Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Wiki

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, with a number of series since.

Game series

Series No. of episodes Broadcast
1 11 4th September - 25th December 1998
2 13 1st - 13th January 1999
3 12 5th - 16th March 1999
4 13 3rd - 14th September 1999
5 17 5th November - 25th December 1999
6 7 16th - 22nd January 2000
7 13 26th March - 1st May 2000
8 55 7th September 2000 - 6th January 2001
9 45 8th January - 26th April 2001
10 43 4th September - 29th December 2001
11 55 5th January - 9th April 2002
12 19 31st August - 28th December 2002
13 22 4th January - 31st May 2003
14 21 30th August - 27th December 2003
15 23 3rd January - 5th June 2004
16 16 18th September - 25th December 2004
17 25 1st January - 11th June 2005
18 11 17th September - 31st December 2005
19 27 7th January - 8th July 2006
20 13 9th September 2006 - 6th January 2007
21 17 10th March - 28th July 2007
22 11 18th August - 30th October 2007
23 19 1st January - 3rd June 2008
24 18 16th August 2008 - 31st January 2009
25 20 13th June - 20th December 2009
26 8 13th April - 8th June 2010
27 11 3rd August - 23rd December 2010
28 6 2nd April - 19th December 2011
29 11 3rd January - 20th December 2012
30 11 1st January 2013 - 11th February 2014
31 7 5th - 11th May 2018
32 11 1st January - 8th March 2019
33 11 24th August - 20th October 2019
34 10 25th December 2019 - 15th May 2020
35 7 7th September - 27th December 2020
36 13 17th January 2021 - 21st August 2021
37 ? 16th November 2021 - 2021


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.

Should there be a tie between 2 or more players with the correct order, a tiebreaker Fastest Finger question will be played between those players only. If no player gets the question right, the question is thrown out and another question is asked.

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.

Correct Answer
Walk Away
Miss Answer
Amount Lost for a
Wrong Answer
1 £100 £0 £0 £0
2 £200 £100 £100
3 £300 £200 £200
4 £500 £300 £300
5 £1,000 £500 £500
6 £2,000 £1,000 £1,000 £0
7 £4,000 £2,000 £1,000
8 £8,000 £4,000 £3,000
9 £16,000 £8,000 £7,000
10 £32,000 £16,000 £15,000
11 £64,000 £32,000 £32,000 £0
12 £125,000 £64,000 £32,000
13 £250,000 £125,000 £93,000
14 £500,000 £250,000 £218,000
15 £1,000,000 £500,000 £468,000

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

Correct Answer
Walk Away
Miss Answer
Amount Lost for a
Wrong Answer
1 £500 £0 £0 £0
2 £1,000 £500 £500
3 £2,000 £1,000 £1,000 £0
4 £5,000 £2,000 £1,000
5 £10,000 £5,000 £4,000
6 £20,000 £10,000 £9,000
7 £50,000 £20,000 £19,000
8 £75,000 £50,000 £50,000 £0
9 £150,000 £75,000 £25,000
10 £250,000 £150,000 £100,000
11 £500,000 £250,000 £200,000
12 £1,000,000 £500,000 £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).


There were 3 lifelines available to all contestants prior to the 2010 clock version, when Switch the Question was introduced. Some celebrity specials also allowed 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 to the producers in advance. The contestant has thirty seconds to read the question and four possible answers (two if 50:50 was used beforehand) to the friend, who then has the remaining time to offer input. In the thirty-fifth series, there are two Phone-a-Friend lifelines, the extra one replacing Ask the Audience due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 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. This was temporarily dropped for the thirty-fifth series due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the audience area is replaced with screens, which films usually projected onto just the floor will also be projected onto.
  • Ask the Host (2018-present): Host Jeremy Clarkson has an unlimited amount of time to offer guidance to the contestant as to what the right answer is. Clarkson hasn't seen the questions beforehand, and to prove this, Clarkson has to ask the computer to reveal the right answer, rather than him usually doing it.

Former Lifelines

  • Switch (Flip) (2002-2003, 2010–2014): Only became available when a contestant reached £50,000 in the 2010-14 format or whenever a contestant used their first lifeline in 2002 and 2003. A contestant may change their question to a different one. 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 chose to use a 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 Nation (November 30, 2002): After the player has decided to use Ask the Audience, Chris Tarrant asks the viewers at home to call one of four premium-rate phone numbers, one for each possible answer. The studio audience then votes and Chris reveals the results before the show cuts to a longer commercial break than usual to give the viewers more time to vote. After the break, Chris then reveals the viewer vote.

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.


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' and '50:50' lifelines 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 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


  • 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.

Redknapps' Big Night Out

  • In 2021, football manager Harry Redknapp appeared on the show with Jeremy Clarkson as host as part of a wind-up for their Sky 1 show Redknapps' Big Night Out. Harry appeared to answer the £300 question wrong, however his son Jamie, who was his phone-a-friend, then revealed it was all a prank. Harry appeared for real in November, his run filmed straight after the wind-up, and did little better, answering the £1,000 question wrong in the real thing.
£300 (3 of 15) - Not Timed
Former England footballer Jamie Redknapp played his first game as Liverpool captain against which club?
'Phone-a-Friend' lifeline used
• A: Chelsea • B: Sunderland
• C: Sheffield Wednesday • D: Arsenal
  • In the first episode of a 2010 BBC drama series Sherlock, the title character comments on a decision to take a safe pill or a potentially fatal one (both are identical) as a "50:50 chance" before the villain then says "You don't want to phone a friend?".
  • In the very next episode of the show, another Millionaire joke is shown when a newspaper reporting on the successful recovery of an antique hairpin worth £9,000,000 runs the headline "Who Wants to Be a Million-hair?".
  • In the 2000 BBC series My Family, Nick Harper details his plan to be rich is to win the million on the show. The family's mother, Susan, then responds with a question: "What is the most common crime committed in London? A: Assault; B: Armed robbery; C: Breaking and entering; D: Car theft" (Susan is paranoid about the idea of burglary), to which he responds "Can I phone a friend?". Michael, Nick's more geeky brother, correctly answers C.


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


  • The original idea was for the show to have twenty questions, ranging from £10 to £5,242,880. However, when a potential audience was surveyed people preferred being able to call themselves instant millionaires, and the top prize was actually heavily reduced.
    • In the pilot, the first question was worth just £1. That would then be increased to £10 before you reached £100, £500 and the £1,000 safety net. However, ITV entertainment director Claudia Rosencrantz decided this was too dull, and the £100 question became the first one and £200 and £300 questions were used instead.
      • The reason the first question was worth £1 was because Millionaire was loosely based on Tarrant's radio phone-in game Double or Quits, where the contestant would start at £1 and keep on doubling their money by answering general knowledge questions. After a contestant answered correctly, they could play on or simply walk away.
    • The development team for Millionaire originally considered a maximum structure of £25 to a possible £52,428,800.
  • In the earliest series, the show had a clear glass briefcase containing £1,000,000 in cash. In the event there was a million-pound win, Tarrant was intended to open the briefcase. It was dropped in Series 5 as when the briefcase was opened, £50 notes could have been flying everywhere, potentially giving money to the audience and not the contestant.
  • The old episodes of the show are still being repeated on the Challenge game show repeats channel and for a while ITV1 also broadcast interesting moments from the old episodes of English and foreign versions in "Classic Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" , the title still used for Challenge repeats.
    • When being repeated on Challenge and (more recently) the Sony Channel, the episodes are broadcast with a heavy amount of editing to remove advertisements, text games, "last time" segments, phone numbers to call to get on the show among other things.
      • In some early series (Series 5 onwards), all the "learning about the contestant" segments were completely cut, thus leaving just gameplay. The occasional segment was left in for unknown reasons.
      • Ad breaks were very often included in completely random locations to fit the original broadcasting of these episodes by Virgin Media when they owned Challenge. As a result, almost all of the original ad break locations are missing and were joined together with scenes of "question win" from earlier or later in the contestants' run, often with an applause track and the music that would have been used for winning the question.
      • As early series were rarely 1 hour long, this meant that one edited broadcast version could be an amalgamation of 3 episodes joined together with often sloppy editing. It is unlikely that original broadcast tapes exist to be reedited in the original format with ads removed as needed.
      • Any "viewer based" competition was generally edited out with a join made using an applause track. This only started happening towards the 2003-2012 episodes when they would be introduced.
  • 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 and Emma North were one of the other few contestants who used all three lifelines before the first safe level (but Graig won £2,000 and Emma won £0).
  • 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 A-B-C-D.
  • In 2008, a fortune teller 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