Tales from the ‘Jeopardy!’ Rabbi…

Hello! Well, after all the excitement and publicity of last week’s big announcement (rather odd to be so celebrated for something I haven’t actually done yet), it’s now back to business as usual here at HowToWinGameShows.com.

And this week, I want to share with you an article – or a series of four articles, really – by Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman, from Westchester, New York, about his experience as a contestant on Jeopardy!


Alex Trebek with Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman on the set of ‘Jeopardy!’

The series is entitled My Jewish Approach to Being on Jeopardy. I found Rabbi Mitelman’s perspective fascinating. I’d never seen a faith-related approach to game show contestant preparation and performance before, but his approach is far from exclusionary; these articles are chock full of ideas that can be applied by absolutely anyone who’s serious about winning game shows.

The articles are chatty and engaging, but Rabbi Mitelman is clearly someone who takes game show preparation very seriously. In the first article, he gives three great essential principles for game show success, which also happen to be great principles for the wider world, and life in general, that have also served him well in his career, and his education. They are, in essence:

1. Control what you can – and realize you don’t know how much control you have

2. Pay attention to the small — and seemingly irrelevant — things

3. Remember that remembering requires effort

Then, in the second article: How I Prepared, he discusses studying, practising, test-playing / rehearsing and buzzer technique – all pillars of a solid preparation regime. he even recommends an app called Jeopscore which allows you to keep track of your score as you play along at home. (I think it’s an Android app. I’ve searched, but haven’t had a lot of luck finding it. Please let me know if you fare better!) There are links to other great Jeopardy! resources here too, such as The J-Archive, the Anki flashcard app, and this great article by Karl Coryat.

The third article (The Lead-Up) covers the nuts-and-bolts of the online test, the audition, and receiving The all-important Call; The Call that means you’ve been selected to be on the show. This article is really more anecdotal in tone than the previous ones – it’s mainly outlining that particular part of the Jeopardy! contestant journey… although there is a mention of another training app called Knowledge Trainer, which I haven’t tried, but it does look pretty good!

The final article in the series of four – The Day Itself – chronicles Rabbi Mitelman’s in-studio Jeopardy! experience, and as such, contains spoilers. Spoilers which I certainly won’t reveal here. To find out what happens, you’ll just have to go and read it yourself!

All in all, this is a really great series of articles for anyone interested in winning game shows in general, and winning Jeopardy! in particular. As we see so often, there is so much more to winning game shows than meets the eye, and the well-prepared contestant will have the edge over the unprepared contestant each and every single time. In this series of articles, Rabbi Mitelman outlines a series of tips and hints that he used, and that anyone contemplating an appearance on Jeopardy! would do well to consider.

It’s an entertaining read, it’s jam-packed with useful tips, and I recommend it highly. So thank you again, Rabbi Mitelman, for taking the time to chronicle your Jeopardy! experience so thoroughly – I absolutely loved reading it!

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!





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


Blair’s winning moment, from Blair’s winning episode of ‘Temptation’ !

Hello, Happy New Year, and welcome to the third instalment of my interview with Jeopardy! champion, AND Temptation Grand Champion, Blair Martin. This week, Blair and I discuss his run on Temptation – the climax of which is pictured to the right – and he reveals a couple of Jeopardy! pearls of wisdom that the show’s production staff shared with him. If you remember, at the end of last week’s post, Blair had just fronted up to the Temptation audition in Brisbane.

Now, Dear Reader, read on….


BM: I got through and during the interview with one of the contestant co-ordinators, and she had also been the co-coordinator on The Einstein Factor; Karla Burt. She was lovely. And I know the co-ordinators of Jeopardy! back in ’93 when they were doing the auditions, after everyone had done the 50 questions, and when they were being marked, they’d play an episode of Jeopardy! for people to watch. They said to me after I taped my Jeopardy! episodes (which were in March and my first episode aired on April Fool’s Day!), they said to me “We are now playing your episode at the auditions”; while they’re marking the tests. “We just leave the room and say “we want you all to be like him’…” 

SH: Nice. 

BM: “… ‘Which is; you look in the camera, you interact with the host, you wager big amounts because that increases the interest from the audience, and you are fine”. (The show’s host) Tony Barber actually said in the production meeting between the two weeks “Blair’s an actor. It means that the lights are on and the camera is on and he is back on. When it’s not, he’s off”. When you are on those programs, to me… I treat it as a job. I have a job to do, which is look good, be presentable and make good television. That’s what we’re here to do.

SH: It is interesting what you say about the wagering and how it relates to Temptation, because I haven’t seen all of your run, but your final episode is on YouTube (and now also on the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page, here), which I watched in preparation for this. It seemed to me that your strategy was to buy in the Gift Shop and certainly not hold back, and you seemed to breeze through that final episode. The final score was 34 plays 25 plays 116. You seemed very relaxed. During your run on Temptation, did you often spend that big? 

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


Two time quiz show champion Blair Martin


My interview with Blair Martin continues this week, as Blair opens up this instalment with his thoughts on how we Australians (sadly) often regard those amongst us who put ourselves on the line, take a risk and ‘have a go’….


BM: With Jeopardy!, I remember looking back at some of the footage and I’m thinking “God, you can be a smug bastard”. Something came up; “who was Moses’ brother?” In Jeopardy!, it’s phrased as an answer and you have to give it as a question. The look on my face was like “Oh really? How easy is this?” I just gave this nice answer* and Tony Barber was quite impressed. He said, “My goodness, your knowledge is really broad. It’s phenomenal.” I was like “Yeah, you know”…

Although I did try not to come across as too ‘up yourself’, because coming from a very middle class background, provincial city in the middle of Queensland… that very Australian thing; we cut the tall poppy down. And I was always bullied at primary school, and then I went to high school and the same thing happened there. Because I was the one doing school musicals and was the library monitor, and all that. And you know, you’re not a real person, are you? You’re something like a strange creature. 

SH: You’re not a “blokey bloke”, yeah.

BM: So trying not being too up myself when I’m doing quiz programs.

SH: So Jeopardy! was 1993. You came away from that with $76,000 and a new TV?

BM: Yeah! I used that television right up until Temptation gave me another one! (LAUGHS). Who’d have known my TVs for the last 25 years would come courtesy of quiz shows?

SH: After that, had you always thought that you wanted to have another crack at quiz show competition?

BM: It has always been an interest of mine. I think the Jeopardy! experience gave me a bit of a profile. So after Jeopardy! in my work as a performer I had an opportunity to offer to clients; “if you want a quiz format for your entertainment that’s a little bit better than your pub trivia, that’s actually hosted by someone who’s actually won one of these, who likes writing these questions…” I think that the trick with writing questions is you can’t make them too hard. You can be as oblique as you like, and people will be like “that’s fascinating, but why?” You want to give people enough of an opportunity to think they can win this and that they know the answer and of course, we love hearing teams argue! When they’re giving their answer they go “I told you that was the right one!” It’s great and it adds a bit of challenge. So I was doing that, and then Who Wants to be a Millionaire appeared, and there was the Channel 7 similar version to that hosted by Frank Warrick, where you had to ring up the call number, and I never got invited to audition for either of those programs. So I really wasn’t interested. There was The Weakest Link as well. I just thought “I don’t like the format of The Weakest Link.”

SH: It’s pretty nasty, isn’t it?

BM: Even though I’ve had friends who had appeared on it, I still think it rewards mediocrity, because if you’re clever you’ll get shot down – or just used – by the less clever people and then all of a sudden they will vote you off. I just disliked it. I thought it was pretty awful. Then Temptation came along, and I thought “why not?” 

SH: Did you watch Temptation from the start, in 2005? 

BM: Yes and no… and I will have to say with the deepest amount of shame and regret, I never saw you on it.

SH: (LAUGHS) You don’t have to have deep shame and regret about that!

BM: I was like “Stephen Hall, the actor? I didn’t know he did that!” It’s a bit like Matt Parkinson. He did his stuff on Sale of the Century… but there was a little something else before Temptation; I was on the very first taping of The Einstein Factor. And I thought that was a tremendous program. Being ABC, there is no money in it but it was great fun and I ended up being beaten by the woman who went on to win the Einstein Factor that year, which was 2004. I did say to her “you will go on to win this”… and yes, she did. The next year, when Temptation came around, I applied. It was 2005 and I was having dinner with some friends and one of them said “I’m going up to Channel 9 tomorrow morning. I’m auditioning for Temptation.” I thought “I’ve sent them an email for that and they’ve never responded. Oh, I know how these things work, I’ll just go up”. Totally brazen! Gate-crash the audition, basically. Two weeks after that, I got an email saying “we will be back in Brisbane on such and such date in November”. 

SH: “Actually, it turns out I am already there!” 


SPOILER ALERT: If you hadn’t already worked it out, Blair’s gatecrashing of the Brisbane Temptation audition was a success – he did get on the show. So their November email to him was already redundant. Next week, Blair and I discuss the lead up to his Temptation experience, and what he did by way of preparation. In the meantime, you can catch up with what Blair’s up to these days at his website, or by following him on Twitter. But for now, until next week – which also happens to be next year – I’ll say goodbye, and thank you so much for all your support in 2015!



* And for those playing along at home, Moses’ brother was Aaron.





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


‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Temptation’ champion Blair Martin

I’m pleased this week to post Part I of an exclusive interview I managed to record with Blair Martin, who’s an actor, compere, MC…. and two-time quiz show champion.

In 1993, Blair became an undefeated champion on the Australian version of Jeopardy!, and then in 2007, he won “the Lot” on Temptation, becoming the show’s sixth Grand Champion. As such, Blair and I had a lot to talk about…

And talk about it we did. See for yourself!


SH: Blair, welcome to howtowingameshows.com.

BM: Thank you very much. 

SH: You’re a Temptation champion, but before that, you went on the Australian version of Jeopardy! In 1993, which was hosted by Tony Barber. Just by way of background, what was your life like before Jeopardy! in 1993?

BM: Very ordinary. I had been working for a major hotel in Brisbane; The Hilton… just did casual front-of-house work and I picked up the odd performing arts job. Street Theatre at that point was having quite a booming period because of Expo ’88. And from then on, everywhere in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, every event decided they needed to have roving characters, because everyone experienced that at Expo. So from about 1990 I did my first stint as a roving character and coming up with characters. 

SH: Were you always a general knowledge buff?

BM: I was always constantly reading – and not books per se, not novels. There was a magazine from England called Look and Learn. My mother would pick it up from the newsagent along with her copy of New Idea and Women’s Weekly. I would get this mag. It was the broadest range of general knowledge you could imagine. It had stories and graphics and graphs and maps of everything. Doesn’t matter what it was; history, science, culture and I devoured those. I would read them constantly, and to this day I still have facts and information that I know came from reading that particular magazine. In the seventies, Tony Barber was a big star because he hosted The Great Temptation. I remember watching that and learning from that. Obviously, I was barely fourteen or fifteen. So it’s a bit hard to think that some decades later I would be in the same position as those people I used to watch. But that’s where my original understanding of knowledge came from. 

SH: And then The Great Temptation morphed into Sale of the Century, which ran throughout the eighties. Did you ever try to get on Sale of the Century at the time?

BM: Yes I did. I think I may have still been at university at the time. I remember auditioning for it and never got the call. So when Jeopardy! came on air, I remember watching it and going “actually, this rewards you for being clever”. So I auditioned for that and I got pretty much fast-tracked on to it, because they’d started with Tony Barber saying “we really need smart people on this show”. Unfortunately smart people aren’t always the best television. They were trying something Australians were never familiar with, which was not having the news on at six or six thirty in the evening. Putting on a “game show”, (which people thought it was. Which it wasn’t; it was a quiz program), at six o’clock was a big risk… and obviously it didn’t work. Which is why it went off air within six months. It was only about two and a half, three months after I went on air, that the program ended.

SH: How far did you go on Jeopardy!, and what did you win?

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‘How To Win Game Shows’ the eBook: UPDATE!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the scheduled launch day for How To Win Game Shows  – the eBook! 

Only thing is, it’s not quite ready yet.


All the content is done, but I’m afraid I’ve underestimated the time that editing, proofreading and getting an eStore up and running would take. So, I know I did say that it’d be ready to go by today, but if you can bear with me for one more week, I’d really appreciate it. That makes the revised launch date Sunday September 20th. I’d like to thank you so much for your patience and understanding. As a little taste of what it’ll look like, here’s the eBook’s cover:

The eBook's front cover!

The eBook’s front cover!

In the meantime, it’ll be business as usual here at the blog, with my next weekly post due on Tuesday. That will chronicle the first part of my Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster journey – this was the show in early 2006 that pitted Who Wants To Be A Millionaire winners against Sale of the Century and Temptation winners, in a battle to win the $20,000 for charity, and the title of ‘Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster’. I did manage to win it, but it certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing. The story of how I accomplished it begins right here on Tuesday, and hopefully there’ll be some tips and hints in there that will be helpful to you, as you learn from my mistakes.

Until then, thank you so much for your patience, and remember, you can still get a FREE SNEAK PREVIEW BONUS CHAPTER of the eBook by signing up to the How To Win Game Shows mailing list, by using the handy (if slightly squashed) email sign up box to the right! ——————————————————————————————————->

A quick update, and a word or two from a great ‘Jeopardy!’ Champ…

Jeopardy_Season_31_titlecardHello all,

Just a quick update today. Firstly, I’m sorry to announce that I’m running ever so slightly late with my EXCLUSIVE interview with current Australian Family Feud Executive Producer Pam Barnes, so please bear with me. The interview (which was really great, by the way!) has been recorded, transcribed, and is just about ready to go. I’ll be posting the first part of it right here on Tuesday November 18th, with the remaining instalments to follow over the next few Tuesdays. So be sure to check back here for all of that!

And after that, I’ll be pleased to post another EXCLUSIVE – my interview with 26-year-old Million Dollar Minute champion Alex Dusek.

So all that’s in store in the next few weeks right here on www.howtowingameshows.com.

That’s about it for today’s brief post, but I didn’t want to finish up without giving you at least some game show information (even if it does happen to be second hand)…

And this comes from Jeopardy! champ / aficionado / total-and-utter-expert Keith Williams, from his brilliant Final Wager website. It’s a very comprehensive interview he did with 20-game Jeopardy! champ Julia Collins. There’s a lot of good info here; Keith asks Julia about her big splurge after winning 20 games and nearly $400,000 (which is at 2:22), why she took wild guesses at certain clues (which is at 15:42), and a whole lot more besides. 

You can watch the full interview (which runs for 24 and a half minutes) right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGdElwPsqLI

And if you’re not familiar with Keith’s Final Wager blog,which is all about Game Theory (and not just how it relates to Jeopardy!)… it is completely unmissable, and you can find it right here: http://thefinalwager.co/

That’s it for now. I’ll be back on Tuesday, with Part I of my EXCLUSIVE interview with multi-award winning game show producer Pam Barnes.

Until Tuesday, then!