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Miss Roberts Remembers
Life  as  a  quizz  show  star  on  
television

By Beryl Newton

(Miss Roberts Came to Maleny as a school teacher.    She was a city girl coming to the country and taught at the Curramore State School.      She married a Maleny farmer and lived a very happy life in the Maleny District with Bill, her husband who passed away in the late 1990's.    Miss Roberts is better known to us today as Mrs. Beryl Newton.)

So now we’ve had forty years of television here in Maleny.   The gentleman who said long ago that one picture was worth a thousand words certainly knew what he was talking about.   To add to our education and amusement, our enjoyment or disgust, news, hilarious comedy, heart-wrenching tragedy, challenging commentaries, and documentaries, art, drama, music, hot air rhetoric, sitcoms and every school subject under the sun - and the moon - by means of thousands of pictures, and also, let’s face it, slush and sludge as well.      I’m afraid that, in the pursuit of reality and realism, too often modesty, dignity and restraint seem to have been sacrificed.

 

Being a middle-brow, I can appreciate most subjects presented to me (but please, fewer of the Love Life of the African Tse Tse Fly kind), first in black and white, when announcers, comperes and contestants were asked not to wear black as it just disappeared from the screen, leaving disembodied heads and hands moving about, and later, of course, glorious colour came in.

(Photo Left  Berryl Newton with Roland Strong of "Coles Quiz"

However, my special interests are panel games and quizzes.   Immediately there comes to mind Bob and Dolly Dyer with Pick-a-Box, Barry Jones and Frank Partridge, Jack Davey, Tony Barber, Roland Strong, Terry Dear and Philip Brady, among others.    Eric Baume and John Laws were really very beastly to panelists Ena Harwood, Hazel Phillips and Dita Cobb in Beauty and the Beast.    Babette Stephens, Joy Chambers, Ron Cadee and Ken Lord figured in Twenty Questions or I’ve Got a Secret.   In the former, if the answer were to be “vegetable”, Ron Cadee always asked “Can you eat it?”.  I am blessed with a fairly good memory, and I love reading.

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My chief interest in those days was, and still is, the study of English Monarchy, so I decided to apply to be a contestant on Coles Quiz with Roland Strong as compere and Beverly Robbins as hostess.    We were allowed to choose our own subject, so I applied to the particular TV station to be considered.   When enough contestants had applied, we had to sit for a written test.   There were about 100 of us, and there were 100-150 general knowledge questions to be answered.   Those of us who weathered that storm then had a personal interview with Mr Strong, in which we endeavoured to show we had a suitably sparkling, appealing personality (wow!).  


Tony Barber & Barb Rodgers

Then we waited to see if we had made the grade.  I was called up in 1966, and the first test was held in Brisbane in front of a live audience.    There were three contestants at a time, each with a different subject to provide more interest to the audience.    We each made it over our four questions and the next week we all went to Toowoomba where the quiz was held in the open air.   Week three found me in Melbourne, all expenses paid, with an overnight stay.    Here I met my Waterloo.   Though in ordinary times I well knew the answers, my mind just went blank, as did a certain Maleny lady, a double-certificated nursing sister who could not remember that another name for the backbone was the spine or spinal column.

Ah well, I missed out on the $6000, but won a trip to New Zealand for Bill and me, plane flight to and from, accommodation at Waitangi, Waitomo, Tongariro and Rotorua, car and petrol for the fortnight, and camera and equipment - all worth $3000.

Lovely memories.   Next venture - Concentration.  I came home with three men’s shirts, two pipes and an ironing board.   I didn’t care much for Sale of the Century with Tony Barber.  That bell, buzzer, rewards off the board, and penalties for wrong answers really inhibit response.    I still have the gold pen, however, adorned with the smallest diamond I’ve ever seen.

My favourite experience, though, was Money Makers with Philip Brady.   There were only two contestants at a time, pitted against each other.    We were both asked the same question, each of us wearing earphones which were turned off while the other person answered the question.   While we weren’t given unlimited time to answer, we weren’t hassled.   No rewards, no money off the board, no money or the box, no lost points for a wrong answer.   To me that was the fairest quiz of all.   I think we were asked about 15 questions each, and there was a clear winner.      I won $1000 and retired.

A few weeks later I was brought back from a holiday in Moranbah (west of Mackay) by plane for a second session.    Again I won $1000 and retired.     My winnings helped to buy a new car.

All great fun, really, and pretty rewarding, but I don’t think it was the rewards that mattered, but the contesting.

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Like the naked city there are a thousand stories in the
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