Chris Tarrant

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Chris Tarrant

Chris Tarrant Phooto.jpg
Tarrant in 2009
Christopher John Tarrant

(1946-10-10) 10 October 1946 (age 73)
Reading, Berkshire, England
EducationKing's School, Worcester
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham
Years active1974–present
Sheila Tarrant
(m. 1971; div. 1982)

Ingrid Dupre-Walsh
(m. 1991; div. 2007)
Partner(s)Jane Bird (2008–present)
Children4, including Toby
Chris Tarrant signature.svg

Christopher John Tarrant, OBE (born 10 October 1946)[1] is an English radio and television broadcaster. He presented the ITV children's television show Tiswas from 1974 to 1981, and the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? from 1998 to 2014. He was a Capital Radio host from 1984 to 2004.

Tarrant's career began in 1964, when he was hired by the since-dissolved television network ATV. He presented ATV Today, a current affairs programme serving the Midlands area of England, until 1982. Tarrant rose to prominence after becoming a co-host on Tiswas, the children's television show broadcast on a Saturday morning from 1974 to 1981. In January 1982, along with Bob Carolgees, John Gorman, Randolph Sutherland and Lenny Henry, Tarrant launched a late-night show, O.T.T., thought of as an "adult" version of Tiswas, but it did not prove popular. Tarrant was a Capital Radio host from 1984 to 2004, presenting the early-morning show Capital Breakfast. The show was highly popular, increasing Capital Radio's audience share in London.

Tarrant hosted the ITV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? from 1998 to 2014, while also providing some audio recordings for some console games, and a tabletop game made by Tiger Electronics based on the show. In total he recorded a total of 592 episodes, where five contestants walked away with the cash prize of £1 million. Since Millionaire, Tarrant found successful presenting parts harder to come by, hosting a series of failed game shows for ITV. In 2012, Tarrant began a travel documentary series, Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways, which has been compared to similar programmes presented by Michael Palin and Michael Portillo.

Tarrant received an OBE in 2004 for his charity work, in particular his campaigning on behalf of disadvantaged children.

Early life[edit]

Tarrant was born in October 1946 in Reading, England, to Basil and Joan Tarrant. His father had joined a territorial unit of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in 1936 and was among those evacuated from Dunkirk in the retreat of May 1940. He was also active in the Normandy landings.[2] Tarrant was educated as a boarder in Choir House at the King's School, Worcester from 1960 to 1964. He represented the school at hockey and cricket and gained A, B and D grades at A-level in English, history and ancient history. He then studied English at the University of Birmingham, graduating in 1967.[3][4]

Tarrant worked as a schoolteacher and also briefly as a film director for the Central Office of Information before joining ATV as a newsreader on ATV Today.[5]



Tarrant rose to prominence after becoming a co-host on Tiswas, a children's television show broadcast on a Saturday morning from 1974 to 1981. In 1982, he hosted the short-lived Saturday late-night show O.T.T., which was billed as an adult version of Tiswas but was not such a success. After this, he did a stint on the breakfast television station TV-am.[6]

Capital Radio[edit]

In 1984, Tarrant joined Capital Radio as a presenter, initially presenting the station's Sunday lunchtime show before moving to a late morning weekday slot, following David Jensen. From March 1987 until April 2004 he hosted Capital Breakfast. The show was highly popular, increasing Capital Radio's audience share in London. Tarrant had regular co-presenter Kara Noble (eventually replaced by Zabe Newsome for a very short duration) as his sidekick for the early years until Noble moved to Heart FM in 1995 with regular contributions from Flying Eye traffic reporter Russ Kane and newsreader Howard Hughes.

At 9:00 am on 2 April 2004, after hosting 4,425 shows over 17 years on Capital Radio and giving away prizes to the value of £3.5 million, Tarrant said his farewell to the station.[7]

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?[edit]

Tarrant began to host the popular television quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 1998.[8] The format was sold to over 100 other countries, and in 2002, the UK version merged with the Irish version. Tarrant has coined catchphrases such as "But we don't want to give you that!" and "Is that your final answer?" throughout the show. It was confirmed by that Tarrant is among the leading regular game show hosts for at least one full series on British television, with sixteen different series to his credit.[9]

In September 2001, an oblivious Tarrant asked the questions of contestant Charles Ingram, then a British Army Major who was found to be cheating in a 2003 trial. The same year ITV themselves made a documentary about the incident: A Major Fraud.[10][11]

In October 2013, it was confirmed that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was to come to an end after airing for 15 years on ITV. The channel made the decision to coincide with Tarrant stepping down as host.[12] Of this, Tarrant said:

Tarrant's final live edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was a celebrity edition which aired live on 19 December 2013. On the day before, Tarrant pre-recorded two other celebrity episodes that were shown in February 2014.[13]

In 2018, ITV commissioned another series of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? to be presented by new host Jeremy Clarkson. Now former host, Tarrant stated he had chosen not to watch the revived series. In a TV interview he stated "I did it [Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?] for 15 years, about 700 shows. I loved it – I had a fantastic time but I don't want to do any more, so good luck. It’s a great show." Tarrant said he would have "politely turned down" an offer by the network to return to the show if approached.[citation needed]

Other work[edit]

Chris is also known to have worked at Salford Royal Foundation Trust as a Hospital radio presenter

Tarrant narrated the schools programme Stop, Look, Listen, made by ATV and later Central Television.

Tarrant hosted Everybody's Equal in 1989, although the programme came to an end in 1990 (the format was revived in 1997 by Channel 5 as Whittle, with Tim Vine as host). In 1991 he hosted the second series of Cluedo which was part panel quiz and part murder drama, based on the board game of the same name. On 1 January 1993, after Thames Television lost its ITV franchise had been replaced by Carlton Television, Tarrant hosted the first programme of the new contractor, A Carlton New Year. Also in 1993, Tarrant hosted Lose A Million, in which contestants started off with a (fictional) million pounds and were required to lose it by aiming to incorrectly answer a set of questions. Ironically Tarrant would go on to host Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, where the objective of the game is to do the complete opposite. From 1996 to 1999 Tarrant hosted the UK edition of Man O Man.

In 1994, Tarrant hosted a revival of Pop Quiz, previously hosted by Mike Read.[14] It ran one series and eight episodes in total, airing again on Saturday nights (as Read's version did).

Tarrant was also the long-term host of Tarrant on TV, a programme which shows clips featuring a number of unusual television programmes from around the world. He presented the show from 1990 to 2006. In 1998, Tarrant released a compilation album entitled Ultimate Party Megamix on PolyGram Television's record label. A second edition entitled Ultimate Summer Party was also released. Both albums contain songs compiled by Tarrant himself in the form of a megamix.

In 2003, he did voice over work on the film Johnny English, where he starred as himself hosting a radio presentation of Sauvage's coronation. In 2008, he presented the game show It's Not What You Know on Challenge. In January 2009, Tarrant began to host new ITV show The Colour of Money, which was cancelled after just seven episodes after failing to perform well in the ratings.[15]

In June 2008 it was announced he would return to radio, hosting a weekly Saturday morning show for the GMG Radio network of stations including London's 102.2 Smooth Radio, Real Radio in Scotland and the North West's Century Radio.[16] The show would air in direct competition to Jonathan Ross's show on BBC Radio 2 and began on 26 July. It was aired for 12 months until July 2009.

In 2009, UKTV signed Tarrant to present a show for Watch called Tarrant Lets the Kids Loose. The eight-part series, beginning on 4 October, gives three- to six-year-olds the chance to fulfil their greatest ambitions in the adult world; whether running a photographic studio, a radio station or an ice-cream van. The show will be executively produced by Lisa Perrin and Tess Cumming.[17]

In April 2010, Tarrant become one of the first three celebrities to be subjected to the British version of the American institution of a comedy roast, on Channel 4's A Comedy Roast.In August 2010, Tarrant launched the Fishing with Chris Tarrant application for iOS devices in association with Angling Times magazine.[18][19] Also in 2010 he presented ITV1's The Door, a game show in which celebrities faced unpleasant and scary challenges to win money for charity.

Tarrant has sat in for Steve Wright on his BBC Radio 2 show on at least ten occasions between 2010 and 2013.[citation needed]

On 13 April 2012, Tarrant made an appearance in the BBC show Would I Lie to You? on David Mitchell's team alongside Mel Giedroyc.

In 2012, Tarrant filmed the Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways series for Channel 5, with locations including the Congo Ocean Railway, the Ghan across Australia and the Konkan Railway. The series was aired in December 2012.[20] A second series was shown in 2015.[21] In 2013, Channel 5 aired a new series called Chris Tarrant Goes Fishing. The show was a hit with the viewing figures. A year later Tarrant began appearing in the ITV daytime game show Show Me the Telly as the TV legends team captain.

Since 2014, Tarrant has been a brand ambassador and has appeared in commercials for Lottoland.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Tarrant had two children from a marriage to Sheila Tarrant, Helen and Jennifer. The couple married in 1971 and divorced in 1982. Tarrant met his second wife, Ingrid Dupre-Walsh, when they both worked for TV-am. The couple married in 1991 and divorced in 2007[23] when it was revealed that Tarrant had a "close" relationship with Fiona McKechnie, a schoolteacher and co-patron for Headway.[24] After a series of tabloid stories, on 18 September 2006 the couple announced that they were separating.[25] The couple previously lived with their two children, Sammy and Toby, in Esher, plus two children from Ingrid's previous marriage, Dexter and Fia, the latter a radio presenter with Reading 107 FM. In a statement in September 2006, Tarrant said: "I am deeply sorry for the hurt I have caused to my loyal wife and wonderful children, all of whom I adore. I have only myself to blame for the breakdown of my marriage."[25] Since 2008, Tarrant has been in a long-term relationship with legal assistant Jane Bird.

In June 2000, Tarrant's River Thames launch boat the Ben Gunn was vandalised and burnt at its mooring in East Molesey.[26] Tarrant's father died in 2003 and his mother in 2012. While Tarrant was preparing for his mother's funeral, he discovered his father's war diary in an open desk. Tarrant stated, "For the first time, I had his own record of his wartime experiences."

On 12 March 2014, it was reported that Tarrant had suffered a mini stroke while flying from Bangkok to London on 1 March 2014, returning from overseas shooting for Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways.[27] Upon landing, he was rushed to Charing Cross Hospital where doctors did emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his right leg.[28]

Tarrant is a fan of British rock group Status Quo, and in 1991 followed them on their Rock Til You Drop tour which covered four concerts in one day (Sheffield, Glasgow, Birmingham and London) in aid of Nordorff-Robbins. In 2013 he went to the premiere of their bands feature film Bula Quo! in London. He is also a supporter of Reading Football Club.[29]

Tarrant's son Toby has followed in his father's footsteps as a radio DJ employed by Global Radio, hosting programmes initially for Capital FM and now Radio X.[30]

Charity work[edit]

Tarrant's charity work, for which he received an OBE in 2004[31] includes: being an ambassador for the homeless charity, Centrepoint; trustee/patron of the New School at West Heath for disadvantaged children (the school previously being a private school for girls that Diana, Princess of Wales attended); patron of Milly's Fund, set up in memory of murdered Surrey teenager "Milly" Dowler; patron of Swings & Smiles, a charity for children with special needs.

He was a patron of the Headway Thames Valley, until details of his affair with trustee Fiona McKechnie became public and he resigned.[32]

Tarrant is a patron of the Trooper Potts VC Memorial Trust, Reading.[33]

Legal troubles[edit]

On 13 May 2007, Tarrant was arrested on suspicion of assault at an Indian restaurant and released on police bail. The incident took place at the MemSaab Restaurant on Maid Marian Way, Nottingham, where Tarrant, who had been joking with a couple dining at an adjacent table, threw an item of cutlery towards the man.[34][35] Tarrant admitted to the BBC that he did jokingly "lob" some cutlery onto the couple's table after asking them to leave him alone to discuss work with his colleagues. He said: "I've no idea what his [the accuser's] motives were – it genuinely makes no sense. I got back from the station at 1 am and to this minute I am completely bemused by what happened."[36] On 25 May 2007, Tarrant was formally cautioned by Nottinghamshire Constabulary with regard to the incident.[37]

On 5 March 2009, Tarrant was arrested on suspicion of assault at his home in Esher. He was later released without charge.[38]

On 18 December 2017, Tarrant appeared in court charged with drink-driving. He returned to court on 18 January 2018 and received a £6,000 fine and a 12-month driving ban.[39]



Year Title Role Channel Notes
1964–1981 ATV Today Presenter ATV Regular presenter
1974–1981 Tiswas ITV 272 episodes
1982 O.T.T. 12 episodes
1989–1991 That's Showbusiness Panelist BBC1 4 episodes
Everybody's Equal Host ITV 3 series
1990–2006 Tarrant on TV 15 series
1991 Cluedo 6 episodes
1993 Lose A Million 1 series
1994 Pop Quiz BBC1 7 episodes
1996–1999 Man O Man ITV 7 episodes
1998–2014 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 30 series
2007 The Great Pretender 30 episodes
2008 It's Not What You Know Challenge 30 episodes
2009 The Colour of Money ITV 7 episodes
Tarrant Lets the Kids Loose Watch 1 series
2010 The Door ITV 2 episodes
2012–present Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways Presenter Channel 5 5 series
2013 Show Me the Telly Team captain ITV 20 episodes
2018 Intercity 125: The Train That Changed Britain Narrator Channel 5 2 episodes
2019 World's Busiest Train Stations Narrator Channel 5 4 episodes

Television advertisements[edit]

Year Title Role
1982 Bassett's Liquorice Allsorts Himself
1983 Kellogg's Rice Krispies Himself
1990 Kentucky Fried Chicken Himself
1991-01 Capital London Himself
1992 Pontin's Himself, voice only
1994 Daily Express Himself
1997 101 Dalmatians Himself, voice only
1998-01 ONdigital Himself
2000 McDonald's Himself
2005 Tesco Himself, voice only
2014–16 Lottoland Himself

Awards and honours[edit]

Tarrant's star on Broad Street, awarded to him in 2010
Year Award Work Result Notes
1981 British Academy Television Awards 'Harlequin' (Drama/Light Entertainment) Tiswas Nominated
2000 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Performer (Non-Acting) Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Won
National Television Awards Most Popular Entertainment Presenter Tarrant on TV Nominated
Special Recognition Award N/A Won
2001 RTS Television Award Best Presenter Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Nominated
2006 British Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement N/A Won
  • Tarrant was voted Number 38 in ITV's TV's 50 Greatest Stars list of 2006.
  • In August 2010, Tarrant was awarded a place on Birmingham's Walk of Stars, and made an honorary citizen of Birmingham. On receiving the award, he said, "I love it here. I'm an honorary Brummie. I owe everything that has happened in my career to my start in Birmingham with ATV and Tiswas. I'm very proud to have my own bit of pavement on Broad Street in Brum."[40]


  • Album Tiswas presents The Four Bucketeers
  • Single "The Bucket of Water Song/Smello"
  • Single "Water is Wonderful/Raspberry Rock"
  • Album Saturday Scene
  • Album Ultimate Party Megamix
  • Album Ultimate Summer Party


  1. ^ Ross, Deborah (8 January 2001). "Chris Tarrant: Confident?". The Independent. London. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  2. ^ Wintle, Angela (24 May 2014). "Chris Tarrant: 'Dad was my closest friend'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Outstanding Alumni – Chris Tarrant OBE". University of Birmingham. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  4. ^ Raymond Snoddy (12 September 2005). "Chris Tarrant: The all-rounder". The Independent. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  5. ^ "My Life in Media: Chris Tarrant". The Independent. London. 22 November 2004. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  6. ^ Tiswas website Archived 12 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Chris Tarrant – last show on Capital – 2004". Audioboom. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  8. ^ "ITV axe Who Wants To Be A Millionaire as Tarrant steps down after 15 years". Daily Mail. London. 22 October 2013.
  9. ^ "UK Game Show Records: Host of the most game shows". Archived from the original on 11 February 2015.
  10. ^ Harrison, Angus (9 September 2016). "That Time a Guy Won 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' by Cheating Terribly". VICE. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  11. ^ Millionaire: A Major Fraud (2003) on IMDb
  12. ^ "'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' to end after 15 years". Digital Spy. 22 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Lost in TV audience services". Lost in TV. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013.
  14. ^ "Chris Tarrant Interview – Celebrity Radio By Alex Belfield". Celebrity Radio By Alex Belfield. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Chris Tarrant's latest show axed". STV Entertainment. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2009.
  16. ^ Sweney, Mark (30 June 2008). "Tarrant v Ross: let battle commence". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  17. ^ Sweney, Mark (1 July 2009). "Chris Tarrant to present kids' hidden-camera show for UKTV". the Guardian. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  18. ^ Chris Tarrant launches iPhone fishing app, 20 August 2010, Angling Times
  19. ^ Fishing with Chris Tarrant website Archived 3 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Chris Tarrant – Extreme Railways Archived 21 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine, 6 December 2012, Channel 5
  21. ^ "Chris Tarrant: on board the world's extreme railways". The Telegraph. 26 February 2016 – via
  22. ^ 16 January 2017, IMDb
  23. ^ "Tarrants are granted fast divorce". BBC News. 7 February 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  24. ^ "The blonde at the centre of Chris Tarrant's marriage problems". Daily Mail. London. 17 September 2006.
  25. ^ a b "Tarrant confirms marriage is over". BBC News. 19 September 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  26. ^ "Tarrant fury after boat fire". BBC News. 22 June 2000. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  27. ^ "Chris Tarrant recovering in hospital after 'mini-stroke'". BBC News. 12 March 2014.
  28. ^ "Chris Tarrant looks happy and healthy as he steps out with girlfriend". Mail Online. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  29. ^ "Chris Tarrant likes being one of the fans at Reading FC". BBC News. London: BBC. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  30. ^ Media, Triple A. "Toby Tarrant". Triple A Media.
  31. ^ "Tarrant 'proud' to receive honour". BBC News. 22 June 2004. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  32. ^ Whitaker, Thomas (17 May 2007). "Chris Tarrant quits tryst fund". The Sun. London.
  33. ^ Hyde, Nathan (5 October 2015). "Trooper Potts: Reading's only Victoria Cross winner commemorated with statue outside Forbury Gardens". Get Reading.
  34. ^ Walker, Peter (14 May 2007). "Tarrant held over alleged assault". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  35. ^ "Chris Tarrant arrested for 'assault'". Metro.
  36. ^ "TV's Tarrant 'bemused' by arrest". BBC News. 14 May 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  37. ^ "Tarrant cautioned over curry row". BBC News. 25 May 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  38. ^ "Tarrant arrested in assault claim". BBC News. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  39. ^ "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? host Chris Tarrant charged with drink-driving 'after tip off to cops'". The Sun. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  40. ^ "Tarrant honoured by adopted city". 6 August 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2019.

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