- "Audience, we need your help. If you're ready, on your keypads, using A, B, C, or D, vote now!" - Regis Philbin
- "Ok, Audience, let's try and help (Contestant's name) get up to (Question amount). The question is (Reads question). Now A on your keypads is (Option A), B is (Option B), C is (Option C), and D is (Option D). A, B, C or D, it's worth (Question amount) All vote... Now!" - Chris Tarrant
- "All right, audience, we need a little help here for (Contestant's name). So let's pick up those keypads, and please enter your vote... Now! - Chris Harrison
- "Dear audience, we need your help. Take the buttons in their hands and choose a letter .... Now!" - István Vágó
Ask the Audience is one of the three original lifelines on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. When a contestant uses this lifeline, usually the host will re-read the question and the 4 possible answers (two if a 50:50 was previously used), and then the audience members will answer the question using an electronic keypad provided by the show with buttons A, B, C, and D.After 20 seconds (usually edited out in many versions), a graph displaying the percentage of people who voted for each answer is shown in the contestant's and host's monitors. After a brief read over of the results by the host, the contestant can choose to go with the audience or not, and if to use another lifeline.
This lifeline is notorious for its accuracy; even Regis Philbin once stated that the Audience is right 95% of the time. However, this usually applies only to the first 10 questions; this lifeline is usually no longer useful after question 10.
The Ask The Audience lifeline was one of the original three lifelines on the show, when it first aired in the UK on September 4th, 1998. The UK version used it for its entirety, and all versions of the U.S. show have used it to this day. Its look has changed over the years, but its usage has remained exactly the same.
Most versions of the show have used Ask the Audience at least once in their runs. Some versions have discarded it for different reasons, including, in some versions, the audience often deliberately giving a wrong answer to the contestant, making them lose.
From 2004-2006 on the syndicated U.S. version, the question was also asked through AOL Instant Messenger to those who had signed up to answer questions for this lifeline and add the username "MillionaireIM" to their buddylist. The contestant saw the studio-audience and AOL responses displayed separately. The AOL tie-in was discontinued beginning with the 2006-2007 season.
In the US and UK Clock Formats, when the contestant chose to use the lifeline, the clocked would be stopped. Once the results were in, the host would give a brief read over of the results, and then the clock would start again.
In some special episodes of the UK version, the lifeline was renamed "Ask the Nation". Whenever it was used, the studio audience would first respond, as per usual, but then Chris Tarrant would read out 4 phone numbers, and members of the public would ring that particular line for whichever answer they thought was correct. A slightly longer-than-usual break was taken, and the results were counted, before being shown to the audience. On these episodes, the percentages were much closer together than usual because of the vastly greater voting numbers.
In the US Syndicated version, an AOL vote was introduced for two seasons, as mentioned above.
There are variations of the Ask the Audience lifeline used in some versions of the show, some as stand-alone lifelines, and some as replacements for it. These include:
- Ask One of the Audience (Ask an Audience Member): Used in 2007 in the German version when a contestant plays in Risk Mode (known as 'Zusatzjoker'), in the Costa Rican version, where it is unlocked after reaching the first milestone (known as 'El Público Habla'), and in the Czech version since 2016 when a contestant plays the risk format (known as 'Pomoc diváka'). When used, audience members who think they know the answer stand up, and the contestant must pick one of them by looks only, and then discuss with him/her about the question. He may or may not choose any answer after that. If he chooses the suggested answer and it proves to be correct, the audience member will also receive a prize of €500 (5,000 Kč on the Czech version).
- Three of the Audience: Used on the Chilean version in 2007 (known as 'Tres del Público'), on the Vietnamese version (called 'Hỏi tổ tư vấn ở trường quay', but instead of standing up, the audience members raise their hand), and on the Finnish version since 2016 (known as 'Kysy yleisöltä', 'Ask the audience'). It has the same functionality as Ask One of the Audience, however the contestant gets to choose three members of the audience instead of just one.
- People Speak: Used on the Philippine version from 2011 until 2015, it has the same functionality as Three of the Audience, but the audience members who are correct will receive a share of a prize of ₱20,000. It replaced the Ask the Audience lifeline.
The graphic for the lifeline has changed several times over the show's run. It was originally black with a blue rim, with the main part showing 3 members of the audience standing shoulder to shoulder. The "person" graphic was carried over into other lifelines, such as "Ask One of the Audience" and in the UK 2014 game, "Ask the Saviour".
In the classic version of the show, when the lifeline was being used, the graphic changed colour, with the rim becoming white, the background orange, and the people's outline were black. Once used, a large red "X" was placed over the original state of the lifeline to represent that it had already been used.
In the UK 2007 update to the show, the 'people' on the lifeline remained present on the graphic, the rim changed to white, and the background a blue gradient. It is unsure if a 'in use' graphic was created, but the used graphic, like the classic version, was the normal graphic with a large red 'X'.
For the clocked format in the U.S., the graphic undertook a large change. Like the other lifeline graphics from the clocked version, they now were a gradient blue circle. The symbol on the lifeline was 3 people stood shoulder to shoulder, but they now had a more distinct 'body', rather than just pentagonal bodies. When used, the lifeline indicator was dimmed.
When the U.S. show entered its Shuffle Format in 2010, the lifelines changed again. Having a similar background to that of its clocked predecessor, the 'people' graphic now has 5 people, 3 at the front, 2 at the back. The same icon was used during the format change of Season 14. During Halloween Week of the eleventh season, it had a different appearance and it was called Pick the Audience's Brains.
The 2018 revival of the U.K. version has a new logo for the lifeline along with the new graphics and set, which was also used in series 32.
- During the live "The People Play" UK episodes in 2012, when the show returned to members of the public playing for £1,000,000 rather than celebrities for three episodes, on the £10,000 question of Donna Hearnden's run, an error in the studio (technical difficulties) resulted in all four percentages being displayed as 0%. This sometimes happened in pre-recorded episodes, but was always edited out. Chris Tarrant then asked the audience to hold up coloured voting cards to represent their vote. The exact same thing happened later that year, during the I'm a Celebrity special.
- On March 24, 2018, in the Kazakh version, a similar situation occurred. The contestant Yevgeny Malischuk used the "Ask the Audience" lifeline on the last question. All members of the audience refused to vote, perhaps to avoid confusing the contestant and/or influencing the contestant's guess, giving him a better chance to win the top prize. This is the first known occurrence in which none of the people in the audience voted for one of the answers.
- While this lifeline is notorious for its near-accuracy, this typically applies only to the first 10 questions; this lifeline is usually no longer useful after question 10, because the last 5 questions are typically the hardest and most obscurely trivial in nature. However, there have been a few rare cases in which the audience has been wrong within the first 10 questions, and conversely, there have also been a few rare cases in which the audience has been right within the last 5 questions. Examples of both scenarios are shown below.
An example of the audience being wrong within the first 10 questions
- Gill O'Donnell's £20,000 question:
|£20,000 (6 of 12) - Not Timed|
| Traditionally, what is the only occasion when alcohol is allowed into the chamber of the House of Commons?|
'50:50' and 'Ask the Audience' lifelines used
|• A: PM's question time||• B: Budget Speech|
|• C: State opening||• D: Election of new Speaker|
|Ask the Audience Results: A: 0% • B: 19% • C: 81% • D: 0%|
|Gill didn't know the answer, so she used her 50:50 lifeline, with options A and D removed. Still unsure, she decided to ask the audience, where C was the most favoured answer. Gill went with this answer, but this was incorrect, and she lost £9,000. Host Chris Tarrant noted that 81% of the audience being wrong is the highest percentage of the audience that he could ever recall being wrong on any occasion.|
An example of the audience being right within the last 5 questions
- Kate Heusser's £500,000 question:
|£500,000 (14 of 15) - Not Timed|
| New Sarum is the former name of which city? |
'50:50' and 'Ask the Audience' lifelines used
|• A: Salisbury||• B: Stoke-on-Trent|
|• C: Shrewsbury||• D: Sheffield|
|Ask the Audience Results: A: 70% • B: 0% • C: 30% • D: 0%|
|Although host Chris Tarrant noted that this was the first time that any contestant had ever used the Ask the Audience lifeline at this high of a level, this was actually a false fact; it was used on a £500,000 question one prior time, on Jonathan Green's run. The difference between Green's case and Heusser's case is that in Green's case, he did not also have his 50:50 lifeline available to narrow down the answer options, and that although the correct answer did get the most votes, it did not get the majority of votes, so he walked away with £250,000, whereas in Heusser's case, she did have her 50:50 lifeline available to her, so she used it first, in order to narrow down the answer choices, and then asked the audience, and in her case, the correct answer did get the majority of the votes, so she went for it, and won £500,000. This occasion turned out to be one of the rare occurrences in which the audience was actually right within the last 5 questions; in the majority of cases, when a contestant asks the audience within the last 5 questions, the audience is usually wrong, or the results would've been spread out. Had the audience been wrong on this occasion, Heusser would have become the second person and first female to have lost £218,000.|
For a list of incidents in which the audience was wrong within the first 10 questions, as well as a list of occurrences in which the audience was right within the last 5 questions, see the Audience's Results statistics page.
- In Brandon Saunders' game, the second question asks about the nickname given to a "sultry late night programming" cable channel with the options: A. HBOgasm; B. Independent Filth Channel; C. Skinemax; D. Screwtime. Brandon decided to ask the audience and got the humorous result as 69% of the audience chose C. Eventually, Brandon chose C and won $5,000 for the question.
- Once in the U.S. syndicated version, a question about Parmesan cheese packaging appeared, the contestant chose to ask the audience, and the results showed 100% going for D. This was the correct answer.
- A 100% also appeared in UK twice, on Scott Rourke's £1,000 question on September 27, 2003 and on Thomas Lees's £4,000 question on February 25, 2006.
- A 100% also appeared in Vietnam, on Phạm Thị Thu's ₫10,000,000 question, Trần Văn Tiền's ₫200,000 question on April 26, 2016, and on Dương Mạnh Hoàng 's đ3,000,000 question on February 6, 2018.
- However, on Phạm Thị Thu's ₫10,000,000 question, 100% of the audience were wrong.
- A 100% also seven times appeared on Russia, on Nikolay Turkin's 15,000 rubles question on May 30, 2009, on Dmitry Fadeyev's 5,000 rubles question on February 6, 2010, on Vladimir Kruzhalov's 15,000 rubles question on September 4, 2010, on Irada Zeynalova and Alim Yusupov's 15,000 rubles question on March 19, 2011, on Marina Tkach's 2,000 rubles question on March 26, 2011, on Sergey Voronov's 5,000 rubles question on July 2, 2011, as well as on Era Kann and Mikhail Ozerov's 50,000 rubles question on December 26, 2015.
- A 100% also appeared in Japan, on Keiko Masudo's ¥500,000 question on May 25, 2005.
- A 100% also appeared in Albania, on Kristian Peçi's €250 question on May 31, 2010 (Junior Special).
- A 100% also appeared in Venezuela twice, on a contestant’s Bs.F 150 question on February 24, 2009 and on a contestant’s Bs. 200 question.
- A 100% also appeared in India (Hindi) twice, on Vijyendra Pratap Singh‘s Rs. 40,000 question on October 13, 2014 and on Nilesh Katrodiya’s Rs. 2,000 question on September 26, 2017.
- A 100% also appeared in Costa Rica ten times, but twice the audience were wrong.
- On July 16, 2013 was the only ever episode where the 100% audience had voted for the same answer twice.
- A 100% also appeared in Poland, on Anna Kudra's 500 zł question on May 16, 2017.
- A 100% also appeared in Bulgaria, on a contestant’s 1,000 lev question on February 25, 2009.
- A 100% also appeared in Kazakhstan, on Serik Utkulbayev's 40,000 tenge question on November 4, 2017.
- A 100% also appeared in The Netherlands, on a contestant's 2,000 euro question somewhere between 2006 and 2007.
- During David Goodman's Million Dollar Question, 1% of the audience voted for C. despite this option being previously eliminated by the 50:50.
- This also occurred during Jason Alexander's $500,000 question when 4% said B and 1% said D.
- This, yet again, occurred during Shari Belafonte's $250,000 question when 1% chose C.
- Voting for a "blank" option previously removed by 50:50 also occurred on October 28, 1999 in Poland, where 10% vote for C.
- On August 2, 2017 in Czech Republic after Aleš Černík on 5th question the 50:50 and Ask the Audience lifelines using, 3% voted for "blank" choice of answer.
- In Slovenia, during Bogdan Kopmajer's game, audience voted for blank answer C - 3%.
- The audience once had 25% of the vote for all four answers.
- Ndriçim Seferi's €350 question (Albanian Version)
- The audience once had a 50/50 split between two answers, both getting 50% of the vote. (The other two answers had been eliminated by 50:50)
- Huey Lewis's $125,000 question
- Ivan Dobiáš's 20,000 Kč question
- Zdeněk Tichý's 160,000 Kč question
- Trần Minh Hùng's ₫6,000,000 question
- On February 14, 2004, in the episode there was an amazing case in the history of the show. Svetlana Izvekova and Alexey Kuznetsov used the "Ask the Audience" lifeline, votes were: A - 50%, B - 0%, C - 0%, D - 50%. After the "50:50" lifeline used, B and C were the remaining answers. 100% of the audience failed.
- On March 13, 2010 on Vladimir Kutuzov's 50,000 rubles question audience voted also (A - 50%, B - 0%, C - 0%, D - 50%), but without "50:50", and 100% failed again, the right answer was C. In both cases no one voted for the correct answer.
- On August 11, 2012 on Nadezhda Dias's 200,000 rubles question audience voted equally: A - 50%, B - 0%, C - 50%, D - 0%. She took the money, right answer was C.
- There were some cases that audience answered 4 answers, but split in two choices.
- This happened in Vietnamese version, on Trần Quang Phát's ₫9,000,000 question on November 1st, 2011. He was asked "During which dynasty was Báo Thiên tower built?" The audience later split into two choices, 43% both went for B. Trần and C. Lý, 7% both went for A. Đinh and B. Lê. After using Ask Three of the Audience and Phone-a-Friend lifeline, he went for B, which turned out to be incorrect. Only one person in the Ask Three of the Audience lifeline voted for C, won ₫600,000 for answered correctly.
- While there was never an occurrence of all four answers receiving 25% of the vote on the U.S. Primetime version of the show, there were a few close calls, such as on Michael Lowenstein's $64,000 question (seen below), when there was only a 5% difference between the most popular and least popular choice (in this particular case, the extremely slim 27% plurality was actually correct.)
- An even closer call occurred on Drew Bayers' $20,000 question, with the most popular choice and least popular choice differing by only 2% (24%, 25%, 25%, 26% respectively). Drew went with the 24%, answering A, which turned out to be correct.
- On occasion, when a contestant chooses to ask the audience, a high percentage of them would vote for an incorrect answer by accident and the contestant would go with them, thus getting eliminated from the game.
- In the U.S., the highest percentage that occurred was when David Rhodes was asked about what the M in "RMS Titanic" stood for. 91% voted for B: Monarch, but the correct answer was C: Mail, which only 2% voted for.
- On the primetime version of the U.S. show, Grant Schindler was asked "Which of the following online magazines is owned by Microsoft?" with the choices: A: Salon, B: Wired, C: Feed, or D: Slate. A whopping 80% of the audience went with Wired, which was incorrect. Just 8% responded with the correct answer, Slate.
- This also happened in U.K. for Gill O'Donnell when 81% of the audience voted for C: State opening as the only occasion when alcohol is allowed in the British House of Commons. The other 19% voted for the correct answer: B: Budget speech.
- Before that, it happened for Suzanne Barton & Tom Lynch when 80% (1% lower than the one before) of the audience voted for C: Stagecoach as what does a postilion ride. But, the correct answer was D: Horse, which only 3% voted for.
- This also happened in Nigeria for Chukwuma Eze when 83% of the audience voted for B: New York Yankees as to who won the 2003 World Series. The other 17% went with D: Texas Rangers. Strangely, the correct answer was C: Florida Marlins where no one went with.
- The odd fact that only two options got any votes at all may suggest that a small number of people voted, giving figures like these.
- An infrangible broken record in Costa Rica on July 9 & 16, 2013, Kendell Apiser and Eduardo Cerdás respectively had lifeline used where 100% voted for wrong answer and 0% voted for right.
- In Vietnam, contestants Phạm Thị Thu and Nguyễn Thu Huyền lifeline used where 100% voted for wrong answer (D option), and 0% voted for right.
- In Japan on May 11, 2000, contestant Takayuki Yoshida lifeline used where 63% voted for wrong answer (A option), and 14% voted for right. Question asked, "Which organs are involved in the vocalization in the dolphin's body?" with A: Pine, B: Melon, C: Lemon and D: Banana as choices. Correct answer was B: Melon.
- Also on September 7, 2006, Ebizō Ichikawa on 14th question had 70% audience, who voted for wrong answer after the using of lifeline, 7% is right.
- On even fewer occasions, the audience would be split between two choices, both of which turn out to be incorrect.
- Contestant Steve Perry was asked: 'In the TV series "The Brady Bunch", what is Carol Brady's maiden name?'. The audience were split between Martin (33%) and Nelson (34%), but then used the 50:50 and eliminated both Martin and Nelson, after using Phone a Friend as well, Steve decided to walk away with $500,000. The correct answer is Tyler, which 14% of the audience went with.
- Contestant Jim Cutler was asked which of these pop singers is related to the comedian Benny Hill. Jim asks the audience. The audience were split between C: Dido (42%) and D: Sophie Ellis-Bextor (41%), so Jim decides to use his 50:50. This eliminates C, the audience's most popular option. So he went with D: Sophie Ellis-Bextor, but the other 41% are wrong. The correct answer was B: Holly Valance, which 15% of the audience went with.
- Contestant Kelly was asked about which conflict the Robert Capa photo "Falling Soldier" was taken during. The audience were split between 40% B: Korean War and 41% D: World War I. She decided to Double Dip, going first for D, then B, but the 16% who voted for A: Spanish Civil War were actually correct.
- On January 10, 2017, contestant Joe Taglic faced a question asking what invention has been called "the most important event in recent human evolution." 48% each voted for A: Typewriter and D: Phonograph. However, neither were right. The correct answer was B: Bicycle, which only 1% of the audience voted for. This was one of the lowest percentages to be correct.
- In Russia on April 1, 2017, Dušan Perović and Yekaterina Andreyeva were asked what is a reaper, B: hat & C: disease are both 39%, which there both wrong. However, they went for D: furnace, which 20% of the audience voted for, unfortunately that is wrong, too. The correct answer is A: cropper, which is only 2%, also one of the lowest percentages to be correct.
- When contestants asked the audience and when they gave the highest percentage of an answer, contestants couldn't trust them, so they either take the money or give an incorrect answer.
- Contestant Gerry Lennon was asked on his £250,000 question what is a 'bichon frisé? and he decided ask the audience. They gave 93% for A: Dog, which is one of the highest percentages for an answer. But, Gerry couldn't go for it and after using 50:50 and Phone a Friend as well, he decides to take £125,000. The answer was A: Dog.
- American Contestant Allen Harris was asked on his $500,000 question which author's first and only novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction? and after Phoning a friend, he decided to ask the audience. They gave 80% for A: Harper Lee. But, Allen couldn't go for it, so he decides to walk away with $250,000. The answer was A: Harper Lee.
- Also happened in Norway, when a female contestant answered her first question wrong, after ignoring the audience.
- Hape Kerkeling who played in 10 Years Anniversary in Germany was asked on €125.000: "Which song was at first place in a German charts at 9th November 1989 - the date of Fall of the Berlin Wall?" Audience voted 89% for answer B: Wind of Change. Kerkeling called to his friend, who said it is A: Lambada, which had 9% of votes. Hape, as his friend did, answered A and won €125.000.