Erin reflects on Hard Quiz oddity

THOSE channel surfing their television sets recently may have seen a local representative on the ABC game show Hard Quiz.
Newborough’s own Erin Tatlow not only appeared on the show, but went on to win thanks to her expert knowledge of legendary musician David Bowie.
Although the episode was a repeat after originally airing in 2018, the story of what went on behind the scenes for Ms Tatlow is an interesting one nonetheless.
The show, hosted by comedian Tom Gleeson, combines comedy and trivia, with Gleeson and the contestants usually baiting one another throughout the duration.
Ms Tatlow said she decided to apply to go on the show after a passing comment from her father.
“My dad mentioned once after he watched the show that I could go on it and possibly do well so I decided to apply online and see how it went,” she said.
“I’m a fan of the show, I watch it quite regularly, I like trivia shows in general and I’m obviously quite a big fan of David Bowie and know a lot of trivia about David Bowie.
“I enjoy trivia, I do the quiz in the paper every day and watch the occasional quiz show or maybe do a pub quiz … I wouldn’t call myself an expert, just an enthusiast.”
As Ms Tatlow explained, putting her name forward at the end of 2017 started an intensive process.
“The online application has a couple of aspects, it has a multiple choice quiz that is timed and you’re not supposed to use resources like Google, and then there is a few forms that you fill in to indicate your personality traits, interesting things you’ve done in your life, interesting things about you that might make you a good candidate for a TV show,” she said.
“The physical audition was a couple of months later so I was contacted to go to the ABC studios in Southbank.
“It took three-four hours to have a group
interview, there was 10 people at a time where the producers would ask questions about yourself and about your knowledge base.
“We did another multiple choice quiz then as well to make sure we had some trivia knowledge.
“We had a buzzer round to practise doing the quiz and then there was a filmed interview at the end.”
A speech pathologist by profession, Ms Tatlow said choosing a subject that didn’t leave too much room for unique questions like David Bowie as her expert subject ensured she would be in with a fighting chance of seeing her way through the rounds.
“It’s a bit of a risk to go for a subject other people are going to know about,” she said.
“On my episode a couple of times the other
contestants knew the answers to my questions because they were fairly well known answers so you have to be really quick with the buzzer
(contestants can gain bonus points by ‘stealing’ answers in someone else’s expert category).
“The producers are really good, when I was at the audition they made sure of the breadth of my knowledge on the topic because they don’t want to ask you questions that you’re not going to know. They don’t want to ask you questions that are really, really, tricky they want to give you a chance, so during the audition process I let them know where my strengths were.
“I knew a lot of details on track listings, album order releases, I knew a lot about his personal life and early life, I didn’t know so much about personal necessarily, things like statistics or progression of number ones I didn’t know, you let them know the breath of your knowledge and let them work with that.
“They have researchers to research the topics and make sure the questions are hard, obviously the show is called Hard Quiz, but the question are accessible to you.”
The show itself saw Ms Tatlow head to Melbourne, where her and three other contestants were briefed on what to expect.
“It’s filmed at Southbank. There is an audience there. I was told I could invite people to the taking to sit in the audience. I did not end up inviting anyone because I thought it would be too much pressure,” she explained.
“When I filmed it I was at a job in the Latrobe Valley, but by the time it went to air I had gone to a different job.
“We were shown a video explaining the rules of the game and we were told where we were going to have to stand and where we were going to have to move when we got down to the set and we all had to practise doing that in case we had to walk out from behind the podium into the centre and then walk out through the door.
“There was lots of information about what to do if we started to feel ill on set or if we thought there was something wrong with our question – there was a contestant producer there helping us.
“It’s filled mostly in order so from the start where Tom Gleeson walks out those are the first shots that are filmed.
“Most of the show was done in one take. Occasionally there would be pauses from the control room letting everyone know to stop for a second and adjust somebody’s outfit or adjust the cameras or get Tom Gleeson to repeat a line but everything the contestants said was done in one take.”
Putting her game face on once the opening round began, Ms Tatlow said she aimed to start on a positive note.
“I really wanted to make sure I got the questions in my subject correct, those five questions at the beginning of David Bowie,” she said.
“I figured if I could get those all right it would set up me to do well later and give me a bit of confidence.”
After nailing all five questions on Bowie, the next challenge saw a multiple choice round on questions relating to Australian singer Delta Goodrem, while the third round was basic trivia.
Making her way to the final round, Ms Tatlow was pitted against a PHD student named Andrew and his expert subject US serial killers.
With dramatic music humming in the
background, Ms Tatlow was up to the task and got her first four questions correct to take a 4-2 win in the penalty shootout style round.
On getting the winning question right, Gleeson then announced Ms Tatlow as “tonight’s Hard Quiz champion!”
Ms Tatlow accepted the Hard Quiz brass mug as her reward and was also given the perk of doing the shows “thanks for playing – hard!” sign off.
“I did not practise doing a sign-off. It was just completely improvised and I did a bit of a weird finger point which looked a bit strange on the TV … but oh well,” she said.
“The brass mug is very heavy. I didn’t get to take it home on the day because they send it off to get engraved.
“They film a bunch of episodes so they have a batch of mugs to send off. It arrived in the mail six weeks later in a big cardboard box.
“It’s got Hard Quiz embossed on both sides, my name engraved on both sides and it’s very shiny.”
After winning the show, Ms Tatlow then had to resist the urge to tell anyone.
“Afterwards I was pretty excited to tell someone, you’re supposed to keep it a secret, but I did tell my parents (about the win), it was very, very exciting,” she said.
“It was a really good experience. It’s not something that a lot of people do but makes a really great story to tell. It was a lot of fun.”
Despite being a Hard Quiz champion, Ms Tatlow hasn’t let the title get to her head.
“My family does have a copy of the Hard Quiz board game that we got at Christmas and I did not win,” she said laughingly.
“So I’m definitely not the quiz master.”
Now working in Hampton Park, Ms Tatlow was never able to see Bowie live before his death, but has kept her affinity with the music legend alive through no shortage of albums, posters and memorabilia.
As for the brass mug, it has taken on a practical use in the time since
“It’s on display in a bookshelf … I keep a candle in it,” Ms Tatlow said.

Big brass mug: Erin Tatlow with fellow Hard Quiz contestants and host Tom Gleeson. photograph thinkativetelevision/abc

Lights, camera, action: Former Newborough resident Erin Tatlow on the set of the ABC show Hard Quiz. photograph thinkativetelevision/abc