Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is a television game show which offers very large cash prizes for correctly answering successive multiple-choice questions. The maximum cash prize (in the original United Kingdom version) is one million pounds.
When it first aired in the UK in September of 1998, it was a surprising twist on the genre. Only one contestant plays at a time (similar to some radio quizzes); and the emphasis is on suspense rather than speed. There is no time limit to answer questions, and contestants are given the question before they must decide whether to attempt an answer.
Ironically, given the large prizes that it offers, the show is named after a 1956 Cole Porter song which emphasized the desirability of love over material possessions: Who wants to be a millionaire? I don't. (...) And I don't 'cause all I want is you.
The programme originated in the United Kingdom, where it is hosted by Chris Tarrant and was based on a format devised by David Briggs, who along with Steve Knight and Mike Whitehill devised a number of the promotional games for Chris Tarrant's breakfast show on Capital FM radio. The following description is of the British version of the show. For differences in other countries, see the end of the article.
Original British format
At the beginning of each show, the host introduces a set of ten potential contestants, giving their names and where they are from. The potential contestants have to undergo a preliminary round, called "Fastest Finger First", where they are all asked to put four answers in a particular order. (In the very first series of the British version, "Fastest Finger First" required the contestants to answer one multiple choice question correctly as quickly as possible) The contestant who does this correctly and in the fastest time goes on to sit in the chair and play for a possible £1,000,000.
The contestant is asked increasingly difficult general knowledge questions by the host. To each question, they can choose from four multiple choice answers. Answering the first question correctly wins the contestant a small monetary prize, and the subsequent questions are played for increasingly large sums. If the contestant answers incorrectly they lose all the money they have won. However, the £1,000 and £32,000 prizes are guaranteed: if a player gets a question wrong above these levels then they drop down only to the previous guaranteed prize.
The sequence of prizes is as follows: £100, £200, £300, £500, £1,000, £2,000, £4,000, £8,000, £16,000, £32,000, £64,000, £125,000, £250,000, £500,000, £1,000,000.
The game ends after the contestant answers a question incorrectly or decides not to answer the question, or when they have answered all fifteen questions correctly, at which point they win the top prize of £1,000,000.
If at any point the contestant is unsure of the answer to a question, they can use one of their three "lifelines": they can "phone a friend" (being given 30 seconds to talk to their chosen friend, who must be taken from a list nominated by the contestant beforehand), "ask the audience" (getting a bar chart of the audience's answers), or go for a "50:50" (when the computer will remove two incorrect answers and leave the right answer and one wrong answer). Each of these lifelines can be used only once.
Variants on the format have been tried, such as celebrities playing for charity and couples games (where both partners must agree on the answer). Tarrant's catchphrases on the show include "Is that your final answer?" and "but we don't want to give you that".
The Major Charles Ingram affair
In an episode of the British show recorded on September 10 2001, Major Charles Ingram won the £1,000,000 prize. During the recording it was noticed that a suspicious pattern of coughing could be heard. The Major's unusual behaviour in the "hot seat" also drew attention. When subsequently analysed it became apparent that another contestant, Tecwen Whittock, seated in "contestant row" was offering Major Ingram prompts in the form of coughs, indicating the correct answers. On many of the questions Major Ingram read aloud all of the four answers, until a cough was heard, before choosing his answer. In some cases he even dismissed an answer, read aloud the answers again, and picked an answer he had earlier dismissed.
Further investigation revealed that the Major's wife Diana (who had won £32,000 on a previous show, as had his brother-in-law) had organised the scam. A number of pagers had been purchased and telephone records revealed what appeared to be a practice session for another plan to cheat the system that was not subsequently carried out. The plan was for the Major to hide four pagers on his body that would vibrate when an accomplice called the pager indicating the correct answer. Following a trial at Southwark Crown Court lasting a month, Major Ingram, his wife Diana and Tecwen Whittock were convicted of "procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception" on 7 April 2003. Ingram and his wife were each given suspended 18-month prison sentences and fined £15,000, while Whittock received a 12-month suspended sentence and was fined £10,000. Together with legal costs, it is estimated that the Ingrams will have to pay £50,000 in total.
Despite the conviction, the Ingrams and Tecwen Whittock continue to deny that they colluded or acted dishonestly. They plan to appeal the court ruling. In an ITV1 documentary entitled "Millionaire: a Major Fraud" and presented by Martin Bashir, broadcast in Britain on 21 April(Coincidentally, or perhaps intentioally, the first advert in the first commercial break in the documentary, was one for cough medicine), 2003 excerpts from the recording were broadcast with enhanced audio highlighting the coughs emanating from Tecwen Whittock. Immediately afterwards the full programme in its original format was broadcast on ITV2. The documentary included additional video recorded during the programme of Mrs Ingram sitting in the audience and apparently prompting the Major with her own coughing and making glances in the direction of Mr Whittock. The documentary also contained interviews with production staff and other contestants present at the recording of the original programme describing how they felt that something unusual had been happening. Major Ingram described the documentary as "one of the greatest TV editing con tricks in history". Celador Films, the sister company of the quiz show's producers Celador Productions, announced in September 2003 that they were planning to turn the affair into a film, and commissioned a screenplay from award-winning television dramatist Russell T. Davies. The status of this project as of April 2005 is, however, currently unclear.
For an argument by James Plaskett in favour of the innocence of Ingram, his wife and Whittock, see this item. Plaskett´s essay led to journalist Bob Woffinden, who had a long time interest in miscarriages of justice, publishing a two page article in the 9 October 2004 edition of the British newspaper the Daily Mail entitled Is The Coughing Major Innocent?
Although it originated in the United Kingdom, the format of show has subsequently been exported to many countries around the world. As of early 2003 the producers' website lists the following territories as having licensed the show: Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, the Caribbean, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Middle East, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland. Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the Philippines, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, United States, Vatican City, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
Here are some details of the differences in some of those countries:-
- Argentina: In Argentina the show was called Quién quiere ser Millonario? and was hosted by Julián Weich, a locally famous game show host. It was broadcast in Canal 13 between May and December 2001 and the biggest prize was 1.000.000 pesos, which in that time equalled 1.000.000 U.S. Dollars.
- Australia: The local version is hosted by Eddie McGuire. It is virtually identical in format to the British original. Several big wins (though not the actual million dollars) to "professional" game show contestants who spent thousands of dollars ringing the competition line to get on the show has led to a changing of the rules regarding appearances - only one phone call per person per week is now permitted.
- Austria: In Austria the show is called Die Millionenshow (The millions show). The Austrian state TV (ORF) uses the same Cologne (Köln) studio as the Germans, which may cause problems for contestants who would like to "ask the audience" if the question happens to be about Austrian trivia. The current host, Armin Assinger , used to be a skier with the Austrian national team. Assinger has been criticized by some for his broad Carinthian accent. Here, the top prize is 1.000.000 EUR (earlier, it was 10.000.000 Austrian Schillings, and this the show was called Die Zehn Millionen Show (The ten millions show)).
- Belgium: There are two versions of the show, aired in Belgium. One is the French version, called Qui sera millionaire (Who will be a millionaire?), and the second one is the Flemish version, called Wie wordt multimiljonair? (Who will be a multi-millionaire). All that is known of both versions, is, that the French version should be aired by a private TV station RTL 1. The prizes were in Belgian Francs, now supposedly in Euros.
- Bulgaria: In Bulgaria, the show is called Koi iska da stane bogat (Who wants to be rich), also known as Stani bogat (Become rich/Get rich). Niki Kanchev is the host of the show, and it is aired by the national commercial TV station Nova TV. The prizes are in levs (BGN): 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, 5000, 10 000, 25 000, 50 000, 100 000.
- Canada: Canada's CTV network rebroadcasted the United States version for most of its run, but in September 2000 it aired two specials entitled Who Wants to Be A Millionaire: Canadian Edition. Hosted by Pamela Wallin, the shows were taped on the ABC set in New York. A Canadian audience was flown to the city for the shows, so the contestants could "ask the audience" for help on the Canadian-themed questions. Following the airing of the two specials, CTV did announce that additional episodes of the Canadian Edition would be produced, but they never came to fruition.
- Chile: In Chile, the program was called "Quién quiere ser millonario" (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in Spanish). It was on air in Canal 13, and was hosted for Mario Kreutzberger (also known as Don Francisco). Prizes are in Chilean pesos: $50.000, $100.000, $150.000, $200.000, $250.000, $500.000, $750.000, $1.000.000, $2.000.000, $4.000.000, ...,$50.000.000,$75.000.000, $100.000.000. The program also was a second season, with Sergio Lagos as host. Nobody could win the biggest prize.
- Colombia: The colombian version of the game is called "Quién quiere ser millonario" (Who wants to be a millionaire? in Spanish), and its producers claim it to be the most popular TV contest in Colombia. It is presented on Canal Caracol (A powerful private colombian TV station) on saturdays and hosted by its president, Paulo Laserna Phillips . The maximum price in colombian pesos is $210.000.000 (About $85.000 US Dollars). The computer version of the colombian game is also merchandised and there are many other means to play the game, such as using your mobile phone to answer a few questions and earn small prizes or to become eligible to compete in the TV show.
- Croatia: Here the show is called Tko želi biti milijunaš? (Who wants to be a millionaire?). It is hosted by Tarik Filipović and aired by the State TV station HRT 1. Here, the prizes are in Croatian kunas, in the usual denominations (a million kunas being around 133,333 euros). The specialty of this version is, that there are commercial breaks during the show, except for that each commercial break is actually one commercial (as mandated by public television law), thus making the whole episode run time only 1 hour, instead of 1 hour and 45 minutes, as it is in Slovenia.
- Cyprus: In Cyprus, the show is called Poios thelei na ginei ekatommyriouchos (Who wants to be a millionaire?). The prize was 50.000.000 drachmas (about 147.000 euros) and now its 150.000 euros. For five years its aired by RIK2, the second tv channel of the Radio Istitution of Cyprus (Radiophoniko Idryma Kyprou -RIK). The production is made in Greece. There has been one winner having taken 150.000 euros.
- Czech Republic: Here the show is called Chcete Být Milionářem? (Do you want to be a millionaire?). Prizes are in Czech korunas (CZK): 1,000 Kč., 2,000 Kč., 3,000 Kč., 5,000 Kč., 10,000 Kč., 20,000 Kč., 40,000 Kč., 80,000 Kč., 160,000 Kč., 320,000 Kč., 640,000 Kč., 1,250,000 Kč., 2,500,000 Kč., 5,000,000 Kč., 10,000,000 Kč.. Aired on the Czech private television "Nova".
- Denmark: The show is aired on TV2, and the host is TV-star Peter Kær. The show is called "Hvem vil være millionær" ("Who wants to be a millionaire"), and the top prize is 1.000.000 Kroner (approximately 130,000 euro), which has been won twice.
- Egypt: The show is aired on the station ART (Arab Radio-Television), and re-broadcasted by the Egyptia statal TV, 1TV.
- Estonia: The show is called "Kes tahab saada miljonäriks?" ("Who wants to be a millionaire?"). The highest prize is 1.000.000 kroons, which is about 64.000 euro. The host of the show is Hannes Võrno. The show is aired by the commercial TV station TV3.
- Finland: The show is called "Haluatko miljonääriksi?" (in English "Do you want to become a millionaire?"). The name of the host is Lasse Lehtinen. The program was started when Finland was still using mark as currency, and then the highest prize was 1.000.000 marks. Today it is 200.000 euro which is about 1.200.000 marks.
- France: Here the show is called Qui veut gagner des millions? (Who wants to win millions?). It is hosted by Jean-Pierre Foucault and aired by the commercial TV station TF1.
- Georgia: In Georgia, the show is called Vis Unda Octi Atasi. It is aired on Rustavi 2. The prizes are in the Georgian money unit, in the usual denominations.
- Germany: The show, called Wer wird Millionär? (Who will become a millionaire?), is aired by the commercial TV station RTL and presented by Günther Jauch. It is produced in Cologne. After introduction of the euro, the prize sequence was changed to start at €50 while the 250,000 step was dropped, thus there is a quadrupling from the 13th (€125,000) to 14th, second-last step (€500,000). See also: Claudia Drexelius. There were only 5 millionaires in the German version: Eckard Freise, Marlene Grabherr, and other three. Link to the German version: here
- Greece: In Greece, the show is called Poios thelei na ginei ekatommyriouchos (Who wants to be a millionaire?). The prize was originally 50.000.000 drachmas (about 147.000 euros), and currently is 150.000 euros. The first three years it was aired by the commercial TV station MEGA CHANNEL and now, the last two years, its aired by New Hellenic Television, NET, (Nea Elliniki Tileorasi), one of Greek Public Television (ERT) Channels. There has been one winner having taken 150.000 euros.
- Hong Kong: A version was shown on April 29, 2001, and was popular enough to be shown again on July 22, 2001. The highest prize is a million HK dollars.
- Hungary: Here, the show is called Legyen Ön is milliomos! and presented by István Vágó. It's aired on RTL Klub , a Hungarian commercial TV station. The prizes are in Hungarian Forints , the top prize is 40.000.000 Ft. (Earlier, it was 25.000.000 Ft.)
- Iceland: In Iceland, the show is called Viltu vinna milljón?. The prizes are in Icelandic Crowns, the top prize is 10.000.000 ISK.
- India: In India, the show is called Kaun Banega Crorepati, which literally means "Who will become a multi-millionaire?" (1 Crore = 10 million in Indian numerals). It is produced by Star TV and is hosted by Indian movie superstar Amitabh Bachchan. It is considered to be one of the most successful shows on Indian TV and is watched around the world by Indian diaspora as well as by people from Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, Mauritius, Fiji, East Africa, etc. After the first episode had been broadcast, Star TV received 20 million phone calls from fans across the world.
- Indonesia: The name of the show is not changed, and aired once a week by RCTI. The show is hosted by Tantowi Yahya. The maximum prize is one billion Rupiah. Note: the word "million" is "juta" in Indonesian, while the word "billion" is "milyar".
- Ireland, Republic of: Originally, the top prize was one million Irish Pounds (1.27 million euro). However, with the change of currency at the start of 2002, it was reduced to 1 million euro. It was presented by Gay Byrne on Radio Telefís Éireann, and ran until mid-2002, when the sponsoring mobile phone company withdrew. Without a sponsor, the show was deemed unviable - and the expensive set put into storage. The highest winner was Roger Dowds, who in 2001 won £250,000. (before Ireland adopted the euro as it's currency) Most Irish "Millionaire" merchandise was released in 2001, including a quiz book, board game and computer game.
- Israel: In Israel, the show is called Mi rotseh lehyot mylyoner, but it's often referred to as "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" or just "Millionaire". It is aired on Channel 2 Israel. The prizes are in New Shekhels, in the usual denominations.
- Italy: in Italy the show is called "Chi vuol essere milionario" (an exact translation of the English one). It is hosted by Gerry Scotti . Rules are virtually identical to the original format. The show is aired on Canale 5, a commercial TV station of Mediaset network.
- Japan: Produced by Fuji TV, this version of the show is commonly known simply as Millionaire, not overly distorted by Japanese phonetics, although its real, Japanese title is Kuizu $ Mirionea. It is hosted by Mino Monta(Norio Minorikawa). The rules are the same as the original. Prize levels are denominated in Yen as follows: ¥10,000, ¥20,000, ¥30,000, ¥50,000, ¥100,000, ¥150,000, ¥250,000, ¥500,000, ¥750,000, ¥1,000,000, ¥1,500,000, ¥2,500,000, ¥5,000,000, ¥7,500,000, ¥10,000,000.
- Kerala: In the state of Kerala in India, another version of the show is called Koteeswaran or Kodeeswaran which in Malayalam means multi-millionaire. It is produced by Surya TV and hosted by Malayalam film actor Mukesh.
- Latvia: show is filmed in the same studio as the Lithuanian one (in Lithuania), and winnings in it, as in Latvian lotteries in general, are very low. The largest prize is only 20,000 Latvian Lats (one Lat is worth about the same as a British pound is). It is still called "Gribi būt miljonārs?" ("Do you want to be a millionaire?") because 20,000 Lats is 2 millions of Santims, a Latvian equivalent of cent. The Prizes are: 10 Ls, 20 Ls, 30 Ls, 40 Ls, 50 Ls, 60 Ls, 80 Ls, 125 Ls, 250 Ls, 500 Ls, 1,250 Ls, 2,500 Ls, 5,000 Ls, 10,000 Ls, 20,000 Ls. The show is hosted by Mārtiņš Ķibilds , a Latvian journalist and is aired by the commercial TV station TV3.
- Lithuania: the show is called "Kas laimės milijoną?" ("Who will win the million?"), hosted by famous Lithuanian singer and host of other shows (such as "Robinsons" and "Survivor") Vytautas Kernagis , formerly hosted by journalist Henrikas Vaitiekūnas . Winnings are the same as in original game, however, Litas is worth 0.29 Euros, 0.2 British Pounds and 0.4 US Dollars thus the actual winnings are lower. Show is filmed in Lithuania and aired by the commercial TV station TV3.
- Malaysia: Hosted by Jalalludin Hassan on the television network NTV7. The top prize is one million Malaysian ringgit.
- The Middle East: The show is called Man sa yarbah al-malyoon or Who will win the million, though it is frequently referred to in English by its more traditional name, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. The show is hosted by George Kurdahi . It is filmed and produced in London. The prizes are in Saudi Arabian riyals, in the usual denominations.
- The Netherlands: Here the game is called Weekend Miljonairs (Weekend millionaires), but also Lotto Weekend Miljonairs (Lotto of the weekend millionaires; this is an unofficial name, better a nickname), and is hosted by Robert ten Brink . The show is aired by the private television, SBS 6.
- New Zealand: the show is the same as that broadcast in Australia, but New Zealand residents are allowed to enter, as Prime TV is owned by Australia's Nine Network.
- Norway: The show is aired on TV2, and the host is Frithjof Wilborn. Arve Juritzen is the previous host. The show is called "Vil du bli millionær" ("Do you want to be a millionaire?"), and the top prize is 2.000.000 Kroner.
- The Philippines: Hosted by Christopher De Leon on the Intercontinental Broadcating Corporation (IBC) , the top prize was at first one million pesos before it was raised to two million. The show is now off-the-air.
- Poland: here the show is called Milionerzy (Millionaires) and is aired on the TVN TV station. The host of the show is Hubert Urbański.
- Portugal: the show is called Quem quer ser milionário? and is aired in RTP1 network. It is currently hosted by Jorge Gabriel. Carlos Cruz, Maria Elisa and Diogo Infante were all previous hosts. The prizes were, in the eraly seasons, in escudos, with the ultimate prize being 50 million escudos. Now it is in euros, the biggest prize being 250 thousand euros.
- Romania: the show is called Vrei să fii miliardar? (Do you want to be a billionaire?), produced by Prima TV and hosted by Virgil Ianţu.
- Russia: In Russia, the show is called Кто хочет стать миллионером? (Kto hochet stat' millionerom?) (Who wants to be a Millionaire?), it's hosted by Maksim Galkin, and it's aired on Channel 1. Earlier, it was called О, счастливчик! (O, Schastlivchik) (O, Lucky man), it was hosted by Dimitry Dibrov, and it was aired by NTV. Here, the 'Ask the Audience' lifeline isn't one that the contestant would often use because the audience often gives wrong answers intentionally to trick the contestants. The biggest prize here is 1,000,000 Russian Rubles.
- Serbia and Montenegro: Here the show is called Želite li da postanete milioner? (Do you want to become a millionaire?). It's aired by a private satellite TV station BKTV SAT. The highest prize here is 3.000.000 din. Prizes are in dinars (din): 300 din, 600 din, 900 din, 1,500 din, 3,000 din, 6,000 din, 12,000 din, 24,000 din, 48,000 din, 96,000 din, 192,000 din, 375,000 din, 750,000 din, 1,500,000 din, 3,000,000 din. The show here is hosted by Ivan Zeljković.
- Singapore: Two different versions are produced in Singapore, an English language version and a Chinese language version. The Chinese version is called 百万大赢家 (Million-dollar winner/Bai wan da jing yia). Both are produced by local media network MediaCorp.
- Slovakia: Here the show is called Milionár (Millionaire). Prizes are in Slovak korunas (SKK): 1,000 Ks., 2,000 Ks., 3,000 Ks., 5,000 Ks., 10,000 Ks., 20,000 Ks., 40,000 Ks., 80,000 Ks., 160,000 Ks., 320,000 Ks., 640,000 Ks., 1,250,000 Ks., 2,500,000 Ks., 5,000,000 Ks., 10,000,000 Ks.. Aired on a private TV station, TV Markiza.
- Slovenia: Here the show is called Lepo je biti milijonar (It is good to be a Millionaire). Now the highest prize has changed from the old 10,000,000 SIT to the new 15,000,000 SIT (as have all the prizes after the 1,000,000 SIT). It is broadcasted by the commercial TV station POP TV and hosted by Boštjan Romih. Prizes are in tolars (SIT): 10,000 SIT, 20,000 SIT, 30,000 SIT, 40,000 SIT, 50,000 SIT, 100,000 SIT, 175,000 SIT, 250,000 SIT, 500,000 SIT, 1,000,000 SIT, 1,500,000 SIT, 2,500,000 SIT, 5,000,000 SIT, 7,500,000 SIT, 15,000,000 SIT.
- South Africa: The show was broadcast on the M-Net channel, hosted by Jeremy Maggs . Interestingly, the 'M' of the word 'Millionaire' in the logo was the 'M' logo of M-Net.
- Spain: Here the show is called ¿Quién quiere ser millonario? (Who wants to be a millionaire?) and also 50*15 (pronounced Cincuenta por quince) because you could win 50 million pesetas (about £200,000) if you got 15 questions right. It was hosted by Carlos Sobera and broadcasted by Telecinco. These were the prizes in pesetas (ESP): 25,000 ESP, 50,000 ESP, 75,000 ESP, 150,000 ESP, 300,000 ESP, 350,000 ESP, 450,000 ESP, 600,000 ESP, 750,000 ESP, 1,500,000 ESP, 3,000,000 ESP, 6,000,000 ESP, 12,000,000 ESP, 24,000,000 ESP, 50,000,000 ESP. Here, the Quiz is not aired anymore.
- Sweden: Here the show is called Vem vill bli miljonär? (Who wants to be a millionaire?) It was hosted by Bengt Magnusson and broadcasted by TV4. The highest prize was 10 000 000 SEK. TV4 stopped broadcasting the show because they couldn't afford the prizes.
- Taiwan: Here the show is called Wai Beng Fu Yung?, and it's aired and watched in both Taiwan and China.
- Thailand: Here, the show is called Setha Haiban (Game Setha). It's aired on Thai TV Channel 8. The prizes are in Bahts, in the usual denominations. Although not an official version under the original British standards, many fans called it as so.
- Turkey: Here the show is called Kim 500 (besyuz) milyar ister? (Who wants 500 billions?). It was first broadcasted by the commercial TV station Show TV, but later switched to Kanal D. The show is hosted by Kenan Işık. The prizes in Turkish Liras are: 50,000,000 TL, 100,000,000 TL, 250,000,000 TL, 500,000,000 TL, 1,000,000,000 TL, 2,000,000,000 TL, 4,000,000,000 TL, 8,000,000,000 TL, 16,000,000,000 TL, 32,000,000,000 TL, 64,000,000,000 TL, 125,000,000,000 TL, 250,000,000,000 TL, 500,000,000,000 TL. Prizes will be adjusted after the introduction of the New Turkish Lira (YTL) on 1 January 2005 (1,000,000 TL = 1 YTL).
- Ukraine: In Ukraine, the show is called Hto hoche staty mil'jonerom? - Pershyj mil'jon (Who wants to be a Millionaire? - The first million). Here, as in Russia, the 'Ask the Audience' lifeline isn't one that the contestant would often use because the audience often gives wrong answers intentionally to trick the contestants. Here, the top prize is 1.000.000 (the contestant randomly chooses a money unit).
- United States of America: Here the syndicated show is hosted by Meredith Vieira. The syndicated version does not include the Fastest Finger competition; contestants are just brought out individually. Also, instead of the telephone competitions of ABC's versions, there are simple contestant auditions for the syndicated version, as in other game shows. Previously, the network version of the show was hosted by Regis Philbin. Both versions omit the question mark from their official titles due to a superstition about question marks in film and TV productions. The network version became explosively popular in 1999, and at its peak was airing in prime time four nights a week on ABC. The show was popular enough to find rival networks creating or reincarnating game shows of their own, and created a brief renaissance of sorts for United States based game shows. ABC's using Who Wants to be a Millionaire in so many prime time slots left it with a deficit of unique programming when the show's popularity faded. ABC's overall Nielsen ratings suffered as a result of the show's decline in popularity. In February 2004, Regis Philbin returned for five episodes of Super Millionaire, which offered a $10,000,000 top prize; the series returned for eight additional episodes in May.
One of the reasons that Who Wants to be a Millionaire lost popularity in the United States was linked to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After a hiatus that lasted several weeks following the attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon, ABC began airing only Celebrity Editions of the show, most likely in a bid to give America something "light" after the horror of 9/11. The Celebrity Editions featured various celebrities playing the show for charity. The problem was that in this version the audience was allowed to yell out the answers to each question up to and including the $32,000 level. The suspense of the show was eliminated with all contestants virtually guaranteed to walk away with at least $32,000, and it disappeared from ABC by December 2001.
The $10,000,000 prize offered by Super Millionaire is the largest prize on offer around the world, although unlike in the original programme the top prize is not paid in one lump sum but paid over 20 years. Because of the relative value of the British pound compared to other currencies, the British show offers the second largest prize money. In Germany there was a version where contestants could win 10 million Deutschmarks. After the introduction of the Euro, RTL made the prize €5 million (DM 9.75 million).
Two new lifelines were added in Super Millonaire: Three Wise Men and Double Dip. However, those could only be used those after a contestant reached the $100,000 mark. Three Wise Men consisted of the contestant asking a panel of experts a question. The panel would then have 30 seconds to come up with the answer. The panel was kept in darkness until the player made it up to $100,000 (If no player had made it up to that level within the hour show, the Three Wise Men would be revealed to the audience to see who they were). The Double Dip lifeline was a chance to guess at a question twice. Once a player chose to Double Dip, they could not back out of answering the question.
A version of this game named "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It!" is an attraction at the Disney-MGM Studios theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and at Disney's California Adventure theme park at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The game is very similar to the television version. On each question, the audience, using a keypad attached to the back of the seat in front, chooses A, B,C, or D. When a contestant chooses to stop playing, the next contestant is picked from the audience member who answered the most questions correctly and most quickly. This version is not played for cash. For every question answered correctly, the contestant receives a pin, and after reaching the "safe havens", a baseball cap and T-shirt. The top prize is a vacation, which is frequently changed.
In the 2004-2005 season of the programme, the format of the game will change. (Note that some of these changes only apply to certain versions) The 32,000 lock-in has been decreased to 25,000, as well as a new prize pattern of 50,000; 100,000 and then 250,000. This has been done to encourage contestants not to stop prematurely, which will hopefully increase the amount that contestants receive. Also, after reaching the 25,000 level, contestants are given a new lifeline, "Switch the Question" (also known as a Flip), something that first appeared in the show's 300th episode (in the UK that is), the idea however seemed to have been taken from The People Versus , also produced by Celador (again, in the UK). It allows them to dismiss the current question and to play a new one. However, they will not have any lifelines used on the discarded question returned to them. Finally, the "Ask the Audience" lifeline has been expanded. Instead of just the studio audience giving answers, users of the AOL Instant Messenger (sometimes referred to as IM) can participate too. If they have the name "MillionaireIM" in their buddy list , then they will receive an instant message if a contestant uses his or her "Ask the Audience" lifeline. The message will contain the question, and four possible answers, and they will send their answer back. This is the first time in history that the public has been able to interact with a game show while it is being taped. When the tape is shown, the results of the poll will first show the studio audience's response, then the IM users' response. This has been done as an effort to get everyone more involved with the program, and to interest the producers in the show once again.
Here is the list of the winners of the jackpot prize for each version of the show:
United States (Primetime and Syndicated versions):
- John Carpenter (First winner of the top prize.)
- Dan Blonsky
- Joe Trela
- Bob House
- Kim Hunt
- David Goodman
- Kevin Olmstead ($2.18 Million)
- Bernie Cullen
- Ed Toutant ($1.86 Million)
- Kevin Smith (First winner of the syndicated version.)
- Nancy Christy (First woman to win the million dollars in the U.S. version.)
United Kingdom (Including Charles Ingram, and in chronological order)
- Judith Keppel
- David Edwards
- Charles Ingram
- Robert Brydges
- Pat Gibson
For the U.S. version, note that Super Millionaire contestant Robert Essig is not included. This is because even though he won a total of $1,000,000, he did not win the top prize of $10,000,000.
- The UK show's official website
- The ABC version of the show
- American syndicated version
- The Australian version of the show
- Japanese website by Fuji TV
- The official on-air rules
- UKgameshow.com's website on the show
- Major Charles Ingram affair in detail
- Lyrics of original Cole Porter song
- George Kurdahi's official home page
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details