Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is a British television quiz show that offered a maximum cash prize of one million pounds for correctly answering successive multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty.

The UK version of the show was the country of origin that set the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? franchise. The first episode was aired on 4 September, 1998 and the last ever episode was broadcasted on 11 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 2018, it was announced that Jeremy Clarkson would host a revived series of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.[1][2]

Series Edit

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 - 22th 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 - 5 June 2004
16 16 18th September 2004 - 25 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 - 20 December 2009
26 8 13th April 2010 - 8th June 2010
27 11 3th August 2010 - 23th 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

Original 'Ten Night' ExperimentEdit

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 FirstEdit

10 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 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 treeEdit

This is the second and final money tree introduced in 2007 until 2014, and features 12 questions:

Correct Answer
Walk Away
Miss Answer
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 Million £500,000 £50,000 £450,000

Notice that the original had 15 questions between 1998 and 2007, and went like this:

Correct Answer
Walk Away
Miss Answer
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 Million £500,000 £32,000 £468,000

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 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 becomes available when a contestant reaches £50,000. A contestant may swap their question for a different one. This was used back in 2002 and 2003 when a contestant gets 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 avaliable during the 300th show.

Competitions Edit

Telephone Game (2003-04) Edit

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, by calling a standard-rate telephone number..

Phone charges were via BT Landline at a cost of 60p for up to one minute.

However, the telephone game ended in 2004, and the ‘Walkaway Text Game’ followed up several weeks later.

Text Game (2004-07) Edit

Walkaway Text Game (2004-06) Edit

From S16 EP7, the show featured a competition game called the ‘Walkaway Text Game’. The competition offers viewers at home to play the game where they have to answer the question, if a contestant decides to walk home with the cash prize they have got, by texting one of the four (or two if 50:50 had been chosen), possible answers within 30 seconds to a specific mobile number.

The viewers who answered the question correctly win £1,000 by having their entries selected randomly. Entries were via SMS text message at a cost of £1.

The music clip for the competition consists a series of short, distinctive chords - in which one chord is played at each second on the clock during the competition.

After 30 seconds is up, the answer will be revealed and the main portion of the game will be passed on to the next contestant who has achieved the ‘Fastest Finger First’ sequence in the correct order in the fastest time.

In-Break Text Game (2006-07) Edit

From S20 EP1 the competition stayed the same, but this time viewers had to play during a certain commercial break. This was when a contestant had given his or her final answer, but the correct one had not yet been revealed. Each round of the competition ran through the commercial break, after which the answer is revealed and the main game continued.

The viewers who answered the question correctly win £1,000 by having their entries selected randomly. The costs of each entry were the same as before.

Tonight's Viewer Question (2007-14) Edit

From S22 EP1 the show featured a competition game called "Tonight's Viewer Question". The competition offers viewers at home to play the game where they have to answer a four-choice question, similar to those in the main game - either via SMS to a premium-rate text number, or BT Landline via a standard-rate telephone number. The competition ran through the entire programme, after which the answer is revealed and the programme ended.

The viewers who answered the question correctly win £1,000 by having their entries selected randomly. Entries cost a maximum flat rate of £1.

From S27 EP1 the competiton stayed the same, but this time viewers had to play by answering a three-choice question instead of a four-choice one, as mentioned before.

Parodies Edit

The IT Crowd Edit

  • 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: Barto • B: Shoper
• 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 Edit

  • In an episode of the show with Jonathan Ross as host and Chris Tarrant as contestant parody was shown.
£6 - 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%

Kelly Edit

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 14th question wrong.


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


  • The old issues of the game are still being repeated on the "Challenge" channel, and for a while ITV1 also broadcast interesting moments from the old issues of English and foreign versions in the program "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" Classic.
  • The oldest participant is 75 years old (Bernard Marco, November 11, 1999), and the youngest is 18 (Michelle McGeachy, March 5, 1999). The average age of the participant is 41 years. The most frequently played participants were named John, the participants - with the name Ann.
  • The average result in the qualifying round is 6.41 seconds.
  • The total winnings are almost £60,000,000. The average total winnings for the release are £114,238, the average winner is £50,200, the average male player win is £49,600, the average winnings of the female player is £48,500.
  • The biggest winning reached in the game without a lifeline used is £125,000 (Martin Skillings, Ben Bartle, Gerry Lennon, Diane Hallagan, Rob Mitchell, and James Plaskett).
  • The biggest loss in the game is £218,000 (Duncan Bickley and Rob Mitchell).
  • The biggest loss of the famous pair is £468,000 (Laurence and Jackie Llewellyn Bowen). After that, the host again called them into the studio, where they heard the last question for the second time and eventually took £500,000. The most money ever officially lost by a pair was £93,000 (Robert Brydges and Judith Chalbers and Russell Grant and Sheila Ferguson).
  • The total duration of the program is 10 days 8 hours 30 minutes (September 4, 1998 - February 11, 2014), if you watch it continuously.
  • The show was also appeared by contestants with the same names and surnames: 1st Martin Smith on March 6, 1999 and 2nd Martin Smith on March 13, 1999; 1st Chris Elliot and 2nd Chris Elliott (Series 21)
  • The most "expensive" season was the season of 2000, where £7,782,000 was won.
  • The total number of players in the history of the game is 1,840 people (in the hotseat - 402).
  • The smallest prize the player has taken is only £500 (Cheryl Turner and originally Sheridan Booth).
  • The fastest player in the qualifying round was Jonathan Pash (aired on April 15, 2008), who managed to press the keys in just 0.97 seconds.
  • Charles Ingram is infamous as being the only player 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 £1 million.
  • The most widely watched release in the 20th century was the release on March 7, 1999, which was watched by 19 210 000 people (2nd place in the ITV weekly rating), and in the 21st century - release on January 19, 2000 (15.880.000 spectators, 4th place in ITV rating).
  • November 30, 2002 was shown the 300th anniversary issue live. While the players were helping the Hall's help, 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.
  • In the editions of September 27, 2003 and February 25, 2006, there were two cases in the history of the game, when after taking the participant's Ask the Audience lifeline, 100% of the audience voted for one answer.
  • On March 31, 2007 episode only the right order was ABCD.
  • In 2008, a fortuneteller predicted that Richard Ronaldson (appeared on November 18 and December 2, 2008) at the age of 35 would become the sixth Million Pound winner, but her prophecy did not come true. He won £10,000.
  • In the July 18, 2009 issue, there was an unusual case: Gill O'Donnell took advantage of the Ask the Audience after 50:50, but 81% of the audience answered incorrectly, and the participant lost.
  • December 23, 2010 was shown the Christmas edition of the game. The game was live and the audience had the opportunity to win up to £500,000, answering the question correctly by phone (release review).
  • From December 6, 2011 to 2014 on the channel "Questions and Answers" were issues of 2007-2010 with the Russian translation, including the entire 13 season (with a timer).
  • On July 10, 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 November 9, 2012 on Joe Pasquale & Phil Tufnell's £10,000 question.
      • But, ironically, it happened on both their £10,000 questions.
  • On October 1, 2000 the 100th issue was aired, October 11, 2001 - the 200th edition, on November 30, 2002 - the 300th edition, on March 19, 2005 - the 400th issue and on March 18, 2008 - the 500th edition.

References Edit


External linksEdit