Vale Cary Young.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vale Cary, and thank you for everything.

HNY, from HTWGS!

Hello to you, and Goodbye to 2022!

As the clock ticks down to midnight tonight, and we all pause to take stock of the twelve months just gone, I thought I’d quickly say hello and thank you again for your support of – and interest in – this little hobby of mine that is HowToWinGameShows.com.

Over the past twelve months here, we’ve had three big interviews; with game show producer Steve Marshall, game show winner Troy Egglestone, and with The Chase Australia‘s very own “Shark” – Chaser Brydon Coverdale. There have been updates too, but I’ve been remiss in sharing any patented HowToWinGameShowsBehindTheScenesReminiscences this year, as other endeavors (and work!) have been taking up my time.

Among these was my latest book, 50 Things To Be Seriously Grateful For* *and 50 not-so-serious things to illustrate themwhich, I’m pleased and proud to report is now available on Amazon.com.

I also, earlier this month, finally, FINALLY got around to recording the audiobook version of my novel Symphony Under Siege.

It’s now been distributed to all the following retailers…

and (depending on their various processing times after receiving the audio files) may even be available from them RIGHT NOW!

The other major passion project that’s perhaps been keeping me away from HTWGS a bit is my new one-man show for next year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

It’s called Letters From My Heroes, tickets are now available on the official MICF website… and the first performance will be on March 30th…. just 89 days from now. Gulp!

These things notwithstanding, I do plan to throw myself back into blogging here next year with renewed vigor. Until then, I hope you enjoy the few remaining hours of 2022, and that next year brings all the good things you wish for… and then maybe a cheeky one or two more on top!

Thank you so much for your support – as always – and I look forward to bringing you more interviews, updates, book reviews and patented HowToWinGameShowsBehindTheScenesReminiscences in 2023!

Cheers,

Stephen.

 

Sure, I know it’s not strictly game show-related, but…

… I’m so excited about this, I just had to mention it here. My brand-new book

50 Things To Be Seriously Grateful For Today

*and 50 not-so-serious things to illustrate them 

is OUT NOW!

Right HERE!

at https://books2read.com/50thingstoday/

I’ve been working on it for ages, and it feels so good to finally get it out into the world. I like to describe it as “a very sincere and very silly non-fiction book that’s chock-full of fiction”. Here’s its blurb:

After a quick look out the window the other day, Stephen Hall thought it might be an idea to remind himself – and you – of some Things worth being grateful for.

50 Things, in fact.

From Memories Of People You’ve Loved, to The Taste Of Your Favourite Food…

From Being Able To Read, to Having Your Rubbish Collected Each Week…

From Visual Art, to Instant Access To All The Knowledge In The World…

From This Morning’s Sunrise, to Dogs (they don’t even have to be yours).

And to illustrate these 50 hand-picked Things, he’s included a bunch of not-so-serious clippings, excerpts, articles and assorted ephemera that have never been seen anywhere before. Ever! This is a book like no other. Inside, you’ll find:

  • The world’s most passive-aggressive flowchart
  • The comic strip Grumps, the Extremely Irritable Scottish Terrier
  • A collection of 10 limericks about buttering toast
  • A page from the visitors’ book on the moon

And much, much more.

Join Stephen for some gentle and timely reminders that the glass is half-full, after all… and that even getting the glass in the first place was a bonus!

If you’d like to know a bit more about the book, I’ve set up a dedicated website for it at 50Things.today.

Thank you for reading this far (I’m grateful for that!), and I’ll see you next time, when I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled game show-related content.

Cheers, Stephen.

My Twitter handle @How2WinGameShow is no more. It has ceased to be….

Hello, just a quick one today, to let know that I’ve now officially retired the @How2WinGameShow Twitter handle, and replaced it with my new one @The_StephenHall

The reason for the change is that I’m spreading myself across several projects right now (and intend to continue doing so for the foreseeable future), so I wanted my Twitter presence to be a more centralised pointer to them all… A “hub”, if you will.

(Will you? I know I will. So will I. Alright then, a “hub”.)

After all, www.HowToWinGameShows.com is just one of the things I do!

If you do happen to go to @How2WinGameShow, you’ll see there’s a placeholder message there, directing you to the new handle.

Which, again, is @The_StephenHall.

Thanks, that’s it. See you in the Twittersphere!

Well of course it’s a coincidence. What sort of stupid question is that?

 

 

From the ‘Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-This-Before?’ department…

Hello!

Hey, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that in the nine years I’ve been running HowToWinGameShows.com, this idea has only just occurred to me now…

I bang on here a lot about my ‘game show journey’; about all the things I learned from competing on those quiz shows, about how it all felt, and about what I was thinking at various points along the way. But for some reason, it never occurred to me to make those shows available for you to watch here.

Oh sure, they’re all housed over at the HowToWinGameShows Facebook page… but there should also be a link to them somewhere around HERE, on this blog, shouldn’t there? Of course there should. If I’m running a blog all about TV game shows, and I have actual watchable examples from the game shows I’ve competed on, why ON EARTH haven’t I pointed my visitors to them before?

Dunno.

Anyway, now I am. I’ve created a new ‘Videos’ page here on the blog, linking to full recordings of all my game show appearances. It’s where you’ll find links to:

  • My first tentative appearance on Sale of the Century, way back in September 1994, when I was just 25….
  • My second appearance on Sale, five years later….
  • All seven episodes of my run on Temptation in August, 2005…
  • My two appearances in the Temptation ‘Quizmasters’ tournament of 2006…
  • And my appearance on Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster in 2006.

So if you’re interested in watching any – or all – of these, just head on over to the brand new ‘Videos’ page!

And sorry I took so long to get around to doing this.

Nine years old today!

Thanks Paul, thanks George. Thanks Ringo, John… I’ll take it from here. 

Well, here we are. Nine years of HowToWinGameShows.com. When I started this endeavour way back in 2013 by nervously uploading this introductory post, I had no idea whether this concept had legs. Did the topic have enough depth and breadth to sustain a regular blog? How would I fill it? Would anyone be interested in it?

At all?

Well, I suppose it has provided enough content. Otherwise, we wouldn’t still be here. My original aims for it have expanded since the site’s early days, and it’s evolved into quite a multi-faceted beast. As I look back, I now realise that HowToWinGameShows.com has featured…

  • Interviews with game show winners,
  • Interviews with game show hosts, stars, producers, writers, directors, producers (and audience warmup men),
  • Guest Posts from game show aficionado and serial contestant Ryan Vickers (17, at last count!),
  • Reviews of game show-related TV shows, books, movies and podcasts,
  • Game show-related news updates,
  • Autobiographical posts relating my various game show adventures,
  • My PatentedHowToWinGameShowsBehindTheScenesReminiscences, where I lift the lid on what happened backstage on the various game shows where I’ve worked as a writer and/or producer…
  • And of course, it’s also given rise to my eBook How To Win Game Shows, which is available from several different online retailers. ( https://books2read.com/howtowingameshows/)

But underneath all that, I hope I’m still managing to bring you some useful tips and hints, and plenty of reminders of what NOT to do in your game show adventures too.

I’ve got more great interviews, reviews and reminiscences lined up for the coming months… so I suppose I haven’t completely run out of content just yet. Thank you so much, as always, for your support and interest, and here’s to shepherding HTWGS through to double digits, exactly one year from now!

Cheers!

Stephen.

ICYMI on HTWGS in 2021

Hello, and again Happy 2022 to you!

Just a quick one today, before I launch into the year’s first official, exclusive new content next week. I thought I might take a look back at some highlights of last year here on the blog, to give you a second chance to catch up on them, in case there’s anything there that might take your fancy, but which you missed at the time.

First up, in February, I let you know about a very clever, very funny new podcast created by a couple of brilliant Melbourne-based comedy writers. It’s called The Pop Test, and each episode tackles a scientific subject in great detail with the help of a couple of celebrity contestants, and a whole lot of smart gags. Andy Matthews and Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall are the brains behind this, and if you haven’t sampled it yet, you really should give it a go!  

In May, our good friend – and occasional guest blogger – Ryan Vickers drew our attention to the second season of The Search For Canada’s Game Shows, all episodes of which are available to watch online. They make fascinating viewing for any game show aficionado. (Hey, that’s you!) 

Then, in June, we discovered a brand new nightly online quiz, in the form of The TikTok10. Australian quiz show question writer Miles Glaspole creates a new 10-question episode every weeknight, in a fun, quick quiz that’s now racked up over 18 MILLION LIKES! Congratulations, Miles! You can see what all the fuss is about right here.  

The second half of 2021 was almost entirely occupied by my epic, 18-PART EXCLUSIVE episode with Australian quiz show legend David Poltorak. It was a wide-ranging and very candid conversation with a man who’s proven himself in front of the cameras, and in a variety of behind-the-scenes roles in the game show industry since he exploded onto the quiz show scene back in the 1980s. If you haven’t read the interview, I’d heartily recommend it. The whole thing kicks off here.

And finally, we rounded out the year with…

  • My latest HTWGS movie review. I took a look at Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much, which tells the incredible story of Theodore ‘Ted’ Slauson, who’s appeared on The Price Is Right a whopping 37 times! You can read my review right here, and the 72-minute movie’s actually available to view online here, here and here
  • And a two-part interview with game show winner Kristi Milley, who told her twisty, turny tale of appearing on the ill-fated 2006 Australian Quiz show the MASTER. There’s certainly a lesson to be learned with that one!

So there are a few highlights of The Year That Just Was, in case you missed them. I look forward to welcoming you back here next week, for my very first big, EXCLUSIVE interview for 2022. It’s with a man who’s worked behind the scenes on many of Australia’s biggest game shows across all the major networks, across four decades! He’s veteran Australian game show producer Steve Marshall, and it’s a far-ranging chat you won’t want to miss.

See you then, then! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR from HTWGS.com!

Thanks, Mr Gumby.

As 2021 draws to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your near ones and dear ones all the very, very best for a wonderful 2022. Whatever sort of 2021 you’ve had, I sincerely hope that 2022 is Bigger, Better and Brighter for you!

I’ve got loads of good stuff lined up for the blog in the year ahead, including: 

  • More of my patented HowToWinGameShows reminiscences,
  • More book reviews,
  • and more exclusive interviews with fascinating behind-the-scenes figures from the game show industry (the first one of which will start in just a couple of weeks).

If there’s anything other game show-related material YOU’d like to see me tackle in 2022, please do let me know, either in the comments below or via email: Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com. I’m always open to suggestions!

Thanks so much, as always, for your support… 

and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Cheers,

Stephen.

Merry Christmas from HTWGS.com!

Hello. As the year that was 2021 winds down, I’d just like to take this opportunity to heartily wish you and yours all the Compliments of the Season. I hope your Christmas is exactly what YOU want it to be. I hope it’s happy, I hope it’s safe, and I hope it contains liberal amounts of laughter and love.

And, of course, silliness.

Thank you so much for your support throughout this year…. and again,

Merry Christmas to you!

Cheers,

Stephen.

 

My latest quiz show appearance (#spoileralertletsjustsaywinningisnteverything…)

Hello!

A quick one today, to let you know about a quick radio quiz that my Mad As Hell castmate Tosh Greenslade and I did on ABC Radio National last Friday…

Every Friday, Patricia Karvelas’s’ drivetime show has a light-hearted quiz about the news of the week, usually featuring two comedians. This week, it was our turn to face off against each other, on subjects ranging from a Flintstones-themed house to fuel for European flying cars.

It was really good fun. If you’re interested, and you have a free 20 minutes, here it is…

I’ll see you next week, with exciting news of an epic new interview that I’m just putting the finishing touches on now…

Until then, then!