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Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is a British television quiz show that offers a maximum cash prize of one million pounds (£1,000,000) for correctly answering successive multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty. The original UK version of the show launched the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? franchise.

The original show was presented by Chris Tarrant. It lasted for 30 series, from 4 September, 1998 to 11 February, 2014. Four years after the conclusion of the original show, it was revived for a 20th anniversary special, which was presented by Jeremy Clarkson from 5 to 11 May, 2018. Due to its success, it was announced that the revived show would return in January 2019, and subsequently in March 2019.

Game series

Series No. of episodes Time of broadcast Length of episode
1 11 4th September 1998 - 25th December 1998 30-60 minutes
2 13 1st January 1999 - 13th January 1999 30-60 minutes
3 12 5th March 1999 - 16th March 1999 30-60 minutes
4 12 3rd September 1999 - 14th September 1999
5 18 5th November 1999 - 26th December 1999
6 7 16th January 2000 - 22nd January 2000
7 13 26th March 2000 - 1st May 2000
8 55 7th September 2000 - 6th January 2001
9 45 8th January 2001 - 26th April 2001
10 45 8th September 2001 - 4th December 2001
11 55 5th January 2002 - 9th April 2002
12 20 31st August 2002 - 28th December 2002
13 22 4th January 2003 - 31st May 2003
14 21 30th August 2003 - 27th December 2003
15 23 3rd January 2004 - 5th June 2004
16 16 18th September 2004 - 25th December 2004
17 25 1st January 2005 - 11th June 2005
18 11 17th September 2005 - 31st December 2005
19 27 7th January 2006 - 8th July 2006
20 13 9th September 2006 - 6th January 2007
21 17 10th March 2007 - 28th July 2007
22 11 18th August 2007 - 30th October 2007
23 19 1st January 2008 - 3rd June 2008
24 18 16th August 2008 - 31st January 2009
25 20 13th June 2009 - 20th December 2009
26 8 13th April 2010 - 8th June 2010
27 11 3rd August 2010 - 23rd December 2010
28 6 2nd April 2011 - 19th December 2011
29 11 3rd January 2012 - 20th December 2012
30 11 1st January 2013 - 11th February 2014
31 7 5th May 2018 - 11th May 2018 60 minutes
32 11 1st January 2019 - 8th March 2019 60 minutes
33 ? 2019 - 2019 60 minutes

History

Original series

Originally, the show was set up for a ten night run that involved the public being able to play by picking up the phone and dialing 0891 44 44 44 and answering a question. Then randomly the computer would pick 100 and then the 10 that answer another question correctly will go through. The show proved to be popular so came back for a real series soon after.

The first episode of the show aired on 4th September 1998. It was presented by Chris Tarrant, who is renowned for his quizzical facial expressions that don't give away the answer at all. The show proved to be successful in its early years, but as time passed and some minor changes have been made to the show, the interest in the show slowly declined.

Eventually, in October 2013, Chris Tarrant announced that he would be leaving the show. His final episode on the show, a clip show entitled "Chris' Final Answer", aired on 11th February 2014, marking the end of the original version of the show.

Revival series

Four years later, in early 2018, it was announced that the show would be revived to celebrate its 20th anniversary, with Jeremy Clarkson presenting the new series of the show.[3]

More news of the show's revival were released on Friday 9th March, when BBC Breakfast announced the show's revival and duration of seven episodes. In mid-April, the official trailer was released on ITV's YouTube channel, and on 25 April, ITV announced that Series 31 would be every evening for a week, began from 5th and ended on 11th May.

On 14 September, 2018, the planned resumption of production was officially announced, with Jeremy Clarkson confirmed to be returning as the host for a full series, with six new episodes being broadcasted from 1 to 6 January 2019. After this, the revived show was subsequently renewed again for a new series in March 2019.

Gameplay elements

Fastest Finger First

Main article: Fastest Finger First

10 (or six, for the 2018 reboot and for later seasons) new contestants are introduced each night after a previous Hot Seat contestant exits. In the first series, after the introductions, the contestants are asked a multiple choice question similar to those given to Hot Seat contestants, and must enter the correct answer on their keypad within 20 seconds. After the time is up, The computer will then give the correct answer, check who got it right, and flash the player who got it in the fastest time; that player advances to the Hot Seat. From the second series until the show's end, the format changed to the version that soon spread to all other versions around the world: The 10 (or six) contestants are given a question and four answers, and must put those answers in the correct order, within 20 seconds. After the time is up, the computer will then give the correct order, check who got it right, and flash the player who got it in the fastest time; that player advances to the Hot Seat as before.

Money tree

The original show had a 15-question money tree from 1998-2007. This was used again on the reboot series in 2018 and every series thereafter, albeit with a slight change: the contestant can set the second milestone level anywhere between the £2,000 question and the £500,000 question.

Question
No.
Correct Answer
Value
Walk Away
Value
Miss Answer
Value
Amount Lost for a
Wrong Answer
1 £100 £0 £0 £0
2 £200 £100 £0 £100
3 £300 £200 £0 £200
4 £500 £300 £0 £300
5 £1,000 £500 £0 £500
6 £2,000 £1,000 £1,000 £0
7 £4,000 £2,000 £1,000 £1,000
8 £8,000 £4,000 £1,000 £3,000
9 £16,000 £8,000 £1,000 £7,000
10 £32,000 £16,000 £1,000 £15,000
11 £64,000 £32,000 £32,000 £0
12 £125,000 £64,000 £32,000 £32,000
13 £250,000 £125,000 £32,000 £93,000
14 £500,000 £250,000 £32,000 £218,000
15 £1,000,000 £500,000 £32,000 £468,000

From 2007-2014, the show had a 12-question money tree.

Question
No.
Correct Answer
Value
Walk Away
Value
Miss Answer
Value
Amount Lost for a
Wrong Answer
1 £500 £0 £0 £0
2 £1,000 £500 £0 £500
3 £2,000 £1,000 £1,000 £0
4 £5,000 £2,000 £1,000 £1,000
5 £10,000 £5,000 £1,000 £4,000
6 £20,000 £10,000 £1,000 £9,000
7 £50,000 £20,000 £1,000 £19,000
8 £75,000 £50,000 £50,000 £0
9 £150,000 £75,000 £50,000 £25,000
10 £250,000 £150,000 £50,000 £100,000
11 £500,000 £250,000 £50,000 £200,000
12 £1,000,000 £500,000 £50,000 £450,000

In both cases, the values are not cumulative; for example; if the contestant answers the first 2 questions correctly, he or she wins £200, not £300 (i.e. £100 + £200).

Lifelines

There were 3 lifelines available to all contestants prior to the 2010 Clocked version, when a fourth was introduced. Some celebrity specials also gave a fourth lifeline, and a few of the 'milestone' shows.

  • 50:50: The computer eliminates two incorrect answers, leaving one incorrect answer and the correct answer.
  • Phone-a-Friend: The contestant calls one of up to 3 friends, who provided their phone numbers in advance. The contestant has 30 seconds to read the question and answer choices to the friend, who then has the remaining time to offer input.
  • Ask The Audience: Audience members use touch pads to designate what they believe the correct answer to be. The audience choosing each specific option is displayed to the contestant.
  • Switch (2002-2003, 2010–2014): Only became available when a contestant reached £50,000. A contestant may swapped their question for a different one. This was used back in 2002 and 2003 when a contestant got rid of a lifeline. A "Q" symbol will appear on the selected lifeline, therefore, the selected lifeline can't be used again. Originally, this lifeline was called 'Flip' and it was activated when a contestant or couple chose to get rid of a available lifeline to flip a question that they didn't want to answer and had a "F" symbol. That version of Switch was available during the 300th show.
  • Ask the Host (2018-present): The host, who has no connection to the outside world, and who hasn't seen the questions beforehand, can give an idea to the contestant on what he thinks the correct answer is.

Competitions for viewers

Telephone Game

The show featured a special telephone game which ran throughout Series 15, where viewers had to phone in and to answer questions so that they could win up to a virtual million pounds.

The telephone number was 09064 72 72 72. Phone charges were via BT Landline at a cost of 60p for up to one minute.

Text Game

Main article: Text game (UK)

The text game ran between 23 October, 2004 & 28 July, 2007 on the UK version of the show. In Series 16, 17, 18 & 19 it was only played after a contestant decides to take the money, however this was later changed for Series 20 & 21 when it was played during the commercial break after the contestant gives a final answer which has not yet been revealed.

Chris Tarrant reads out the question and its choices to the viewers. The viewers had to text the letter of the correct answer (A, B, C or D) within 30 seconds, or during the commercial break, after which the correct answer was revealed and one viewer won £1,000.

The mobile phone number of this text game was 07797 808 900. Entries were via SMS at a cost of £1 per message.

Tonight's Viewer Question

From S22 EP1, the show featured a competition game called "Tonight's Viewer Question". The competition offered viewers at home to play the game where they had to answer a four-choice question similar to those in the main game, either via SMS or BT Landline. The competition ran through most of the programme, after which the answer was revealed and the programme ended. A random viewer who answered the question correctly would then win £1,000.

The telephone number 09012 93 1000 and text number 84644 replaced the mobile number 07797 808 900 of the previous text game. Entries costed a maximum flat rate of £1.

Parodies

The IT Crowd

  • In the third episode "Fifty-Fifty", Daniel Carey was a contestant on the show. But, not physically shown in the episode.


£32,000 or £64,000 (10 or 11 of 15) - Not timed
Who composed 'The Wooden Prince'?
"50:50" and "Phone a Friend" lifelines used
• A: Bartók • B: Chopin
• C: • D:
Daniel first used 50:50, eliminating C & D, then phoned Jen Barber asks her for dinner with him tomorrow night, she says yes. She unfortunately does not know the answer to the question and gives Daniel the wrong answer, costing him £31,000.

The Jonathan Ross Show

  • In an episode of the show with Jonathan Ross as host and Chris Tarrant as contestant parody was shown.
    7F42A249-137B-4BA2-81F5-61FC69F0078B


£6.07 and a mint - Not timed
How quickly does Olly Murs drink a pint of milk?
"Ask the Audience", "Phone a Friend", & "50:50" used
• A: 3 seconds • B: 5 seconds
• C: 7 seconds • D: 10 seconds
Ask the Audience Results: A: 25% • B: 25% • C: 25% • D: 25%
Chris wanted to take the money but wasn't allowed so he asked the audience. Since all the results came back at 25% each he asked to Phone a Friend, he was only allowed to phone Keith Lemon, who thought it was 3 seconds. Jonathan Ross suggested to use 50-50 so Chris did which took away A and D. Keith then phoned them back saying it was 5 seconds. Chris then made 7 seconds his final answer which was incorrect, so he didn't win the money or mint.

Kelly

In episode on 22 November, 2001, Gerry Kelly, a host of a UTV talk show Kelly (1989-2005) appeared in a 'special' edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? with Chris Tarrant (without the studio audience), who also appears as a guest on the chat show. This episode was broadcast shortly after it was revealed that criminal proceedings had started against Charles Ingram, who won £1,000,000 by cheating. Mr. Kelly walked away with £32,000, answering the £500,000 question wrong.

Harry and Paul

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  • In an episode of Harry and Paul, Derek Anderson is on the show with a fake Chris Tarrant and is asked the following question:
£100 (1 of 15) - Not TImed
2 + 2 = ?
• A: 5 • B: 8.735
• C: 186 • D: 4
Derek says that A has a ring to it, but so does B. He doesn't think it's C but doesn't know why. He also says it could be D, or A, or B. Chris Tarrant has to hurry him so he goes for D. Chris looks at him, sighs deeply and reveals...that he just won £100!

The two then shoot the stage up with assault rifles.

Contestants

Main article: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (UK version)/List of Contestants

Trivia

  • The old episodes of the show are still being repeated on the "Challenge" channel, and for a while ITV1 also broadcast interesting moments from the old episodes of English and foreign versions in the program "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" Classic.
  • The oldest ever contestant on the show was 75-year-old Bernard Marco on 11th November 1999, and the youngest ever contestant on the show was 18-year-old Michelle McGeachy on 5th March 1999. The average age of participants from the show is 41 years old. The most frequent names of participants were John and Ann.
  • The average result in the Fastest Finger First was 6.41 seconds.
  • The total winnings are almost £60,000,000. The average total winnings for the episodes are £114,238, the average winner is £50,200, the average male contestant win is £49,600 and the average winnings of the female contestant is £48,500.
  • Martin Skillings, Ben Bartle, Gerry Lennon, Diane Hallagan, Dougie Wilson, Rob Mitchell and James Plaskett were the seven contestants in the UK to save all three lifelines for the £250,000 question.
    • None of them won the top prize on the show.
  • The biggest loss in the game was £218,000 by Duncan Bickley and Rob Mitchell. The most money ever officially lost by a couple was £93,000 by Robert Brydges & Judith Chalmers and Russell Grant & Sheila Ferguson.
    • Laurence and Jackie Llewelyn Bowen originally lost £468,000, but they were given a bad question for the top prize. As such, they were invited again into the studio, where they were given a second top prize question. This time, they walked away with £500,000.
  • As of 11th May 2018, the total duration of the show is 10 days 15 hours 30 minutes.
  • Several pairs of unrelated contestants on the show had the same first names and surnames.
    • Martin Smith on 6 March, 1999 and Martin Smith on 13 March, 1999
    • Chris Elliott on 20 November, 2000 and Chris Elliott on 21 & 28 April, 2007
    • Phil Smith on 11 November, 2006, Phil Smith on 31 March, 2007, and Phil Smith on 17 & 24 August, 2010
  • The most "expensive" series was 2000-2001 series, where £7,782,000 was won, presumably due to three Top Prize Winners being crowned (Judith Keppel, David Edwards and Robert Brydges, but not Charles Ingram, due to the infamous scandal)
  • The total number of contestants in the UK version's history is 1,840 people (in the hot seat - 402).
  • The smallest non-zero prize a contestant has won on the show is £500 (Cheryl Turner and Sheridan Booth, but the latter had his winnings taken away due to being a criminal). Craig Logue was one of the other few contestants who used all three lifelines before the first safe level (but he won £2,000).
  • The fastest contestant in Fastest Finger First was Jonathan Pash (aired on 6th May 2008), who managed to press the keys in just 0.97 seconds.
  • Charles Ingram was infamous as being the only UK contestant who was caught in deception and deliberate cheating. Thanks to the walkie-talkie and the fan in the studio, who coughed the right number of times on each question, he "won" the top prize of £1,000,000, which was later taken away.
  • The most widely watched episode in the 20th century was the episode on 7 March, 1999, which was watched by 19,210,000 people (2nd place in the ITV weekly rating board), and in the 21st century - episode on 19 March, 2000 (15,880,000 people, 4th place in ITV weekly rating board).
  • On 30 November, 2002, the 300th anniversary show was shown. While the contestants used the Ask the Audience lifeline, TV viewers were also given the opportunity to correctly answer this question: for each of the four answers, a phone number was provided so that the viewer could give the answer that he thinks is right by calling the appropriate phone number.
  • On 27 September, 2003 and 25 February, 2006, there were two cases of a 100% vote on the £1,000 and £4,000 questions. When after the contestant used the Ask the Audience lifeline, 100% of the audience voted for the correct answer.
  • On 31 March, 2007, the right order for Fastest Finger First was (you guessed it!) A-B-C-D.
  • In 2008, a fortuneteller predicted that Richard Ronaldson (appeared on 18th November - 2nd December) at the age of 35 would have become the sixth million pound winner, but her prophecy did not come true and he won only £10,000.
  • On 18 July, 2009 and 6 January, 2019, there were unusual cases on the £20,000 and £250,000 questions respectively: Gill O'Donnell and Oli Blake both took advantage of the Ask the Audience after 50:50, but 81% of the audience voted for the wrong answer. Gill lost £9,000 and Oli lost £93,000.
  • On 23 December, 2010, a Christmas special episode aired. The show was live and the audience had the opportunity to win up to £500,000, answering the question correctly by phone (release review).
  • From 6 December, 2011 to 2014, the Russian TV channel "Questions and Answers" aired episodes of the series from the 2007-2010 years (including the clocked series) with Russian translations.
  • On 10 July, 2012 during the game of Donna Hearnden, the "Ask the Audience" failed to work (A - 0%, B - 0%, C - 0%, D - 0%) due to a technical failure with the keypads, as a result of which Chris Tarrant asked the audience to pick up pre-prepared tablets with the letter of the correct, in their opinion, answer. Most raised the plate with the correct answer. This also happened on 9 November, 2012 on Joe Pasquale & Phil Tufnell's £10,000 question. But, ironically, this incident happened on their fifth questions.
  • Jubilee episodes:
    • 1 October, 2000 - the 100th show
    • 11 October, 2001 - the 200th show
    • 30 November, 2002 - the 300th show
    • 19 March, 2005 - the 400th show
    • 18 March, 2008 - the 500th show

Notes and References

  1. Major Charles Ingram answered all 15 questions correctly and won £1,000,000, but it has later revealed that he has cheated all the way to the million, so he was stripped of his prize.
  2. A celebrity couple answered their original Million Pound Question incorrectly, but due to an error with the question, they were invited back, where they walked away with £500,000.
  3. HuffPost article about the 20th anniversary reboot

External Links

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