Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (abbreviated to WWTBAM and more commonly known as Millionaire) is a game show created by David Briggs, Steve Knight and Mike Whitehill, owned by Sony Pictures Television and broadcasted by the American Broadcasting Channel (ABC) and Game Show Network in the US. In the original UK version, it is produced by Celador (from 1998-2007), 2waytraffic (from 2007-2010), Sony Pictures' Victory Television (from 2011-2014) and Stellify Media (from 2018 onward) and broadcast on ITV and Challenge.
A contestant can win up to $1,000,000 if he or she answers 14 multiple choice questions correctly.
Along the way to hitting the $1,000,000 mark, they have three life-lines: Ask the Audience, which allows the audience to give the contestant their answer to the question; 50:50, which removes two incorrect answers, narrowing the choice down to a 50:50 shot; Phone-a-Friend, where the contestant calls the friend to see if they know the answer within 30 seconds, and Ask the Host, which the contestant asks the host to see what he thinks the answer is.
Contestants also have certain thresholds, and should they answer a question incorrectly, will be walking away with what the threshold amount is. (if it is the first five questions, they leave with nothing) However, contestants have the option to walk-away with whatever amount they have if they get stuck and want to play it safe.
Why It Rocks
- It revolutionized the way game shows should work with its use of lighting.
- Its music soundtrack is a perfect balance of action and suspense.
- The use of threshold questions doesn't make the show too punishing if one incorrectly answers a question.
- Speaking of #3, the questions offered to contestants makes the show fairly challenging.
- Iconic hosts such as the late Regis Philbin (who popularized the iconic phrase "Is that your final answer?"), Meredith Vieira and more recently, Chris Harrison, in the US, and Chris Tarrant and Jeremy Clarkson in the UK.
- When it first came out, it had the highest cash prize of any game show during the time.
- The show even had a few winners that won the $1,000,000.
- Contestants who had previously flunked out on the first five questions sometimes get a second chance in the US version.
- The new Jimmy Kimmel-hosted US reboot is amazing.
- The original episodes (the ones that first aired in Britain) can be slow at some points.
- Both the US and UK versions went downhill in later seasons; the US version needlessly introduced the Shuffle format from 2010 to 2015 and a new, less dramatic soundtrack, and the UK version introduced a time limit and a "rave" remix of the soundtrack. Both were abolished in the 2018 UK revival.
- One of the original lifelines was Phone-a-Friend, which allowed the contestant to have a conversation for 30 seconds to help them with the answer of a question.
- It was removed when executives found out that more and more people were using search engines (like Google) to look up the answers, and replaced it with the +1, until 2020.
- At one point in 2004, the game show had a top prize of $10,000,000 as part of a special.
- Out of the very few $1,000,000 winners the show had, the most famous was John Carpenter, who did not use any lifelines, save for the Phone-a-Friend lifeline, which he only used to tell his father that he was about to win $1,000,000.
- Another winner, Ed Toutant, won $1,860,000 after being invited back onto the show when the production team discovered that the $16,000 question on his previous run had mistakenly deemed the correct answer of "tomato" as incorrect (the $860,000 bonus was due to a rule at the time that added a $10,000 bonus to the prize money every time an episode finished without a millionaire).