And welcome to the third instalment of my chat with The Man With The Golden Voice; John Deeks! And if you’d like to hear a little sample of that famous voice, just click on the audio file in the top right corner of this page.
When we left off last week, we were discussing the Australian version of the game show institution that IS Wheel Of Fortune. It was a show that Deeksie provided the voice for, for over two decades, so I felt I just had to ask him….
SH: The different Wheel of Fortune hosts that came and went over the years… what were some of the differences that you noticed between them?
JD: “Turps” was a man of the people he was out there, and the crew loved him and he loved the crew; he just loved people. He was as open as the people were, and he was up for anything. He was true ‘Leagues Club“.
JD: Burgo, though, was a different kettle of fish, he was more reserved. I would be the everyman and he was sort of above all that, and Adrey, of course, was just gorgeous.
SH: Rob Elliott did it for a while.
JD: Rob Elliott did it for a while, yes absolutely. Rob was great, but he was the most reluctant host I’ve ever known. He wasn’t quite depressive, but he was “Oh, the system hates me”. Eventually he said to the network, “Look I just don’t think I can do this anymore”, and they said………… “Yep, fair enough” and they got someone else.
SH: So his heart wasn’t in it?
JD: His heart wasn’t in it. Then Steve Oemcke did it for a short time, believe it or not.
SH: Did he have a background in sports?
JD: No he has a production company, WTFN and he’s a great guy, a lovely guy. But I tell you, Stephen, I’m just so fortunate because I was offered to go to New Zealand to host Wheel of Fortune over there. And thank God I didn’t take it, because I’m better as the ‘Level 2’ man; I’ll take level 2, because I love supporting the talent. I love it, I really do! I don’t want to be out the front, supporting these amazing hosts. For a long time, as you know, I worked with Andrew O’Keefe (who hosted Deal Or No Deal) who is without question the best performer I have ever worked with in my life. He’s so disciplined in front of the camera. He can come in, learn and process a whole load of information that would take a whole year for me, and he would do it in one night. And he would come in and he would perform on his feet all day, interacting with people, laughing, joking… and you wouldn’t know that he’d had a big night the night before.
SH: And was probably going to have a big night after the record, too.
JD: Loads of heart, a man of the people, funny to work with, and we shared the same wicked sense of humour, too. So I miss him dreadfully to work with. Pretty much everyone I’ve worked with has been very generous, because they’ve got that I’m not a threat. I don’t want their job. I want to make them look the best they can. It was like when I used to work with Debbie (Debbie Phin, with whom Deeksie hosted lotto draws for years) or anyone I work with on camera; the better I can make them look, the better I look, the better the whole thing looks.
SH: That’s right.
JD: But it’s got to come from the heart.
SH: Exactly. You mentioned that you’ve always been happy to have that supportive – and supporting – role.
JD: Yeah, very happy.
…. AND YET, as we’ll see next week, Deeksie is about to be thrust into the spotlight, as the host of one of the most beloved game shows of all time.
How did that come about?
How did he handle it?
And how long did it last?