Behind the scenes of Hot Seat

2013 HOTSEAT 102There’s no “typical day” in the life of Eddie McGuire.

With so many hats to wear his schedule spans radio, television, sport and media production.

But on Monday afternoons you can invariably find him recording another block of Hot Seat -six a day, to be precise.

His day starts with his TripleM radio commitments. By the time he arrives at Docklands to begin shooting Hot Seat, he’s already been at McGuire Media offices and checked in with Collingwood Football Club.

On the day that TV Tonight visited, he’d also filmed a sequence at the MCG for the AFL and was looking ahead to to attend his 10 year old’s school concert later that night.

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It was also the day that Hot Seat would welcome new competition, in the form of Seven’s new Million Dollar Minute.

“It’s always good for people to pump up “game show vs game show” but it’s a bit like playing golf. You’ve just got to worry about your own game. This format has been the most successful (game show) format in the world, with the old Millionaire and then when we stripped it to a half hour show it revolutionised the format again,” he says.

“I always say to our guys, ‘Don’t get excited.’ People like the show that we’ve got. It still surprises me on the street, the amount of people who come up and just really enjoy the show.”

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McGuire has hosted Hot Seat for around 4 years, and prior to that the ‘classic’ Who Wants to Be a Millionaire “for about 10 years.”

With that history and with his busy schedule he now requires no rehearsal and dusts off most shows in one take.

“We do them As Live and I don’t use an autocue. I have the names of the contestants for the introduction but that’s about it. There’s only so many ways you can open a show five nights a week. We do six shows a day, but for some reason we seem to knock the shows out faster than when we did five,” he says.

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When Hot Seat first went up against Deal or No Deal it followed a number of game show failures for Nine, and media were ready to write it off.

“I remember the first headlines we had,”Hot Seat Runs Cold.” We were coming up against the in incumbent which was Deal or No Deal which, I have no doubt, is one of the best game shows ever,” he admits.

“But then we took it on with without doubt one of the best quiz shows ever. By the looks of things Million Dollar Minute looks like a hybrid of a number of shows, very Sale of the Century. I would have thought in trying to match the quiz/game shows that they would go for Sale of the Century. But obviously Nine still owns the rights to Sale.

Hot Seat and Deal or no Deal have done well because they were quite original formats. Ultimately it’s either lucky dip, which I describe as being Poker Machine TV guessing things and strategising, or ours is a quiz show with questions and answers.”

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Shooting at Docklands entails warm-up man Michael Pope (pictured below) keeping the audience engaged across an afternoon of recordings. Because there is no finished TV control room on site, the director works in an OB van to produce the episodes.

McGuire’s dressing room is unassuming, with little more than a desk and couch. In between eps 4 and 5 he gets enough time to catch up with pending work, including any Monday disasters for the Collingwood Football Club.

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Executive Producer Steve Gilbert (pictured below) has been with Millionaire since 2003. Hot Seat was developed from a Scandinavian version which Gilbert received on DVD. With some fine tuning it was crafted into a half hour version and Nine committed to 30 episodes. Now it has 900 under its belt.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire is in effect a drama, because its the drama of people not being under the pressure of time, and they can take the money when they want. So it’s a mental dilemma as opposed to Hot Seat which is more of a classic quiz show with the timing element. So they really are two completely different game shows to produce,” Gilbert explains.

While the show is yet to give away its magic million it has awarded $250,000 around 31 times and given away some $21 million. The ‘classic’ Millionaire had no millionaire wins for 5 years, then 2 in one month.

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Gilbert has high praise for McGuire whom he says always adds his own knowledge when it comes to explaining answers.

“I continually ask question writers to give me additional explanation material because Eddie has a lot of that material,” he says.

But McGuire has also been accused of being quick to help some contestants gravitate to the correct answers. Gilbert disagrees.

“If it’s perceived as helping, I’ve seen plenty of times in 900 shows where that might seem to be the case but it hasn’t been the case. He’s just purely giving them the amount of time (left to use). Sometime you can see them looking for something but he’s not going to give them anything,” he says.

“I’ve seen plenty of times when people get the $100 question wrong.”

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McGuire says its rare that he helps, and is conscious of not favouring one contestant over another.

“I have been accused of helping sometimes but I don’t know the answers until they’re locked in,” he insists.

“Once we had a guy who had 4 kids who were autistic and you could see he was tired. He got through to the last question, so I wasn’t jeopardising anyone behind him. You don’t want to help people too much in case it jeopardises the person behind them. It’s not fair to them. But if it was someone in the Hot Seat, on this occasion this guy needed a break. So I might have helped him a bit. I might have steered him in the right direction. But that was the most overt one I’ve ever done.

“The funny thing is they’re not listening to you. They’re that consumed with what’s going on. The lights are going and the music’s pumping, the audience is on, the TV’s there, they’re frightened about making a mistake in front of family and friends….. Sometimes you could fire a cannon and you wouldn’t know what was going on.”

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Photos: Jodie Hutchinson


  1. Slightly off topic, I watched the Before the Game Drand Final special this weekend, which had Swans star Adam Goodes as a guest, but also had Eddie McGuire as Tool of the Year. Given the controversy surrounding McGuire’s comments on the radio and Goodes’ reaction, it must have made for a slightly uncomfortable atmosphere that evening. One expects that Roving were on the ball keeping both men separate.

  2. Interesting story, but it is not mention about the waiting list to get on the show. I have been waiting for over 3 years for a try out, but still nothing.

  3. Before I went to a Hot Seat recording, I was thinking how am I going to get up there in the audience with my wheelchair. My carer and I stayed behind the cameras.

    When Eddie came out for the first recording, he said hello to us. At the end of the fifth show (They didn’t do six shows) I asked the girl who works there, if she could ask Eddie to come back out to take photos with me.

  4. @hotgoat – that’s also assuming he knows the answer. He doesn’t see it on his monitor; he’s a well-versed guy so he’ll know answers for most but not all of the questions that come up

  5. If Eddie doesn’t help the contestants then I am a monkey’s uncle. He helps in every game, you can tell by the tone of his voice which is the correct answer. That cannot be helped especially for the easy questions, and even in cases for the medium-level questions. Then there is the times he goes “are you sure…”, around 90% of the time the contestant has the wrong answer and then changes it.

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