a time, but then I’ll have big chunks of time when I’m off as well. Which I guess is the case with any TV show, really. So, it’s good that I can still spend most of my time with my kids and my wife. A lot of the other work I do, I work from home. So, it’s the sort of job that really allows me to still have quality time outside of it.

SH: Nice. Now Brydon, I must say I did really love the epilogue of your book. I love how you talk about being lucky and about you feel you’ve won “the lottery of life”, which enables you to do all this stuff.

BC: Oh, absolutely.

SH: I thought it was a really lovely way to round the book off. But didn’t you get any photos of the quiz masters you were interviewing while you were out there talking to them?

BC: Well, I intended to, at the start. I got one of Cary (Young, Sale of the Century Grand Champion) but I ended up doing most of the interviews over the phone, because, you know, that was during COVID time. So, I would have liked to have had some photos in the book. But just the practicalities of the way I ultimately had to do most of the interviews, that just didn’t work out. But I found it so fascinating talking to all these all these people, as I’m sure you do with your blog! It’s getting inside the mind of somebody who’s won a million dollars like Martin Flood or Lisa Paton on Million Dollar Minute, who essentially lost the chance to win a million dollars. In her case, I was fascinated by how philosophical about it she was, because she hadn’t really gone in with any expectations. It was very sort of “c’est la vie”. Whereas if that was me, I would have handled it very differently, because I would’ve put all this pressure on myself to win it. I just found it really interesting to talk to all these people – and Cary Young – and to learn the lengths that some of them went to, to train for these shows. I know you’ve interviewed Martin Flood…

SH: Sure have. He was one of the first people I interviewed for the blog

BC: Yeah, I mean, he literally studied Millionaire – the actual show, not just questions – for five years.

SH: Yes. And his confidence was just off the charts.

BC: Oh, absolutely.

SH: He just had this bulletproof mindset… which I found a bit superhuman, really.

BC: Yeah. Absolutely. So I just felt there were a lot of fascinating stories in this area. 

SH: And characters!

BC: Yeah, a lot of this stuff is just so, so interesting if you delve into it a little bit.

SH: It sure is, and you do a great job of exploring all of that in the book.

BC: Thank you.

SH: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Brydon, and I wish you all the very best for the next season of The Chase Australia!

BC: Thanks Stephen, my pleasure. As I said in my email to you, back at the start, longtime reader, first time contact!

==================================================================And I’m so glad that Brydon and I did finally get a chance to chat! Once again, I’d like to thank Brydon for his time, his co-operation and his candour in our interview. I’ll sign off now by reminding you that Brydon’s book The Quiz Masters is available now at all good bookstores (and possibly also at some disreputable ones, I don’t know)…

And, if you’re in Australia, you can catch him at 5:00 weeknights on The Seven Network on The Chase Australia. Or on their 7+ catchup service, right here.

I’ll see you back here next time… 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 5

Welcome back to my interview with Brydon “The Shark” Coverdale, one of the stars of The Chase Australia. We’re discussing Brydon’s new book, The Quiz Masters: Inside The World of Trivia, Obsession and Million Dollar Prizes, which is now available, and which I highly recommend.

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SH: One thing that results from your book being so up-to-date is the bit where you talk about quizzing in lockdown. I related to that because, in the depths of Melbourne’s many lockdowns, our niece in New South Wales organized a weekly online family get-together to play the trivia game Buzz. It was a real morale booster. 

BC: Yeah, that was a thing you could do reasonably easily. You could remotely have a trivia game where you ask the questions out of the newspaper or you can do it in a more organized way. And pub trivia was really just nonexistent for a couple of years in actual pubs. But a lot of those operators were, at least, able to still have a show in some form that they could do online. And in fact, in many cases, they could have a wider range of contestants, because you could log on from anywhere. Or, if you had to be home, because you had kids in bed or something, you could still log in and you might not have been able to get to the pub in real life if it was on. And that just kept ticking over for people. At the more high-level quizzing as well, it just brought all of these quizzers together from around the world who were suddenly doing quizzes over Zoom together.

Issa (Schultz, one of Brydon’s colleagues on The Chase Australia) has played in many tournaments, World Cups, and Asian quiz leagues, and in lockdown, he suddenly found himself playing against the Eggheads, from the UK, and-

SH: Doing very well.

BC: Exactly! And the great American quizzes and stuff. And I guess, because I have three small kids and quite a lot on, I didn’t do as much of that sort of stuff as he did. But I did a couple of bits here and there. I did a quiz that Paul Sinha, the UK Chaser, was writing heaps of questions for during lockdowns. And in a weird way, I think all that made a lot of the quizzing sort of people more of a close community than they had been before.

SH: So your show, The Chase Australia, has been going for seven years now. Have there been many unusual or unexpected moments that you’ve encountered during your time on the show?

Continue reading

My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 4

Welcome back! When we left off last week, we were discussing the casting process of The Chase Australia, and how Brydon got the gig of the Chaser that would be known as ‘The Shark’. But this week, I wanted to explore what it’s like actually BEING ‘The Shark’…

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SH: So The Chase Australia has been going for seven years now, and goodness knows how many episodes… Five episodes a week, isn’t it?

BC: Yeah, although they have shown repeats a little bit later in the week for some time. I’m not sure. We’re certainly well past 1000 episodes. I know I’ve done somewhere in the range of 250 or something.

SH: It seems to me that an incredible work ethic is required of you, and you need to be always sharpening that sword.

BC: Yeah.

SH: I don’t think I’d have the stomach for it. And all four of you’ve always got this pressure on you to be that expert. I take my hat off to you all.

BC: Yeah. And at the start, I identified subject areas where I thought, “Okay, this is clearly a weakness of mine that I’ve never been that interested in”. So, I made myself some spreadsheets of operas, for example, and was trying to learn a bit more about that stuff. And I wrote myself some practice questions. And in time, I began to realize that, for example, on the UK version of The Chase, they’ll go into depth with something like opera and classical music. And in Australian game shows generally – not just The Chase – those subjects tend to be not explored in that much depth. Questions will tend to be about just the really famous stuff, mostly. So if you can get your head around that stuff, then you’ll probably be okay. Over time, I sort of worked out what subject areas I needed to brush up on, and what other ones I could just do in a shallower sort of way.

SH: Right. And that comes back to one of the big tips that I keep hearing time and time again, which is; if you want to do well in quiz shows, think like a question writer. In fact, become a question writer.

BC: Yes.

SH: That’s the best thing you can do.

BC: Yeah, absolutely. Because that’s ultimately where all of the questions come from! Someone looks at something and goes, “That’s an interesting fact, I’ll write a question about that”. The question writer has thought, “Well, that’s curious or quirky – that’d make good TV”. So if you’re looking at a list of things you’re trying to study, and you want to do it in a shortcut way… think like a question writer. Look at the information, and think, “Which of these things are the ones that would jump out and be the most interesting to have a question about?”

SH: Yeah.

BC: And so, sort of focus on those.

SH: I think that’s excellent advice. Now, it seems to me that The Chase – and the Chasers themselves – are in some ways, torchbearers of the idea of general knowledge being useful. You see, I have a theory that individual general knowledge is in danger of becoming a thing of the past. A wide range of general knowledge is no longer necessary. Because, thanks to the ubiquity of the internet, if any of us need to know something, we look it up, we use it and we then forget it. Because we can. The next time we need to know a certain fact, we’ll look it up, use it and forget it again. But I really like the fact that your program celebrates individual general knowledge. And I find it heartening that there still seem to be enough people with good general knowledge showing up and wanting to play. And there are, aren’t there?

BC: Yeah, but you can also look at it from the point of view that in the past, it’s been harder to study general knowledge. Now, if you have that interest in the first place, it’s so much easier. When I was a kid, I’d have had to literally browse the encyclopedias if I was trying to study general knowledge. Or if I was going on Sale of the Century back in the 90s. And these days, you literally have all the world’s knowledge in your phone, if you’re interested in looking for it. But you do have to have that interest and curiosity in the first place. And I guess what I’ve always had is, I’ve just wanted to know the stories behind things and why is something the way it is. A lot of people don’t necessarily have that, and that’s fine. But there are stacks of people out there who do, and they want to be the person who gets the right answer at Pub Trivia or who shouts at the TV and impresses everyone by going “Oh, well, I knew that one”.

SH: Yeah, bragging rights.

BC: Yeah, exactly.

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You’ll see that I mentioned Brydon’s colleagues (the other three Chasers) above. I’ve interviewed all of them for this blog at one stage or another. If you’re interested in reading my interview with Issa “The Supernerd” Schultz, it’s HERE. My interview with Matt “Goliath” Parkinson is HERE, and my interview with Cheryl “Tiger Mum” Toh is HERE. 

And of course, my interview with Brydon “The Shark” Coverdale will continue right here next Tuesday!

See you then!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 3

Hello, and welcome back to my exclusive interview with ‘The Shark’ from The Chase Australia… Mr Brydon Coverdale!

As we mentioned earlier, Brydon’s book The Quiz Masters isn’t just a collection of reminiscences about his many quiz show appearances, nor is it just a collection of interviews with some of the biggest players there have ever been; it’s also a look at the history of quizzing in Australia…

=====================================SH: Historically, too, I love how you talk about (former Australian Prime Minister) John Howard going on a radio quiz, as a teenager! And (former Australian Prime Minister) Gough Whitlam once went on Sale of the Century… and of course, you also focus on the great Barry Jones.

BC: Yeah. With that John Howard stuff, you can find the audio online. And it is just so funny, because he’s just got this really broad Australian accent, but he’s 16 or something like that.

SH: He’s a bit of a smart alec on the show, if I remember rightly.

BC: Yeah, a little bit, although (its host) Jack Davey had such a quick wit that he was just sort of steering John Howard through. I just thought it was really interesting, that he displayed already (at 16), this thing that all politicians do; if you don’t know the answer, you make it sound like you do. He was very good at saying things with absolute confidence.

SH: Yeah. Now, the cover of your book refers to you as Brydon Coverdale and as ‘The Shark’ – how long has The Chase Australia been on air now?

BC: Seven years. I think July, seven years ago, is when we started filming.

SH: Right.

BC: And it went to air in September. And given the lifespan of TV shows, you know, in the modern era, I’m amazed that we’re still going strong. But it’s a format that was proven in the UK. And so, I think we – the Chasers, and everyone involved in the Australian production – are lucky to be hitching our wagons to a format that people love.

SH: You bet. You do talk in the book a little bit about your audition process. And although I haven’t gone into this on the blog yet, I also auditioned to be a chaser back then. But I can’t remember if our paths crossed at that time.

BC: Oh, yeah. Right.

SH: And when they were trying to think of a persona for me, the producer, Steve Murray, suggested “The Ginger Ninja”! I’m not sure how I felt about that. In the book, you also talk about the constant training that you and the other chasers do; writing questions for each other, and so on. To me, that sounded incredibly daunting, but you seem to love it.

BC: Oh, yeah. Well, I love it now. I mean, it was daunting at the time. All the time that I was going through that audition process, I was constantly thinking to myself, “Is this the point where they realize there’s someone better for it than me?” I’ve been on a lot of shows as a contestant, but I wasn’t successful on all of them. But I guess that what I did know was because I’d watched quite a bit of the UK version of The Chase. I knew the show inside out, and what “a Chaser” had to be.

SH: A professional athlete.

BC: Yeah, more or less. And it’s like being prepared for a job interview. That just gave me such a good base to work on my Chaser character, which is just an extension of who I am in real life (which is probably the case for all of us). I think in the early days of the show, we were probably a bit more concerned about “Oh, what’s the ‘Shark’ character supposed to be?” But it quickly became apparent that what works best is just to be an exaggerated version of yourself, really. For me, that’s kind of throwing in a smartarse comment here or there or having a little joke at the host’s expense, that sort of stuff.

I’d watched a lot of the UK version, but I often found myself going, “Oh gee, I wouldn’t have known that. And I wouldn’t have known that, either”. And so I wasn’t sure I was going to be up to it, from the quizzing perspective. But what I also came to realize was that I was watching British questions. So they weren’t the questions we were going to get. Of course, I’m not going to know something to do with British politics from the 1970s in the same way that I’d know a similar Australian question. And I think the other thing was that I knew it really all came down to that final chase; the last two minutes. And speed has always been one of the things I’ve been good at. So, I think I realized that even if I stumbled a bit throughout the rest of the show, if I could just focus and race through those two minutes, I’d have a good chance of doing better, more often than not.

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Wise words there, as Brydon raises a point that keeps popping up time and time again here on the blog; DO YOUR HOMEWORK! You can see here how Brydon’s thorough understanding of the show’s format, along with an intimate knowledge of his own weaknesses and strengths really increased his chances of success. See you next week!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 2

Hello! When we left off last week, Brydon and I had been talking in broad terms about his new book, but as a self-publisher, I was keen to learn a little more from Brydon about how the author / publisher relationship works…

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SH: In the formatting of the book, was your publisher very hands-on? Did they make ‘big picture’ suggestions, or did they pretty much leave you alone?

BC: More just to do with the ordering of things, I guess. I had the guts of the idea, but I had things in a different order. And Malcolm Knox, – who you might have heard of; he’s a journalist, columnist and writer – he ended up being my editor through the first stages. And he made the suggestion to make it all more chronological. And my story can be told chronologically anyway, so that drives through all the other elements that kind of spin off from it. In the end, that worked really well. But it was very much my plan to do that thing of having a chapter that starts and finishes with my story. And then in the middle of it is almost like a diversion to an interview with somebody who’s relevant to that. But still, this story is meant to be the star of the chapter.

SH: Yes. So you start each chapter with the beginning of an episode from your story, then you go to an interview, but we still want to know how that part of your own story will finish.

BC: Yeah, yeah.

SH: On the book’s cover, you got a quote from (legendary Jeopardy! Champion) Ken Jennings! How did you get that?

BC: Yeah, I was hoping to get one. Because I thought, who in the whole world of trivia is the biggest name? As you know, he’s an all-time Jeopardy! Champion, and now he hosts the show. He was on The Chase in the US, and I managed to get in touch with him through a friend of mine called Bob Harris. Bob is an American former Jeopardy! champ who now lives in Australia. I’ve met up with him and actually become good friends. He’s a fascinating guy. He’s a comedian as well. So, there’s another connection. And he was able to put me in touch with Ken, which was very helpful. And it was a bit of a tight run thing to get the pages to Ken in time for getting it all done. He’s a very busy man, but he was absolutely lovely and very obliging, which, given everything he’s got on, was wonderful.

His book, Brainiac, which I read, came out in about 2006, a couple of years after his big Jeopardy! run. It’s a similar sort of book, in that he goes off and interviews people involved in different parts of trivia. So that was one of the books I had in mind when I was thinking of mine; no one’s done the Australian trivia story. I mean, we’ve been listening to quiz shows on the radio since the 1930s. And they were so massive on TV in the early days, and then Sale of the Century and everything and nobody’s written this book yet! And part of my original goal with it was to do the history of quizzing in Australia, as well. And there are bits of that throughout it. Because it’s just one of those topics that I think so many people are interested in. And for those of us who’ve been involved in working on shows or being on shows as a contestant, there’s so much stuff that the average person would be interested in; how those shows work, what it’s like to be on one.

So, while quiz people are going to be naturally interested in the book, I wanted it to be something that anybody who has ever watched a quiz show and been vaguely interested in it, could pick up and just read through and go, “Oh, that’s an interesting subculture…”

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It is indeed. Next week, we delve a little more into some of the historical aspects of quizzing in Australia… with a healthy dose of some pretty impressive name-dropping along the way! See you then!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 1

Hello! This week, I’m very excited to bring you the first instalment of my interview with The Chase Australia‘s very own Brydon Coverdale (AKA The Shark)! Brydon has just released his new book The Quiz Masters (which is a great read by the way, and I highly recommend it), but that was only one of the many things I was keen to talk to him about, in our wide-ranging discussion…

=====================================SH: Brydon, thank you so much for chatting to me tonight.

BC: My pleasure, Stephen!

SH: I just finished the book and really enjoyed it. It’s obviously my cup of tea, though!

BC: Yeah, that’s good. I mean, it’s just one of those things that I would have enjoyed reading, obviously being interested in what I’m interested in. And so hopefully, people like it; people who watch quiz shows and go to pub trivia and all that.

SH: When did you decide to write it, and how long did it take you?

BC: I’ve been thinking of a book like this for years. For more than five years anyway, because I did the first interview, which was Carey Young, back in 2017. Back then, I knew I wanted to do a book like this, but I didn’t have any publisher interest or anything; it was just something that I know I want to do. And so I thought, with some of these interviews, it’s like, “Alright, why don’t I just go and do it?” Then I’d have them there as a bit of a base to work from. The idea of it evolved a bit, and it turned into a little bit more of a memoir than I intended it to, but that helped drive the narrative through the various areas that I wanted to explore, anyway. And the more I thought about it, the more I was like, “Oh, yeah, well, I’ve actually got personal experience with that and that and that”.

SH: Of course. And any reader who’s interested in the subject is going to be interested in your experiences as well, and in learning from you what to do and what not to do…

BC: Yeah, yeah.

SH: It’s very valuable. And I must say, I really liked how you seeded trivia questions through so many pages, with their answers at the bottom of the page in the footnotes.

BC: Oh, yes.

SH: One of the things they say about good game show formats is that you have to be able to play along at home… but in the process of reading your book, the reader can play along at home, too!

BC: Yeah, exactly. And I just treated it like an opportunity to put in some of that random extra information, like I do on The Chase. You know what it’s like when you’re the person who’s into trivia, you love to share additional interesting facts. So it was just an excuse to put a whole bunch of that stuff in as well.

SH: And it’s great, because – you draw this parallel too and I think it’s a really valid one – great trivia facts are a bit like jokes; when you hear one, you can’t wait to share it.

BC: Yeah.

SH: And it’s fun to share them, and it’s fun to get the reaction of the other person too.

BC: Exactly. And, yeah, that was one of the reasons I was interested in exploring that link between comedy and trivia. Because there’s a huge amount of comedians who either work on a quiz show or have been on quiz shows or just have an interest in it. And chatting to Matt (Parkinson, comedian and ‘Goliath’ on The Chase Australia), he says there’s a parallel between finding those little bits of day-to-day life where the comedian goes, “Oh, that’s funny”. And the trivia person goes, “Oh, that’s interesting and quirky”. It’s a very similar mindset, I guess.

SH: Yeah, I’m sure we’re probably using similar parts of the brain making those connections.

BC: Yeah.

SH: And I loved that you put the answers to the trivia questions at the bottom of the relevant page, rather than making us go all the way to the back of the book to look up the answers. That would have been very impractical.

BC: Oh, yeah. Well, I’ve read a couple of quiz books that do a similar thing. And one of them put the answers at the end of the chapters, and I went “Oh, that’s annoying.” And another one put them upside down, so you’re often spinning the book around… that’s also a bit annoying.

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And that’s where we’ll leave Brydon this week. Next week, I ask him about the publishing process, and how he managed to get an official endorsement from the greatest Jeopardy! champ of all time – the mighty Ken Jennings!  

In the meantime, remember that Brydon’s book The Quiz Masters is OUT NOW... and I heartily recommend it!

See you next week!