Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (UK game show)
|Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?|
Title card (2010)
|Created by||David Briggs
|Presented by||Chris Tarrant|
|Theme music composer||Keith Strachan
Ramon Covalo (2007–14)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||30|
|No. of episodes||592 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||30–75 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Celador (1998–2007)
Victory Television (2011–14)
|Original channel||ITV, STV, UTV|
|Picture format||4:3 (1998–99)
|Original run||4 September 1998– 11 February 2014|
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was 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. One contestant played at a time and originally had no time limit to answer questions. Contestants were presented with the question and possible answers before they decided whether to attempt an answer or walk away with what they have already won.
The show first aired on 4 September 1998 and aired its final episode on 11 February 2014. It was presented by Chris Tarrant and produced by Victory Television for the ITV network. It was based on a format devised by David Briggs, who, along with Steven Knight and Mike Whitehill, devised a number of the promotional games for Chris Tarrant's breakfast show on Capital FM radio. The original working title for the show was Cash Mountain.
The show has been exported to many other countries, all of which follow the same general format. Rights to both the format and all UK episodes of the show were put up for sale by Celador in March 2006, as the first step toward the sale of Celador's formats division. These were acquired by the Dutch company 2waytraffic. 2waytraffic was in turn acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2008.
On 22 October 2013, it was announced that Tarrant had decided to quit the show after 15 years. Due to this, ITV decided to cancel Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? after the contract finished, stating that there would not be any further specials beyond the ones that had already been planned. Tarrant's final live celebrity edition aired on 19 December 2013. On the day before (18 December), Tarrant pre-recorded two other celebrity episodes to be shown in early 2014. The final episode, a clip show entitled "Chris' Final Answer", aired on 11 February 2014.
- 1 Broadcast details
- 2 Gameplay
- 3 Text game (2004–2007)
- 4 Top prize winners
- 5 Celebrities
- 6 Controversies
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Originally broadcast on successive evenings for around ten days, it later appears weekly on ITV in a primetime slot on Saturday evenings, and also occasionally on Tuesday evening. The shows lasted for one hour (including commercial breaks). The first contestant was Graham Elwell, who won £64,000.
At its peak in 1999, the show pulled in up to 19 million viewers (an astonishing one in three of the British population), often when it only had a half-hour timeslot, before declining to around 8 million by 2003.
Tarrant's catchphrases on the show include "Is that your final answer?", "But we don't want to give you that" (meaning that he would like the contestant to go on and win even more money), more recently at the end of the show, "But the cashpoint is now closed for tonight" or when a contestant is relieved, he sometimes says "Quite pleased, then?"
Variants on the format were screened from time to time as specials – such as celebrities playing for charity, couples games (where both partners must agree on the answer), Mother's Day specials, etc.
Since April 2011, only celebrity contestants appeared on the show, in special live editions that coincided with holidays such as Christmas, Mother's Day, Remembrance Day, with the end of a school term, etc. The 'Clock Format' is still used during live celebrity shows. However, during Series 29 in 2012, there were three The People Play specials that were broadcast live for three consecutive nights between 9 and 11 July. These specials featured non-celebrity contestants and allowed viewers to play along at home. A fourth The People Play special aired on 7 May 2013 with a further two broadcast the following Tuesday nights with the last ever People's Play episode for the contestants on 21 May 2013.
|Question number||Question value|
Members of the public applied to appear on the show by calling a premium-rate telephone number or sending a premium-rate text message. Applications could also be made at the ITV website via a system of £1 "credits", as well as through a contestant casting audition. Such auditions are held around the UK at various locations. Contestants were chosen from the large number of applicants through a combination of random selection and ability to answer test general knowledge questions.
Contestants answered a list of 12 increasingly difficult questions to win the top prize of £1 million. Contestants could choose to leave the game at any point and claim the prize for the last correctly answered question without penalty. Answering the second question correctly guarantees that a contestant will leave with no less than £1,000 if they provide an incorrect answer to a later question, and answering the seventh question correctly increases the minimum payout to £50,000. A contestant who answers either the first or second question incorrectly leaves with nothing.
On the final part of each programme whilst a game is in progress, the "Out of time" signal (which usually consists of one long blast of a chord played from brass instruments) is sounded, which Chris refers to as the 'klaxon'. Most recently in the live specials, Chris tells the viewers on the final part that the klaxon could sound to end the game and the question will be null and void (the question won't count). If however a future live special is scheduled, then the contestant will return on the next programme.
Three lifelines were presented at the beginning of the game in order to aid contestants:
- Ask the Audience: Audience members use touch pads to designate what they believe the correct answer to be. The percentage of the audience choosing each specific option is displayed to the contestant.
- 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 5 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.
- Switch (2002-2003, 2010–2014): The computer replaces, at the contestant's request, one question with another of the same monetary value. Any lifelines used on the original question are not reinstated. This was used back in 2002 when a contestant gets rid of a lifeline and the 'Q' symbol will appear on the selected lifeline, therefore, the selected lifeline can't be used again.
Prior to 2007, ten contestants competed against each other on each episode in the "Fastest Finger First" round in order to determine which contestant would play the main portion of the game. Originally, players were to answer a four-choice question similar to those in the main game. This was later changed to where a question and four answers were presented, and each contestant ordered those answers in the manner specified. The contestant who achieved the correct order in the fastest time moved to the second portion of the game. If that contestant chose to stop the game early or was eliminated following an incorrect answer, a new contestant was chosen in the same manner from the remaining nine contestants. If the question is missed, it is thrown out and a new question is played in the same manner. If two or more players tie for the fastest time, those players play another question to break the tie. If any contestants are visually impaired, the host reads the question and four choices all at once, then repeats the choices after the music begins.
Additionally, contestants were required to answer 15 questions to win the top prize. The minimum payouts were £1,000 for answering five questions correctly and £32,000 for answering ten questions.
2010 clock format
The UK version adopted the U.S. 'Clock Format' on 3 August 2010, still using the 12-question money tree and that the final 5 questions would not have a time limit (unlike the U.S. version), and using the original lifelines. Contestants also receive a fourth lifeline; "Switch the Question" or "Switch", upon completing question 7.
Contestants would have to answer the first seven questions within a specific time limit: 15 seconds for questions one and two, and 30 seconds for each question thereafter. Questions 8-12 were not timed. If, during the first seven questions, the contestant ran out of time on a question, their winnings would drop back down to either nothing (on question 1 or 2) or the £1,000 milestone (if they passed that point), as if the question had been answered incorrectly. The clock was stopped when a contestant chose to use a lifeline on questions 1-7.
Text game (2004–2007)
On 23 October 2004, the show included a new feature called the "Walkaway Text Game". The competition was offered to viewers at home to play the text game where they had to answer the question, if a contestant decides to walk home with the cash prize they have got, by choosing the letters 'A, B, C or D' within 30 seconds to the number 07797 808 900. The viewer who answered the question wins £1,000 by having their entries selected randomly.
On 9 September 2006, there were some changes. The competition stayed the same but this time, they play it before some commercial breaks. A question to which the contestant has given their final answer, but the correct answer has not yet been revealed, is offered as a competition to viewers. Entry is via SMS text message at a cost of £1 per entry, and the competition runs through the commercial break, after which the answer is revealed and the game continues. One viewer who answered the question correctly wins £1,000. The text game ended on 28 July 2007.
Top prize winners
Judith Keppel (20 November 2000)
|£1 million (15 of 15) – no time limit|
|Which King was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine?|
|• A: Henry I||• B: Henry II|
|• C: Richard I||• D: Henry V|
|Keppel's £1 million question|
Keppel's victory was achieved exactly a year after the first Millionaire winner was broadcast, when John Carpenter became the first winner of the U.S. version of the show as well as the first winner worldwide.
David Edwards (21 April 2001)
|£1 million (15 of 15) – no time limit|
|If you planted the seeds of Quercus robur, what would grow?|
|• A: Trees||• B: Flowers|
|• C: Vegetables||• D: Grain|
|Edwards's £1 million question|
David Edwards (born 1947 in Barry, South Wales) is a former physics teacher at Cheadle High School and Denstone College in Staffordshire who became the first man to win the million pounds on the British Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on 21 April 2001, and only the second person to answer all 15 questions correctly, and hence win the prize, after Judith Keppel. He competed in both series of Are You an Egghead?, reaching the last 16 in 2008, and the final in 2009, where he lost to fellow Millionaire winner Pat Gibson.
His million pound question was "If you planted the seeds of Quercus robur, what would grow?" The options were Trees, Flowers, Vegetables and Grain. The correct answer was Trees. He used no lifelines for this question, having used all three on a previous question. The phone-a-friend he used was his son, Richard Edwards (who later won £125,000 on the show).
Charles Ingram (18 September 2001)
|£1 million (15 of 15) – no time limit|
|A number one followed by one hundred zeros is known by what name?|
|• A: Googol||• B: Megatron|
|• C: Gigabit||• D: Nanomole|
|Ingram's £1 million question|
Charles Ingram (born 6 August 1963) is a former British Army major who made headlines in Britain after cheating in the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in 2001. He was convicted of deception in 2003, and was given an 18-month suspended sentence, although he maintains that he did not cheat.
The ITV programme was produced by Celador at Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. After winning £1,000,000, the payout was suspended when Ingram was accused of cheating by having his wife, Diana, and an accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, cough as Ingram announced the correct answer from the available choices. Following a trial at Southwark Crown Court lasting four weeks (including jury deliberation for three-and-a-half days), which ended soon after a jury member was evicted for discussing the case in public, Charles and Diana Ingram and Whittock were convicted by a majority verdict of "procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception" on 7 April 2003.
Robert Brydges (29 September 2001)
|£1 million (15 of 15) – no time limit|
|Which scientific unit is named after an Italian nobleman?|
|• A: Pascal||• B: Ohm|
|• C: Volt||• D: Hertz|
|Brydges's £1 million question|
Robert Kempe Brydges is an Oxford-educated banker from Holland Park, London. He has previously acted as director of GNI Fund Management, an investment brokers firm, earning £300,000 a year and held the position of vice-president of US bank Hanover Trust.
On 29 September 2001, he was a winner of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire UK; depending on whether or not the controversial Charles Ingram, who won just twelve days in 18 September 2001, is counted, he was either the third or fourth winner. Brydges himself has made light of this fact, calling Ingram and himself winners 3A and 3B.
Brydges' appearance in the show fuelled controversy because of his wealth prior to participation - see #Robert_Brydges_affair.
Pat Gibson (24 April 2004)
|£1 million (15 of 15) – no time limit|
|Which of these is not one of the American Triple Crown horse races?|
|• A: Arlington Million||• B: Belmont Stakes|
|• C: Kentucky Derby||• D: Preakness Stakes|
|Gibson's £1 million question|
Pat Gibson (born 19 July 1961 Galway, Ireland) is an Irish quiz player. He is a multiple world champion in quizzing and one of the world's most successful quiz players. He is best known for winning several quiz shows and being a panellist on Eggheads. He was born and educated in Ireland but has lived in the United Kingdom for many years and competes as part of the England quiz team.
On 24 April 2004 he became the fourth contestant to win the £1m jackpot on the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. On the question below, he still had his 50:50 and phone a friend. He used the 50:50 first, where B. Belmont Stakes and D. Preakness Stakes disappeared. He then used his phone-a-friend option, phoning Mark Kerr (a highly ranked British quiz player and winner of TV's "Brainiest Estate Agent" title) who said he was 90% sure the answer was Arlington Million, which was Pat's original instinct. He was the only person in the United Kingdom to reach the one million pound question with two lifelines remaining. He used his Ask-the-Audience on the £64,000 question, and kept 50:50 and phone a friend back until the final question.
He correctly answered 'Arlington Million' to win £1 million.
Ingram Wilcox (23 September 2006)
|£1 million (15 of 15) – no time limit|
|Which boxer was famous for striking the gong in the introduction to J. Arthur Rank films?|
|• A: Bombardier Billy Wells||• B: Freddie Mills|
|• C: Terry Spinks||• D: Don Cockell|
|Wilcox's £1 million question|
Ingram Wilcox (born 1944) is a British quiz enthusiast who is best known for becoming the fifth and final person to win one million pounds on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in the United Kingdom on September 23, 2006. When he reached the million-pound question, he had already used up all his lifelines. In two previous appearances he reached the "fastest finger first" stage but did not get through. His final question was "Which boxer was famous for striking the gong in the introduction to J. Arthur Rank films?" He correctly chose 'Bombardier' Billy Wells to win the prize.
Several celebrities have appeared as contestants on the programme. Occasionally celebrities appeared on special episodes that coincide with holidays, such as Christmas, Mother's Day, Remembrance Day, or coinciding with the end of a school term.
- Adele Silva and Nick Miles
- Adrian Chiles and Frank Skinner
- Alan Sugar and Jeremy Beadle
- Alastair Stewart and Melinda Messenger
- Alice Beer and Tim Rice
- Alice Coulthard and James Sutton
- Alistair McGowan and Ronni Ancona
- Amanda Donohoe and Kim Thomson
- Amir Khan and Jason Manford
- Andrew Castle and Penny Smith
- Andrew Lancel and Gary Lucy
- Andrew Lancel and Kika Mirylees
- Anneka Rice and Penny Smith
- Antony Cotton and Suranne Jones
- Antony Cotton and mother Enid
- Austin Healey and Gary Lineker
- Ben Ofoedu and Vanessa Feltz
- Bill Kenwright and Jenny Seagrove
- Bob Mortimer and son Harry
- Bonnie Langford and Jason Gardiner
- Carol Smillie and Michael Aspel
- Carol Vorderman and Gok Wan
- Carol Vorderman and Caroline Quentin
- Caroline Flack and mother Chris
- Chris Evans and James Martin
- Chris Hoy and Kevin Bridges
- Christopher Biggins and Anna Ryder Richardson
- Connie Hyde and Julie Hesmondhalgh
- Danny Miller and Lucy Pargeter
- David Emanuel and Alexandra Burke
- David Gest and Jennie Bond
- David Hasselhoff and Denise Welch
- David Haye and Ann Widdecombe
- David Seaman and Judith Keppel
- David Walliams and mother Kathleen
- Denise van Outen and Johnny Vaughan
- Dermot Murnaghan and daughter Molly
- Dermot O'Leary and father Shaun
- Derek Laud and Edwina Currie
- Diarmuid Gavin and Samantha Bond
- Dominic Brunt and Mark Charnock
- Duncan Bannatyne and Kirsty Gallacher
- Duncan Bannatyne and Greg Rutherford
- Eamonn Holmes and Sir Alex Ferguson
- Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford
- Emma Forbes and Andi Peters
- Esther Rantzen and son Joshua
- Fatima Whitbread and Russell Watson
- Fern Britton and Phillip Schofield
- Fern Britton and daughter Grace
- Fiona Bruce and Nick Ross
- Fiona Phillips and Martin Frizzell
- Gabby Logan and Ally McCoist
- George Michael and Ronan Keating
- Gemma Merna and Jennifer Metcalfe
- Gloria Hunniford and Frederick Forsyth
- Gloria Hunniford and Russell Kane
- Greg Rusedski and wife Lucy
- Griff Rhys Jones and Saffron Burrows
- Harry Hill and Al Murray
- Heather Small and Mark Foster
- Heston Blumenthal and Kate Garraway
- Hilary Jones and Andrea McLean
- Hugh Bonneville and Lieutenant Gary Beels
- Hugo Taylor and Rosemary Shrager
- J. K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe
- James Cracknell and Beverley Turner
- James Nesbitt and Dom Joly
- Jamie Lomas and Kym Marsh
- Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean
- Jessica Hynes and Stephen Mangan
- Jimmy and Liza Tarbuck
- Jo Brand and Ricky Tomlinson
- Jo Brand and Nick Hancock
- Joan Collins and husband Percy
- Joe Calzaghe and son Connor
- Joe McElderry and grandmother Hilda
- Joe Pasquale and Phil Tufnell
- John Partridge and Allison Hammond
- Jon Culshaw and John Thomson
- Jon Culshaw and Debra Stephenson
- Jonathan Ansell and Connie Fisher
- J.B. Gill and Oritsé Williams
- Jonathan Kerrigan and Tricia Penrose
- Jonathan Ross and Jane Goldman
- Josie Lawrence and Meera Syal
- Judith Chalmers and Mark Durden-Smith
- Julie Peasgood and Kate McEnery
- Katherine Jenkins and Gabby Logan
- Katy Cavanagh and Mikey North
- Kaye Adams and Ross Kelly
- Kay Burley and Eamonn Holmes
- Kelvin Fletcher and brother Brayden
- Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie
- Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and wife Jackie
- Lea Kristensen and Jim Davidson
- Lee Mack and Des O'Connor
- Lesley Garrett and Paul O'Grady
- Louis Smith and Paul Hall
- Louis Walsh and Martine McCutcheon
- Lynda Bellingham and Bill Oddie
- Mark Durden-Smith and Judith Chalmers
- Martin Kemp and Gary Kemp
- Martin Kemp and Matt Cardle
- Max Beesley and Susie Amy
- Melanie Sykes and Des O'Connor
- Michael Ball and Eleanor Simmonds
- Neil Morrissey and Arabella Weir
- Neil Pearson and Charlie Higson
- Olly Murs and mother Vickie Lynn
- Omid Djalili and Bear Grylls
- Paddy McGuinness and wife Christine
- Pat Cash and Annabel Croft
- Patsy Palmer and son Charley
- Paul Potts and Shaheen Jafargholi
- Paula Radcliffe and Jonathan Edwards
- Pauline Quirke and Max Clifford
- Penny Lancaster and Ian Waite
- Peter Kay and Paddy McGuinness
- Piers Morgan and Emily Maitlis
- Rachel Riley and Dave Myers
- Rebecca Adlington and Kian Egan
- Richard Keys and Andy Gray
- Richard Madeley and Sara Cox
- Ricky Groves and Joe Swash
- Roger Black and Matthew Pinsent
- Russell Grant and Sheila Ferguson
- Rupert Grint and Emma Watson
- Sally Lindsay and Steve White
- Sally Whittaker and Michael Starke
- Samantha Womack and mother Di
- Samia Ghadie and Jennie McAlpine
- Samia Ghadie and Charlie Condou
- Sean Gallagher and Michelle Collins
- Sebastian Coe and Nell McAndrew
- Sebastian Coe and Steve Cram
- Sharron Davies and Colin Jackson
- Sherrie Hewson and Carol McGiffin
- Sian Lloyd and Lembit Opik
- Sian Williams and Bill Turnbull
- Simon Cowell and Neil Fox
- Stephen Fry and Nigella Lawson
- Stephen Mangan and Robert Delamere
- Stacey Solomon and Lee Mack
- Steve Pemberton and mother Margaret
- Steve Redgrave and wife Ann
- Steve Redgrave and son Zak
- Steve Ryder and Andy Townsend
- Tim Vine and Jeremy Vine
- Tim Vine and Cheryl Fergison
- Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter
- Tony Hadley and John Keeble
- Tony Slattery and Jon Snow
- Trisha Goddard and husband Peter
- Ulrika Jonsson and Lance Gerrard-Wright
- Una Healy and Ben Foden
- Vic Reeves and Matt Lucas
- Vic Reeves and Nancy Sorrell
- Wendi Peters and Jamie Theakston
- Will Greenwood and Martin Johnson
- Will Young and Emma Bunton
- William Roache and Michelle Collins
- Zoe Lucker and John Suchet
Incorrect answer to question accepted
In March 1999, contestant Tony Kennedy was asked "Theoretically, what is the minimum number of strokes with which a tennis player can win a set?", with possible answers of 12, 24, 36, and 48. He calculated that a player would need four shots to win a game, with six games in a set, giving an answer of 24. This won him the £64,000 question.
The Daily Mirror newspaper reported the next day, with the pun headline 'Fault!', that a player could win a game without playing a shot if their opponent double-faulted on every serve. This would allow a winning set in 12 strokes, assuming the player aced each of his or her own serves. The programme acknowledged the mistake and apologised for it, but Kennedy was allowed to keep his prize money (an eventual £125,000).
One Foot in the Grave
The broadcast of Judith Keppel's victory as the first jackpot winner on the UK version of Millionaire coincided with the transmission of the final episode of the popular BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave. The news of Keppel's win, recorded the preceding Sunday, was leaked to the press; ITV announced Keppel's success at a press conference on the day of broadcast. David Renwick, writer of One Foot was annoyed that this would take "audience interest" away from the sitcom. He said that the early announcement of the outcome of Millionaire was "naked opportunism", and it "would have been more honorable to let the show go out in the normal way". He pointed out that they also "killed off any element of tension or surprise in their own programme", but "television is all about ratings".
It was alleged that Millionaire's production company Celador had rigged the show to spoil the BBC's expected high ratings for the sitcom's finale. Richard Wilson in particular was quoted as saying that ITV had "planned" the win, adding "it seems a bit unfair to take the audience away from Victor's last moments on earth." Richard Webber's account, in his 2006 book, cites "unnamed BBC sources" as those who "questioned the authenticity of Keppel's victory". ITV was upset at the allegation, claiming that it "undermined viewers' faith in the programme." Leslie Hill, the chairman of ITV, wrote to Sir Christopher Bland, the chairman of the BBC Board of Governors, to complain about the issue. The corporation apologised, saying that any suggestion of 'rigging' "did not represent the official view of the BBC." Eleven viewers complained about the quiz show to the Independent Television Commission (ITC), but Millionaire was cleared of any wrongdoing.
On a special Valentine's Day celebrity edition of the show in 2006, which aired 11 February, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Jackie Llewelyn-Bowen reached the £1,000,000 question, which was "Translated from the Latin, what is the official motto of the United States?" The Bowens chose answer A, "In God, We Trust", but the correct answer given was actually answer B, "One Out of Many," which is the English translation for the Latin E pluribus unum. Because they answered the £1,000,000 question incorrectly, they lost £468,000. However, the question turned out to be ambiguous, as "In God, We Trust" is the legal motto for the United States; the phrase is found on many American monetary coins, though it is not of Latin origin. Because of this, they were invited back to play again, reinstating their previously lost £468,000 to bring them back up to £500,000. The contestants decided not to risk it this time and left with the £500,000.
No other contestant since then has ever lost £468,000. Before that, the most money ever lost was £218,000, which has occurred twice when contestants have answered the 14th question incorrectly, lowering their prize from £250,000 to just £32,000. The two contestants were Duncan Bickley and Rob Mitchell in October 2000 and October 2003 respectively.
Charles Ingram affair
In an episode of the show recorded on 9 and 10 September 2001, Charles Ingram won the £1 million prize. During the recording it was noticed that a suspicious pattern of coughing could be heard. Ingram's unusual behaviour in the hot seat also drew attention. Analysed, it was believed that another contestant, Tecwen Whittock, sitting behind him, was offering him prompts in the form of coughs, indicating the correct answers. On some of the questions, Ingram read aloud all of the four answers, until a significant cough was heard, before choosing his answer. In some cases, he dismissed an answer, read aloud the answer choices again, and then picked the answer that he had earlier dismissed. It also appeared on the tapes that after Ingram repeated a particular incorrect answer several times believing it to be correct, Whittock coughed and then loudly whispered 'No!'
After Ingram won the million, Tecwen Whittock won the next Fastest Finger game and so took to the hotseat. He reached the £4,000 mark, but dropped back to £1,000 after answering a cookery question incorrectly.
The Prosecution suggested that Ingram's wife, Diana (who had won £32,000 on a previous show, as had her brother), had organised the scam. Pager telephone records revealed what appeared to be a practice session for another plan to cheat the system that was not subsequently carried out. The Prosecution claimed that the original plan was for Ingram to hide four pagers on his body that would vibrate when an accomplice called the pager indicating the correct answer. It would seem that during one of Diana's questions, an audible cough could be heard after Tarrant had read out all the questions to her, with the cough landing at the end of the correct answer.
Following a trial at Southwark Crown Court lasting four weeks, 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 Tecwen Whittock received a 12-month suspended sentence and was fined £10,000. Together with legal costs, the Ingrams had to pay £115,000, in addition to not receiving his £1,000,000.
Despite the conviction, the Ingrams and Tecwen Whittock continue to deny that they colluded or acted dishonestly. They appealed against the conviction. An ITV documentary entitled Millionaire: A Major Fraud, presented by Martin Bashir, was broadcast in Britain on 21 April 2003 with a follow-up two weeks later, Millionaire: The Final Answer. The first advert in the first advertisement break in Major Fraud was for cough medicine. Excerpts from the recording were broadcast but with enhanced audio highlighting the coughs emanating, the Prosecution alleged, from Tecwen Whittock. Immediately after Major Fraud, the uncut recording, but again with enhanced audio, was broadcast on ITV2. Major Fraud included additional video recorded during the programme of Mrs. Ingram sitting in the audience and apparently prompting Major Ingram with her own coughing and making glances in the direction of Tecwen Whittock. Major Fraud also contained interviews with production staff and some contestants present at the recording describing how they felt that something unusual had been happening. Notably, none of the defendants were interviewed. Ingram described Major Fraud and the programme broadcast on ITV2 as "one of the greatest TV editing con tricks in history".
On 24 July 2003, the British Army ordered Charles Ingram to resign his commission as a Major.
James Plaskett has argued in favour of the innocence of Ingram, his wife, and Whittock. 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?' Jon Ronson, who attended the trial and had written two articles about it in The Guardian, wrote a piece about Plaskett's theory entitled 'Are the Millionaire three innocent?'.
Plaskett may also be heard at Episode 29 of The Pod Delusion podcast being interviewed by political blogger, Mark Thompson, who was himself led by Plaskett's essay to take an interest in the case of The Millionaire Three. In January 2006, Plaskett himself made it into the hot seat and won £250,000. He subsequently sponsored Ingram for £25,000 to run the 2006 Flora London Marathon for the charity SENSE.
Robert Brydges affair
The participation of Robert Brydges raised the ire of Brydges's neighbour, Sarah Elliott, who said "Bob is loaded. When I found out he was going on the show I knew he would win. He's as sharp as a razor and has no problem under pressure. But gambling on the tricky questions must be a lot easier when you're already worth millions. I suppose £16,000 must seem like loose change to him.". Elliott's grandmother was less kind, saying "It is so unfair that someone like Robert should be allowed on the show. That family certainly does not need the money. It won't make any difference to them because they're filthy rich and live like millionaires anyway." In addition, the show has been called elitist, with presenter Eamonn Holmes suggested live on GMTV that only millionaires or minor royals had a chance of winning the prize. A spokesperson for Celador responded "Everybody has an equal chance to get on. It is impossible for us to check how much money people already have when they get on the show. We'd love a penniless binman as our next winner, but it never happens."
Phone a Friend Syndicates
In March 2007, various UK newspapers reported that an organised syndicate had been getting quiz enthusiasts onto the show in return for a percentage of their winnings. The rate varied between a quarter and a half depending on the stage reached by the contestant. For this, the contestant received help in getting onto the show. In many cases, the initial calls were made on their behalf. In other cases the contestants made the calls and had the costs refunded but received help with the call back tie-breakers via Skype. In most cases, when the contestants were in the hot seat, they again received help with the phone a friend question that involved the syndicate using Google to find the answers.
The person behind the syndicate was Keith Burgess from Northern Ireland. Burgess admitted to helping around 200 contestants to appear on the show since 1999, for which he estimates to have made around half a million pounds. The show producers are believed to have been aware of this operation. Burgess stated, "The show knows about me and these types of syndicates, but they cover it up to keep the show going." This syndicate resulted in the removal of the Phone-a-Friend lifeline in the United States in 2009. 
An earlier version of a Phone a Friend syndicate was reported in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo during 2003.
Paul Smith, the Managing Director of Celador Productions, stated, "We are aware of Paddy Spooner and what people similar to him are doing, and we have made a priority of changing our question procedure. We are confident we have now made it impossible for anyone to manipulate the system."
- "Toy News" New owners take on Celador International and Millionaire brand, toynews-online.biz, Retrieved on July 7, 2012
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