Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Australian game show)

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Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Australia millionaire.jpg
Also known as'Millionaire'
GenreGame show
Created byDavid Briggs
Directed byPeter Ots
Presented byEddie McGuire
Composer(s)Keith Strachan
Matthew Strachan
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons8 (original)
1 ($5 Million)
8 (Hot Seat)
No. of episodes292 (original)
6 ($5 Million)
1500+ (Hot Seat)
Production location(s)GTV-9, Richmond, Victoria
Running time30 minutes (1999–2000)
60 minutes (2000–2006)
90 minutes (2007)
Production company(s)Grundy Television (1999–2001)
Celador (1999-2006)
2waytraffic (2007)
Original networkNine Network
Picture format576i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Audio formatStereo (1999–2006)
Dolby Digital 5.1 (2007)
Original release18 April 1999 (1999-04-18) –
26 November 2007 (2007-11-26)
Followed by1 vs. 100
Millionaire Hot Seat

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is an Australian television game show which would offer a maximum cash prize of $1,000,000 for answering 15 successive multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty as a team. The show was based on and follows the same general format of the original version of the show from the United Kingdom, and is part of the international Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? franchise.


Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Debuted in Australia on 18 April 1999 on the Nine Network and was hosted by Eddie McGuire.[1]

Beginning with an eleven-question format starting at $1,000, this was later changed to 15 and offered a top prize of $1 million. In the 2007 revision of the show, the new maximum prize money on offer is $5 million; however, in the 2009 revision the top prize reverted to $1 million. The show ran in the Monday 8:30 pm time slot between 1999 and 2006 except for a brief two-week period in 2004 where a shortened half-hour edition was put up against Seven's Deal or No Deal in the 5:30 pm time slot leading into the 6:00 pm evening news. This move was designed specifically to arrest declining ratings in Nine's Sydney market, where its once-dominant news bulletin was starting to be challenged by the rival Seven News in the ratings.[2][3] This incarnation turned out to be a ratings failure, and it lasted for only one week.

This was the first country to have a fastest-finger round where two people answered the fastest at the same time. As a result, another question was asked but neither of them got it right, so another question was asked. The fastest finger later on, instead of giving out one answer, two answers had to be given out to avoid any random guessing from happening. Later still, the contestants playing the fastest finger had to rank the four options in the correct order (as per the question), to avoid people winning Fastest Finger on a guess.

In the first few seasons, some questions often had a joke answer for the D choice (as with the US version of the show), for example, the question "The 80s band with the hit song 'Relax' was Frankie goes to... where?" had Collingwood offered as a D joke (this being a reference to Eddie McGuire being president of the Collingwood Football Club). As well, the Fastest Finger First segment from 1999 until 2003 required the ten contestants to give a correct answer as quickly as possible before reverting to the international standard of rules in 2004 where contestants had to order the four options in a row.

The 11 March 2002 episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? scored a national audience of 1.51 million, just under 200,000 more than what The Weakest Link: The Mole Special achieved on the same night.

In April 2003, the British episode in which Charles Ingram cheated all the way to the top prize was aired on the Nine Network, featuring Ingram's run in its entirety, and watched by over two million Australians.[4] At the time, the Australian version did not yet have a top prize winner. In 2001, an episode featuring Survivor winner Richard Hatch incorrectly answering his fourth question (see below) was also shown in the United States.

On 9 February 2006, it was announced that McGuire would become the new CEO of the Nine Network,[5] filling a vacancy created by the departure of David Gyngell in May 2005.[6] As a result of this, McGuire had to sacrifice his on-air commitments. However, unlike The AFL Footy Show where McGuire was replaced with Garry Lyon and James Brayshaw, the network could not find a suitable replacement.[7] The final episode aired on 3 April 2006. The last contestant was Mr. Tony Egan of Wagga Wagga, NSW, who won $32,000.[8]


On 29 January 2007, McGuire returned to working in front of the camera, hosting the Australian version of the quiz show, 1 vs. 100. This was followed up with McGuire announcing on 18 May 2007 that he would be resigning as CEO of the Nine Network, and would be taking on a new position in programming services, as well as more on-screen roles.[9] With the resignation officially taking effect on 30 June 2007, McGuire continued hosting 1 vs. 100 until poor ratings forced the hiatus of the program in October 2007.[10]

On 20 August, it was announced that Nine's nightly quiz show Temptation would be rested for the remainder of the year and replaced with nightly half-hour editions of Millionaire to be aired between 7:00 and 7:30 pm[11] However, with the return of David Gyngell to the CEO role in September[12] he immediately announced that a new version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? would be broadcast live to air from 7:00 pm for 90 minutes on Monday night and that Temptation would be run on Tuesday to Friday nights from 7:00 pm.[13]

2007 format[edit]

Contestant (Henry Kiss) and the 16 questions money tree

While this version is very similar to the original, with the program's return comes an additional lifeline which is obtained once a contestant reaches the second safe level of $32,000. The lifeline is called "Switch the Question" (also known as a "Flip"), where the contestant may dismiss the current question, see the answer, and to play a new one worth the same dollar amount. However, they will not have any lifelines used on the discarded question returned to them.

The lifeline first appeared in the UK program in a number of celebrity editions, and most recently in its 300th episode in 2002. It was also used the US version from 2004–2008. The idea was taken from the UK show The People Versus.

The most notable change to the format is the addition of a bonus 16th question, which is worth $5 million. After answering question 15 correctly, they have the option of going for the bonus question. If the contestant gives the correct answer, he or she will win $5 million (the largest top prize in the history of Australian TV game shows). However, if an incorrect answer is given, then his or her winnings will plummet down to only $32,000; a devastating $968,000 loss.

In the past, contestants that use the Phone a Friend lifeline had to give out three phone numbers to choose from. However, in some cases, their friends sometimes were ready to look up the answers (such as asking people around for them, or going online for the answers). In the 2007 version, since the show was live, whenever a contestant was in the studio, their three friends would be seated in another studio room (in a Channel 9 studio in their nearby city) and not see or hear any questions or answers. This prevented any unfair advantage as they can watch the show live and look up the answers online.

Also, if McGuire believes that the contestant is taking too long to make a decision, the contestant may be put on a shot clock of 60 seconds. If the shot clock expires, the contestant is forced to walk away with their current winnings. This rule was introduced because the format was live. The previous format was pre-recorded where the producers could edit the contestant's deliberations in case they were longer than the producers preferred. The host has to make the decision, which is unlike the US version, which adopted a fixed 15 second (first five), 30 seconds (second five), 45 seconds (questions 11–14) and total time saved plus 45 seconds (15th question) clock in 2008.

Another notable change is the elimination of the preliminary Fastest Finger First rounds, similar to the syndicated US show. McGuire simply calls out the contestant's name and he or she comes into the set and immediately sits in the hot seat, as opposed to before when 10 contestants had to answer a question correctly in the fastest time to get into the hot seat.

The series ran for its scheduled 6 episodes from 22 October to 26 November 2007.[citation needed]

2010 specials[edit]

On 27 February 2010, a prime time special called Whizz Kids: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was broadcast in which teams of students tried to win up to $1,000,000 for their school. Another episode was broadcast on 6 March 2010.

The special used the original format. Two lifelines also changed slightly. The Phone a Friend lifeline was called Phone the Teacher, students being able to call a teacher from their school. Also, as the show was prerecorded, the teachers had to be in a room where they could not see or hear the questions and answers in the studio to prevent them from looking up the answers through books or online or asking other teachers for the answer. The second lifeline change was that the Ask the Audience lifeline was called Ask the School, in which students from the contestants' school could vote using electronic keypads while they were watching the show being recorded. In addition, the "Switch the Question" lifeline was no longer available.

In total, the three schools, Engadine High School in NSW, Blackburn High School in Victoria and Frankston High School, also in Victoria, won $258,000 (the latter walked away with $8,000 whilst the remaining two schools won $125,000). The answers to the questions in which they walked away wounded up being wrong. Also, joke answers were introduced in these specials (most notably for the D choice), such as in a question about what attracts magnets in the second episode, a D) choice was offered as All the single ladies. For the record, the answer was 'iron' (but only after the Blackburn students asked the school).

Tony and John Koutsonikolas' $125,000 question, 6 March 2010 (used the 50:50 lifeline on the question)

$125,000 (12 of 15) - no time limit
Which of these painters in considered part of the Post-Impressionist movement?
• A: Monet • B: Van Gogh
• C: Dali • D: Renoir

Tony and John Koutsonikolas' $250,000 question

$250,000 (13 of 15) - no time limit
Including Kevin Rudd, how many men have been Australian prime minister?
• A: 25 • B: 26
• C: 27 • D: 28

The boys chose not to answer, and left with $125,000, not wanting to risk $93,000.

Original Who Wants to be a Millionaire? 2000-2006 payout structure[edit]

Payout structure
Question number Question value
(Yellow zones are the guaranteed levels)
1 $100
2 $200
3 $300
4 $500
5 $1,000
6 $2,000
7 $4,000
8 $8,000
9 $16,000
10 $32,000
11 $64,000
12 $125,000
13 $250,000
14 $500,000
15 $1,000,000

Hot Seat (2009 format)[edit]

An abbreviated format of the show, Millionaire Hot Seat began production in 2009. Like the original Millionaire, it is hosted by Eddie McGuire. Airing daily at 5:00pm, it is currently in its seventh season.

Notable contestants[edit]



To date there have only been 3 millionaires, two on the regular version and 1 on Millionaire Hot Seat:

$1 million (15 of 15) - no time limit
Which of these popular 60s TV shows premiered first?
• A: Bewitched • B: Get Smart
• C: Hogan's Heroes • D: I Dream of Jeannie
  • Martin Flood: 14 November 2005 (Used the 50-50 lifeline in the final question)[15]
$1 million (15 of 15) - no time limit
Who was never 'Time' magazine's 'Man of the Year'?
• A: Adolf Hitler • B: Ayatollah Khomeini
• C: Joseph Stalin • D: Mao Zedong
  • Edwin Daly: 29 August 2016 (Third Australian Millionaire since Martin Flood won it in 2005, and the first on the Hot Seat version)
$1 million (15 of 15) - 45 Seconds
Commonly known by his nickname, what was the full name of ‘Banjo’ Paterson?
• A: Albert Burke • B: Andrew Barton
• C: Adam Beaufort • D: Adrian Banks

$1 million question incorrect[edit]

To date only seven people have got the million dollar question wrong, all on Millionaire Hot Seat:

  • Barry Soraghan: 8 June 2009
$1 million (15 of 15) - 45 seconds
Which of Hollywood's four Warner Brothers died on the eve of their landmark premiere of 'The Jazz Singer'?
• A: Albert • B: Harry
• C: Jack • D: Sam
  • Jeff Tarr: 28 September 2009
$1 million (15 of 15) - 45 seconds
Horowitz is the original surname of which American actor?
• A: Matt Damon • B: Johnny Depp
• C: Julia Roberts • D: Winona Ryder
  • Paul Wolfenden: 14 June 2010
$1 million (15 of 15) - 45 seconds
Famous for his Chinese Theatre, Sid Grauman had earlier opened which other Hollywood theatre in 1922?
• A: French • B: Egyptian
• C: Roman • D: Arabian
  • Jim Graham: 20 June 2011
$1 million (15 of 15) - 45 seconds
On the current flag of the United Nations, which country is shown closest to the top of the flag?
• A: New Zealand • B: Norway
• C: Chile • D: Iceland
  • Alan Edwards: 16 April 2012
$1 million (15 of 15) - 45 seconds
In 1935, which of these countries became the first to use an image of the future Queen Elizabeth on a bank note?
• A: Australia • B: New Zealand
• C: England • D: Canada
  • Kevin Short: 13 May 2013
$1 million (15 of 15) - 45 seconds
Which of these Gilbert & Sullivan operettas was performed first?
• A: The Gondoliers • B: The Pirates of Penzance
• C: The Mikado • D: The Yeomen of the Guard
  • Craig Anderson: 1 October 2018
$1 million (15 of 15) - 45 seconds
How many essential vitamins make up what is known as the 'B-complex'?
• A: 6 • B: 8
• C: 10 • D: 13

$500,000 question incorrect[edit]

  • Red Symons: 17 July 2000
$500,000 (14 of 15) - no time limit
In which field did 16th century Italian Benvenuto Cellini achieve fame?
• A: Painting • B: Architecture
• C: Music • D: Sculpture
  • Mickey Pragnell: 2004 [16]
$500,000 (14 of 15) - no time limit
How many milligrams in a metric carat?
• A: 100 • B: 200
• C: 300 • D: 400

$250,000 question incorrect[edit]

  • Stephen ?: 20 April 1999[17]
  • Michael O’Conner: 12 November 2007[18]
$250,000 (13 of 16) - no time limit
Which breed of dairy cow produces most of Australia’s milk?
• A: Brown Swiss • B: Guernsey
• C: Holstein Friesian • D: Jersey

$500,000 winners[edit]

  • Trevor Sauer: 4 September 2000↑
$1 million (15 of 15) – No time limit
Who was the first to win two unshared Nobel Prizes?
• A: Marie Curie • B: Ivan Pavlov
• C: Linus Pauling • D: Albert Schweitzer
  • William Laing: 16 October 2000↑
$1 million (15 of 15) – No time limit
How many humans have set foot on the moon?
• A: 10 • B: 12
• C: 14 • D: 16
  • Dave and Denise Moser: June 4, 2001 (Used the 50-50 and Phone a Friend lifelines in the final question)[19]
$1 million (15 of 15) – No time limit
What was the original name of Dorothea Mackellar’s poem ‘My Country’?
• A: The Wide Brown Land • B: ‘Tis my home
• C: A Sunburnt Country • D: Core of my heart
  • Maria McCabe: 8 April 2002 (Used the 50-50 and Ask the Audience lifelines in the final question)↑
$1 million (15 of 15) – No time limit
Which of the following is not one of Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tale' tellers?
• A: The Clerk • B: The Hunter
• C: The Summoner • D: The Cook
$1 million (15 of 15) – No time limit
Mocha, a choice variety of coffee, takes its name from a seaport in which country?
• A: Somalia • B: Yemen
• C: Oman • D: Djibouti
  • Andrew Lockett: 8 September 2003 (Used the Phone a Friend lifeline in the final question)
$1 million (15 of 15) – No time limit
There have been how many Dalai Lamas?
• A: 13 • B: 14
• C: 15 • D: 16
  • Scott Smith: 4 October 2004
$1 million (15 of 15) – No time limit
Which saint founded the Italian hilltop monastery of Monte Cassino?
• A: Benedict • B: Bernard
• C: Bonaventure • D: Boniface
  • Shane Warne and Trevor Sauer: 14 February 2005 (Used the Phone a Friend lifeline in the final question)
$1 million (15 of 15) – No time limit
Which song was the first of a string of No.1 US hits for the Supremes?
• A: Baby Love • B: Stop! In The Name of Love
• C: Where Did Our Love Go • D: You Can't Hurry Love
  • Clifford Plumpton: 27 June 2005
$1 million (15 of 15) – No time limit
Which great filmmaker has won the most Best Director Oscars?
• A: Frank Capra • B: John Ford
• C: David Lean • D: Billy Wilder
  • Yael Blinco: 21 November 2005 ("Mummy Wants To Be A Millionaire" special)
$1 million (15 of 15) – No time limit
Registering 9.5 on the Richter scale, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded struck where?
• A: Alaska • B: Chile
• C: China • D: Siberia

↑ Would have won $1,000,000 had they chosen to answer the question.

$250,000 winners[edit]

$500,000 (10 of 11) – No time limit
In which of the sciences did Australian Sir T. W. Edgeworth David specialize?
• A: Geology • B: ?
• C: Chemistry • D: ?

Spooner chose not to answer, winning $250,000.

  • Brett McDonald: 3 July 2000[21]
$500,000 (14 of 15) – No time limit
In area, which is the largest South American country wholly above the equator?
• A: Colombia • B: Ecuador
• C: Peru • D: Venezuela

McDonald chose not to answer, winning $250,000. (He died in a car crash five months later after his appearance)

  • Rob & Loretta Valenda: 12 March 2001
$500,000 (14 of 15) – No time limit
Chicago mayor Anton Cermak was killed in the assassination attempt on which US president-elect?
• A: Theodore Roosevelt • B: Woodrow Wilson
• C: Franklin Roosevelt • D: Harry Truman

The Valendas chose not to answer, winning $250,000.

  • Bruce Mump: November 2001
  • Christopher Fare: 13 May 2002
$500,000 (14 of 15) – No time limit
Which Australian novelist won the inaugural Miles Franklin Award?
• A: Alan Marshall • B: Thomas Keneally
• C: Nevil Shute • D: Patrick White

Fare chose not to answer, winning $250,000, but had he been brave enough, could have played for the million.

$500,000 (14 of 15) – No time limit
In which year did Britain and its colonies adopt the Gregorian calendar?
• A: 1552 • B: 1652
• C: 1752 • D: 1852

Copland chose not to answer, winning $250,000, but had he been brave enough, could have played for the million.

  • Tony Barber: 12 August 2002 (live "Battle of the Game Show Hosts" celebrity special)
$500,000 (14 of 15) – No time limit
Who was the first Australian-born winner of the Nobel Prize?
• A: Macfarlane Burnet • B: Howard Florey
• C: Lawrence Bragg • D: John Cornforth

Barber chose not to answer, winning $250,000.

  • Jonathan Evans: 26 May 2003
$500,000 (14 of 15) – No time limit
A decisive defeat for Napoleon, and also called the Battle of the Nations, was 1813's Battle of what?
• A: Leipzig • B: Austerlitz
• C: Marengo • D: Friedland

Evans chose not to answer, winning $250,000, but had he been brave enough, could have played for the million.

  • Tim Serisier: 2 June 2003
$500,000 (14 of 15) – No time limit
In 1859 the world's first successful oil well was drilled near Titusville, in which US state?
• A: Pennsylvania • B: Kentucky
• C: Ohio • D: Illinois

Serisier chose not to answer, winning $250,000, but had he been brave enough, could have played for the million.

  • David Morgan: 8 March 2004
$500,000 (14 of 15) – No time limit
Mercury orbits the sun once every how many earth-days?
• A: 58 • B: 68
• C: 78 • D: 88

Morgan chose not to answer, winning $250,000, but had he been brave enough, could have played for the million.

  • Rowan McGillicuddy: 28 June 2004
$500,000 (14 of 15) – No time limit
In which year was the Archibald Prize first awarded?
• A: 1916 • B: 1921
• C: 1926 • D: 1931
  • Alan Tomlinson: 13 September 2004
$500,000 (14 of 15) – No time limit
Which term describes a perfect diamond weighing 100 carats or more?
• A: Classic • B: Exemplar
• C: Acme • D: Paragon
  • Kay Balzer: 2004
  • Pauline Hanson and Christopher Fare: 14 February 2005
  • Christopher Connolly: 5 September 2005
  • Henry Kiss: 26 November 2007 (final ever show featuring the normal format)
$500,000 (14 of 16) – No time limit
The Schick test establishes if a person has immunity to which disease?
• A: Tuberculosis • B: Cholera
• C: Polio • D: Diphtheria

Kiss chose not to answer, winning $250,000.

Controversies and other notable events[edit]

  • In 2000, Richard Hatch became the first contestant in the Australian version to win nothing by bombing on his 4th question (see above). He was also the first, and so far only recorded case, of a celebrity contestant of the worldwide Millionaire franchise to win nothing.
  • Paddy Spooner, who won $250,000 in 1999, also appeared on the British version of the show, also winning the same amount in pounds in 2000.

He was later the subject of an article in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo. The article stated that a syndicate, understood to have been run by quiz buff Paddy Spooner, aimed to exploit the selection procedure and increase the chances of beating 100,000 others in the race to appear on the show. The Chronicle & Echo had learned the syndicate accused of fast-tracking contestants on to the show managed to get hold of tie-breaker style questions likely to be used on phone lines rung by members of the public. Potential contestants were then told possible answers in return for a percentage of any future cash winnings.[22]

Martin Flood cheating allegation[edit]

In November 2005, Martin Flood became the show's second jackpot winner. However, it was alleged that he may have cheated in his first appearance of the show (similar to that of British cheat Charles Ingram); a suggestion Flood himself was unaware of until his jackpot win in the following episode. This investigation by A Current Affair helped to boost the ratings for the episode of his top prize win; however, after this, Flood was cleared by the Nine Network of any wrongdoing.


On 27 October 2004, a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? interactive multiplayer DVD game was released.[23] Also a picture edition was also released offering the choice of either adult and junior questions.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Knox, David (4 May 2019). "Eddie celebrates 20 years of Millionaire". TV Tonight. Archived from the original on 4 May 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  2. ^ Warneke, Ross (23 June 2004). "No big Deal for Nine". The Age. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  3. ^ "Why Nine called Eddie". Crikey. 9 June 2004. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  4. ^ Aussies tune in to cheat, The Age, 22 April 2003
  5. ^ Hogan, Jesse (9 February 2006). "McGuire CEO show live on air". The Age. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  6. ^ "Gyngell resigns from Nine". APP. The Age. 9 May 2005. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  7. ^ Fidgeon, Robert (12 April 2006). "Millionaire host – you decide". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 25 June 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  8. ^ Gibson, Joel (4 April 2006). "No McGuire, no Millionaire". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 25 June 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  9. ^ Harrison, Dan (18 May 2007). "'I wasn't given the flick'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  10. ^ "Eddie's quiz 'boned' by Nine". The Courier-Mail. 29 September 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  11. ^ Connolly, Fiona (20 August 2007). "Temptation axed for McGuire". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  12. ^ "David Gyngell to run Nine again". The Daily Telegraph. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  13. ^ "Nine boss David Gyngell puts Eddie McGuire to work". Herald Sun. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  14. ^ "Our first quiz show millionaire". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 October 2005. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  15. ^ "Second Aussie 'Millionaire' winner emerges". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 November 2005. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  16. ^ Lock in 'I am in idiot' - TV & Radio - Entertainment - theage.com.au
  17. ^ Season 1 list
  18. ^ 12 November 2007
  19. ^ Million Dollar History
  20. ^ http://www.notelay.com/articles/people/paddy_spooner_wins_250000/
  21. ^ http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=1983&vf=1
  22. ^ "Millionaire syndicate is probed". northamptonchron.co.uk. 23 April 2003. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  23. ^ "DVD details". Sanity. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2007.

External links[edit]