Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is a British television quiz show that offers a maximum cash prize of one million pounds for correctly answering successive multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty.
The UK version of the show is the country of origin that set the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? franchise. The first ever episode was aired on 4th September 1998 and the last ever episode was broadcast on 11th February 2014. Throughout its history, the show has been presented by Chris Tarrant, who is renowned for his quizzical facial expressions that don't give away the answer at all.
In early 2018, it was announced that Jeremy Clarkson would host the revived series of the show. 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 25th April, ITV announced that Series 31 would be every evening for a week, began from 5th and ended on 11th May.
On 14th September 2018, the planned resumption of production was officialy announced, with Jeremy Clarkson confirmed to be returning as the host for a full series, with six new episodes being broadcasted from 1st to 6th January 2019.
|Series||No. of episodes||Time of broadcast||Length of episode|
|1||11||4th September 1998 - 25th December 1998||30 minutes (60 minutes on the Christmas Special)|
|2||13||1st January 1999 - 13th January 1999||30 minutes (60 minutes on episodes 2, 9 and 12.)|
|3||12||5th March 1999 - 16th March 1999||30 minutes (60 minutes on episodes 2, 5, 7, 8)|
|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||6||1st January 2019 - 6th January 2019||60 minutes|
|33||?||? March 2019 - ? ? 2019|
Original 'Ten Night' Experiment
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.
Fastest Finger First
10 (or six) 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.
The original show had a 15-question money tree from 1998-2007, which was used again from 2018-present on the reboot series (and subsequently the next series). The 2018 revival (and series 32) has a slight change: the contestant can set the second milestone level anywhere between £2,000 and £500,000.
|Amount Lost for a|
From 2007-2014, the show had a 12-question money tree.
|Amount Lost for a|
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).
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.
During 2003-04, the show featured a special telephone game where viewers had to phone in and to answer questions so that they could win up to a virtual million pounds. However, the telephone game ended in 2004, and the Text Game followed up several weeks later.
The telephone number was 09064 72 72 72. Phone charges were via BT Landline at a cost of 60p for up to one minute.
Main article: Text game (UK)
The text game ran between 23rd October 2004 & 28th July 2007 on the UK version of the show. It was played when a contestant decides to take the money, or during the commercial break after the contestant gives a final answer but before the correct answer is 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 after 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.
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.
|£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.|
In episode on 22nd 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
- 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.
- 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 6th March 1999 and Martin Smith on 13th March 1999
- Chris Elliott on 20th November 2000 and Chris Elliott on 21st & 28th April 2007
- Phil Smith on 11th November 2006, Phil Smith on 31st March 2007, and Phil Smith on 17th & 24th 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 7th 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 19th March 2000 (15,880,000 people, 4th place in ITV weekly rating board).
- On 30th 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 27th September 2003 and 25th 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 31st 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 18th July 2009 and 6th 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 answered the for wrong answer. Gill lost £9,000 and Oli lost £93,000.
- On 23rd 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 6th 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 10th 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 9th November 2012 on Joe Pasquale & Phil Tufnell's £10,000 question. But, ironically, this incident happened on their fifth questions.
- Jubilee episodes:
- 1st October 2000 - the 100th show
- 11th October 2001 - the 200th show
- 30th November 2002 - the 300th show
- 19th March 2005 - the 400th show
- 18th March 2008 - the 500th show