Game shows have entertained us since the early days of television. There's something about watching regular people win cash and prizes. It feels real. Relatable. But making a game show is a huge endeavor, and there's often a huge crew behind our beloved productions, working hard to create a worthwhile experience for viewers.
Recently, redditor olymp1a wanted to learn about what goes into the making of these shows. So they created a post, asking, "People who have been on TV game shows, what are some 'behind the scenes' secrets that regular viewers don't know about?" To everyone's amusement, the call was answered.
"When my wife was a kid, she won a lifetime supply of Butterfinger candy bars. It was two cases. Not the cardboard flats you can buy at bulk stores, but two actual factory crates like a grocery store would get...so several hundred candy bars. She said when she first got them, she felt ripped off because while it was a lot, she was only a kid, so there was no way it was a 'lifetime' supply.
"She made it through half the first case before she started giving them away to anyone that would take them. By the end of the second case, she was throwing them away.
"Now, as an adult several decades later, she still won’t eat Butterfingers. So I guess it really was all the Butterfingers she would ever need for the rest of her life."
One of the Reddit users who shared their experience was Epic-Hamster -- they appeared on X-Factor. "I auditioned because a lot of people in my life told me I was a good singer and because one of my mates who was great wouldn't go without me," Epic-Hamster told Bored Panda.
To them, the audition seemed "incredibly contrived" and the showrunners gave off a vibe like they weren't going for actual talent.
Before performing in front of celebrity judges, the singers must go through 'off-camera' judges first, meaning that every bad singer we see on the show has already been told they are better than the many talented ones not deemed TV-worthy.
"I find the 'off-camera' judges to be a disgusting practice as it then seems like the people who are terrible singers or straight-up mentally ill are just sent through to be laughed at," Epic-Hamster explained. "Whereas if the on-screen judges where the first it would just be part of auditions. The disgusting part is the choice to portray someone awful for views instead of them showing up."
I auditioned for X-Factor.
You don’t go to the celebrity judges first you go in front of some “off camera” judges.
So every terrible and horrible singer you see on the show has already been told they are better than the many talented ones not deemed “tv worthy” which makes it a lot more disgusting to me.
Interestingly, game shows started to appear on radio and television in the late 1930s. Both the first TV game show, Spelling Bee, and the first radio game show, Information Please, were broadcast in 1938. However, the first major success in the game show genre is considered to be Dr. I.Q., a radio quiz that began in 1939.
Throughout the 1950s, as television cemented itself in popular culture, game shows quickly became a fixture. Daytime game shows would be played for lower stakes, targeting stay-at-home housewives and higher-stakes programs would air in primetime. During the late 1950s, high-stakes games such as Twenty-One and The $64,000 Question boomed in popularity, however, the rise of quiz shows proved to be short-lived. In 1959, the public discovered that many of the most popular higher stakes game shows were rigged and ratings declines led to most of the primetime games being canceled.
My teacher was on wheel of fortune Australia and he won a life supply of wd40. It turns out with average usage a can of wd40 lasts twenty years, so a life's supply is four cans.
Primetime revivals of classic daytime game shows began to emerge in the mid-2010s. In 2016, ABC packaged the existing Celebrity Family Feud, which had returned in 2015, with new versions of To Tell the Truth, The $100,000 Pyramid, and Match Game in 2016. New versions of Press Your Luck and Card Sharks followed in 2019. TBS launched a marijuana-themed revival of The Joker's Wild, with Snoop Dogg as the host in 2017, complimenting the addition of original game concepts that appeared near the same time, including Awake, Deal or No Deal, Child Support, Hollywood Game Night, 1 vs. 100, and so on.
In March 2020, production on the four longest-running game shows in North America (Family Feud, Jeopardy, The Price Is Right, and Wheel of Fortune) were temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Family Feud, Jeopardy, and Wheel of Fortune have resumed production; however, because The Price is Right requires a studio audience in order to properly play the game, its production is still on hold.
I was on Wheel of Fortune. You have to get there at 5 AM where you draw straws with other contestants to decide when you will film. They film the entire week of episodes in 1 day. Pat Sajak is incredibly friendly and interacted with us on every break. The wheel is HEAVY
I was on "Who wants to be a millionaire", and its all scripted. The filming took half a day for 30 minutes of film. When you win the intro round, you are taken out to get your make up on, and then they instruct you how to act when you celebrate.
The reason the audience is so completely useless (And why you see so many press wrong on obvious answers) is because 20-30% of the audience is friends and family to the other 7 contestants who are waiting for their turn. We spent two days in the studio, and if the initial contestant loses, the others get their chance. If one contestant goes far and takes a lot of time, no one else gets a chance, so the audience tells the wrong answer on purpose.
I was on Cash Cab. You can't just hail a cab in New York which turns out to be the Cash Cab. There is a vetting process, but you don't know you are going to be on the show so the reaction is genuine. Also, there is alot of awkward silence time while he is listening to the producer in his ear. There is a cameraman riding shotgun unseen on TV. The money he gives is prop money for TV. They mail you a check after the show airs. Ben Bailey was genuinely a nice guy.
The dishes the MasterChef contestants make are normally stone cold by the time they get to the tasting table, so the judges usually taste the elements of each dish as they're walking around the kitchen during the cooking stage. This allows them to have some idea how the finished dish will taste and to see the contestants' proficiency with kitchen equipment
I went to two separate recordings of the BBC Robot Wars revival a couple years back as an audience member which to my surprise was actually fairly accurate to what is seen on TV. The main things I can remember being of note are:
The pits and the arena are actually right next to each other with no dividers (this one is more notable since the original run made it seem like they were different rooms). It was pretty much just a warehouse outside Glasgow they stuck an arena and some seating in.
The robots are all quite small, even Sir Killalot. I'm struggling to come up with a size comparison that isn't really weird, but he could just about fit in a bath for reference.
There is a LOT of waiting between matches. There were a couple of times when teams were having technical difficulties that they'd switch matches around for more time, but often you'd be waiting 30 minutes or more between bouts. They had a local radio host there to keep us entertained during low carnage moments.
The robots with spinning weapons are far more terrifying in person - it's hard for the camera to properly convey that hum of dread as Carbide got its blade up to speed, or the feeling in the room when a piece of robot comes flying off and embeds itself partway through the plexiglass barrier surrounding the arena.
10/10, just as good as I'd imagined it would be.
My formers BFF's sister was a contestant on "Swedens Next Top Model" many years ago and she told me it was all fake, from the start they were told who would win and they told her that she had to be a b***h on the show because that was her character.
I was a guest on The Tyra Banks Show back in 2005. The 'stylist' dressed me and the other guests in clothes that still had the tags on. They made sure to hide the tags so they could return the items after the show.
I attended a taping of Conan several years ago. As soon as the show is finished Conan grabs a mic and roams the aisles while singing, “This is the after-the-show song that nobody knows about” or something similar. Definitely a crooner, and I openly swooned because come on, Conan is a dream and a treasure.
I'm a film carpenter and I worked on big brother. The "house" is actually inside of a huge warehouse. I found it kinda creepy that when they lead a contestant to the games room, they put a black bag over their head and you're not allowed to talk to them also the camera alleys mean that anyone working on the show can just wander behind the walls and watch the contestants in any room. I will never understand why people apply to be on that show. It looks stressful af!
I was on Lockup. That s***ty MSNBC reality TV show that showed what it was like to be in prison. I was interning at Wabash Correctional Facility in Indiana and they were filming the summer I was there. The camera crew was awesome, they were some of the nicest people you will ever meet, but the producer was a huge a-hole. She refused to call me by my first name, just simply "Intern" and insisted that I not get in the shot. Only the "real people" should be on the TV. I was working with the Internal Affairs office at the time, and they really didn't care for the documentary crew being there either, so they just told me to ignore her and do my job like they were not there. So at one point we (my boss and I) were talking to a violent offender in a private cell room, who had just sent his cellmate to the hospital in a huge fight, and we both exited the room once we were done talking, then BOOM! Cameras right in our faces. I was shocked, so I just stood there next to my boss who was being interviewed. The producer lady was violently waving me out of the way, so I ducked out of the camera shot. She later on scolded me and said "Why didn't you just stay in the room until the shot was complete???" Uh... no lady. I will not be staying inside of a locked room with a violent offender who is not handcuffed. I am just a college student trying to get my s**t done. But as a whole, the prison was really calm. We only had a couple of incidents that summer, but the camera crew always stirred up drama. The offenders knew they were going to be on TV, so they wanted to look super scary so their friends on the outside could see them. Once the camera crew left, things went back to normal. Boring and quiet.
Not really a game show but I was an audience member with my class for America’s funniest videos. They literally had empty plates/cups at some tables and a light up sign telling us when to laugh.
Sometimes they would even move audience members depending on how well they laugh. This field trip was for our school drama club btw
I was on Wheel of Fortune:
The wheel weighs a TON. Some people might watch and think that it’s easy to target a particular dollar wedge, but to spin that thing well, you practically have to throw your arm out.
Pat Sajak is really quick-witted. In the taping before us (they film 5-6 episodes at once) a woman won the prize puzzle and started to cry like crazy as they cut to commercial; Sajak yelled to the director (or someone in the production crew) to throw him a box of tissues, so that when cameras came back up, he could be dabbing her tears as a joke. It was very lighthearted and added to the game-show atmosphere, for sure.
The bonus round wheel does NOT weigh a ton. I was the night’s champion (but sadly did not get the bonus puzzle for an extra $45000); the smaller wheel looks a lot like the main one, and they don’t give you a practice spin, so I just wound up and threw that sucker and I thought it was going to fly into outer space
My wife got a tattoo on a tattoo competition show. They gave her headphones to wear while she was being tattooed, but she wasn’t allowed to actually plug them in and listen to music. Pure product placement lol
Other than that it was a really good experience! Producers worked with her for several weeks leading up to and made sure she got a tattoo subject and style that she wanted.
They let the other girl in the Showcase Showdown (Price is Right) rebid after the audience booed her original bid (something silly low like $10,000). When it aired, they cut her original bid and showed only her second, winning bid. I lost.
Was in the audience at a Food Network taping and Iron Chef America really is a 60-minute competition. That's not fudged. The judging on the other hand takes foreeeeever.
I was in the audience at the price is right. You wait like 4+ hours just to get into the taping. They come by and give you a short interview to see if you are a good prospect to make it to contestant row. I was with a group of 4 and none of us made it. The studio audience is significantly smaller than it appears on tv. Drew Carey told jokes between filming. The set is tiny. The wheel is tiny. No secrets to reveal except that they must use some serious lenses and angles to make it appear bigger. It was a long day but it was a cool experience.
"Earlier this year I was on House Hunters, and obviously, everything was staged. You buy the house first and then you get to go on the show. You can always tell what house they’re going to buy because it’s always the empty one. The house touring was fake for us, at least when we did it, because one of the houses didn’t want us filming there, so we had to get a fake house to tour. I remember we were filming us going somewhere in the car, and I was dropped off in a cornfield.
"The filming crew were really nice and took us out for lunch. They were all super fun to be around and made us laugh during cuts. But the filming process lasted over three weeks, and it’s only a 20-minute show, so it was definitely tiring. I remember everyone, even people I barely knew, watched the show, and it was kind of embarrassing, but still a fun experience overall."
UK Weakest Link contestant - although the show appears quite frantic and fast paced, there was at least a 10 min break in between each round. Anne would leave the studio set and you had an opportunity to appeal questions you think you might have got right (happened a few times) have a drink, use the loo etc. If the appeal was upheld, you redid the whole round.
You then voted a person off and there would be another short break before they did the Anne speaking to people. We were warned that Anne was playing a character and that we should try to be witty.
They also asked you in your application forms what subjects/questions you would be good at - also what you would be weakest at. Surprise surprise people (including me) started getting multiple questions on their weak areas. We all realised as we discussed after the show. This leads me to believe the game is semi-fixed/stacked in certain people’s favour.
Fun experience - free food - did not win but was not the (first) ‘weakest link’.
A work colleague of mine was one of the couples in married at first sight.
She had a horrible experience, needed counseling afterwards and is still receiving an “appearance fee” (read hush money) even though her season aired like 5 years ago.
Her words: unReal may as well be a documentary
It’s not a game show, but I was at a group date for The Bachelorette. As you can imagine, the show is heavily produced. They only aired about 5% of what actually happened on the date. I have a really reactive face, so they used a bunch of my reactions in the show, but they were completely out of context because they cut all of the actual drama out of the date, and only aired the vanilla stuff. So one contestant says something like “women are always right” and they show me making this gasping face, that’s totally out of place haha.
I was in a sort of "kids racing games" show. It was cancelled shortly after I participated on it. I can't remember the exact details because I was like 6 or 7, but I will never forget how they made me feel. Basically, we were a bunch of little kids racing each other to complete the most games in a certain time, if you completed the whole thing (around 20 games or so) without the time running out nor breaking certain rules for each "level", you won a s**t ton of toys or something like that. They made "tests runs" that were actually them recording the whole thing without us knowing I completed the whole thing in like 7 minutes -it was suppossed to last at least 15- The "level helpers" took me aside and told me it was an amazing run so I got qualified to appear on the TV show. In the actual "recording", the level helpers sabottaged me, they grabbed me to prevent me from popping the balloons of the first level, pushed balloons away from me, pushed the correct balloons towards other kids (you were suppossed to pop balloons to find a key for the next level), gave me "time out" for breaking rules that I wasn't breaking. I specifically remember running up a ramp, after being sabbotaged a LOT by the ""helpers΅", to get to my next level, I was catching up to the other kids, and they f***ing grabbed my ankle and made me fall off the ramp. I was "disqualified", because "i took too long to get to the other level". They forced me to sit on the losers box and watch all of the other kids, that I had already beaten up in the test run, finish the thing and win. I did not appear in that episode when it showed on TV. Not even me "failing".
Not a gameshow but was in the audience for the steve Harvey show. Holy crap is he a shallow and fragile individual. We were told we could ask him questions between takes if he was in a good enough mood - which he would only be in if we reacted well during takes. We also were not allowed to ask him any questions about his teeth or mustache. He also said that his lifelong dream was always to just be on television and that's it.
I was a contestant on the Price is Right. They don't choose people at random. They interview everyone in the audience for about 30 seconds earlier in the day and decide who to pick based off that.
I was on Pointless in the UK. If you're the first couple to answer and haven't thought of anything, they just give you longer by doing some chatting with the other contestants.
Alex and Richard were incredibly friendly, and Richard has the biggest hands I've ever seen
I was in the audience of Polish versions of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. To prevent cheating you have to pass 2 metal detector Gates before entering studio. No phone or other electronic allowed. Everything takes sooo long here. Episode lasts around 30 minutes, but recording it - 2-3 hours, there are only 3 episodes recorded every day. Once the big screen behind host back broke and we had to sit for 4 hours until it was repaired. At least we got paid extra. Friend you phone in one of the lifelines is sitting in the same building as studio, just other room.
I've also been author of few question for Jeopardy (which is called Va Banque here, pretty badass name). Most of the authors had to be Ph.D. Or experienced experts in their field, I was accepted as a student just because they were short on economy and mathematics question. Sadly it was only one-time gig, but it was pretty fun seeing contestants trying to find question for answers I wrote. It also paid pretty nice, 100 złotys (so around $25) for each 5 question from 1 category which was like 15 minutes of work.
Not me but my uncle's friend went on Big Brother this year and was a COMPLETELY different person. They made him the villain of the show which is completely different to him in real life. IRL he's actually a really nice footy bloke.
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