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Blowing bubbles into holes on the greatest gameshow on Earth

You may not have heard of Minute To Win It and now it’s finished. But there’s still time to catch a few episodes online, as Tara Ward relives TV3’s final episode of the greatest talent show for the uncoordinated.

As TV3’s long run of Minute To Win It came to a sad end, I wanted to understand how a show of minute-long challenges involving everyday items could be such a massive worldwide hit. I gave myself sixty seconds to think about it, while simultaneously picking up six pieces of penne pasta using only my mouth and a piece of dry spaghetti.

At first glance, Minute To Win It is the stuff of nightmares. Guide oranges into a hula hoop using a banana tied at your waist? I don’t think so. Unspool two rolls of party streamers using only your arms? Tempting, but no. Bounce a ping pong ball onto a piece of bread covered in peanut butter? Wait, now you’re talking.

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The appeal of Minute To Win It is as obvious as catching a bucket of balls on your head. There’s a million bucks at stake, it’s a compelling and entertaining watch, and there’s little skill required. Even the most uncoordinated morons among us could give it a fair crack, our journey to fame and fortune paved with the useless crap hiding deep in our junk drawers.

Busy rummaging through his own junk drawer is today’s contestant, 61 year old Australian Harry. Harry has dedicated his life to the 60 second cause, spending every free minute knocking paper plates off glasses and chucking tiny balls at beer can pyramids. He records his results on a colour-coded spreadsheet: green is achieved, red is failed.

There are a lot of red columns on Harry’s spreadsheet.

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“I’ve had about a 59% success rate,” he says. They’re not great odds, but thankfully Harry has a plan B: lucky red socks. May as well hand over the $1 million now.

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Harry’s wild ride in the 60 Second Circle begins, and we’re as pumped as the balloon in his first challenge. Titled ‘This Blows’, Harry must blow up a balloon and use the air to push plastic cups off a table. Before you can say “everyone loves a lung-based challenge”, Hazza deals to those party cups like a $2 Shop boss.

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We advance quickly to round two – ‘Spoon Frog’ – where Harry has to flip three spoons into three glasses. It seems impossible to me, but then I have trouble holding my knife and fork like a grown up. After a shaky start, Harry proves himself master of the tablespoon, calmly catapaulting cutlery into glasses like he’s Tom Cruise in Cocktail.

Harry goes wild, the crowd goes crazy, and I am in awe of this nimble-fingered  sexagenarian.

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A guaranteed $2,500 burns a hole in Harry’s pocket while he tackles the next challenge, an uneasy test of balance and dexterity. Harry must swap three empty cans with three full cans, without dropping any or using his body as support.

Harry completely disregards the technique shown on the video blueprint. What does this crazy can-switching dissident think he’s doing? “You’ve got plenty of time!” shouts Harry’s friend. Did he misunderstand the name of the show? There’s only sixty seconds, ffs.

Can Harry do it? Of course he can can can.

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But it’s round four’s ‘Mega Bubble’ challenge that threatens to topple Harry’s million dollar tower of dreams. Harry shakes his head. He’s not good with bubbles. Somewhere in Australia, Harry’s spreadsheet is screaming “code red, code red!”, but Harry has a 59% success rate and he’s here until the bitter end.

Harry has to blow a bubble across the stage and through a hoop. It sounds simple enough, but twice he tries and fails, the cruel mistress of a bubble bursting on the hoop at the last moment.   $10,000 of Harry’s soapy hopes and dreams drip silently onto the floor.

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Harry has one last chance to conquer the bubble or be forced to relive this nightmare every time he does the dishes. The crowd roars their support. I gather up my best ANZAC spirit. Harry, we stand together.

It begins badly. Harry blows tiny globules of soapy spit that practically laugh in his face. The seconds tick down. Harry persists until finally, the perfect bubble: round, translucent, and most importantly, floaty. 59% sure it winked at the camera.

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Harry tiptoes around the stage, lips pursed in gentle exhalation. Walk it in, Hazza. Be the bubble.

8 seconds left and Harry breathes that little fecker right through the hoop.

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Not since Cocksy won Celebrity Treasure Island have I seen a prouder contestant. This is a moment of pure, unbridled joy. Whenever Harry’s mind goes to his happy place, I bet it involves tumbling cutlery and fluffy bubble clouds.

Alas, Harry’s Minute to Win It journey has peaked, just like those wayward bubbles. Exhausted and emotionally drained, Harry is eliminated in round five when his disobedient marbles fail to knock over a pencil. I bet the first thing Hazza does when he gets home is open Excel and colour this soul-destroying challenge in red.

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Harry leaves with $2,500 and a new-found hatred for pencils. Are they tears in his eyes? This blows.

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Sadly, there’s no time for reflection, because our next Minute to Win It contestant is ready to stick his nose into a bowl of Vaseline and pick up some cotton balls. I can’t wait.


Go on, dip your face into the crazy challenges of Minute To Win It.

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