In 1998, Capital FM breakfast programme presenter Chris Tarrant was asked to host a new game show on ITV. "Cash Mountain" had the largest cash prize in British television history, but might never have also become the world's most successful quiz, if it hadn't been retitled. Who wants to be a Millionaire? Pretty much everyone.
At its peak, the Saturday night stalwart was watched by one in three of the British population, but Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has gradually wound down operations to the occasional celebrity specials, and last year ITV announced that it would end for good following Tarrant's retirement. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Chris's Final Answer, was the last one and a chance to reflect on the phenomenon it once was.
You can keep your million quid, I'd rather get my hands on Tarrant's magical elixir of youth. The man hasn't aged a day in 15 years. Then again, the dim lighting in the Millionaire studio is rather flattering. This clip show saw Tarrant sat in his usual seat, introducing extracts with his usual delivery style, and so, sadly, it was too stiffly showbiz to offer any candid behind-the-scenes insight. Maybe in another 15 years?
It would have been fascinating, for instance, to hear what our host really made of Major Charles Ingram, the eccentric 2001 contestant whose cough-cough conspiracy led the way to a million pound win – swiftly followed by a conviction for deception. Or whether he personally found it less satisfying to watch the already-loaded banker Robert Brydges walk away with the jackpot. We did get to see some entertaining footage of Tarrant's equivalents in WWTBAM's various international versions. The Japanese host, Chris's favourite, speaks entirely in Japanese, save for barking a sharp "final ansah!" at apparently random intervals.
So that's it, then. No more chances for ordinary Britons to escape everyday drudgery by becoming instant millionaires.