Millionaire is on this week

By | March 4, 2019

9pm on ITV and the trails indicate someone gets to see a million pound question.

I hope they’ve still got Ask the Host.

40 thoughts on “Millionaire is on this week

  1. Chris B

    I know you’re joking, but one of the non spoilery trailers was basically all about Ask the Host and how in the last series Jeremy started getting some answers right, and so it’s not a totally useless lifeline after all, honest.

    Another new show this week is Al Murray’s Great British Pub Quiz on Quest – Thursday at 10pm – although notably from the trailer it looks like Al Murray is not playing the pub landlord, but Shaun Williamson is playing a bartender…

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  2. David Howell

    Well between the game we got to open the last run and the game that’s getting pushed in this, it’s safe to say they’ve worked out that Millionaire being Nintendo Hard for budget-saving purposes is not, in fact, a good move. That was not remotely a given in an era of collapsing terrestrial TV ratings.

    I still hate Ask the Host just because to me it violates the “it is not enough for a game to be fair, it must be seen to be fair” credo I’ve seen Weaver advocate in the past. I would legitimately prepare my strategy for this as though I just had the traditional three lifelines, and if Jeremy Clarkson happens to a) know an answer and b) be willing to tell me it, bonus!

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    1. Brandon

      I think part of the reason Millionaire suddenly got much harder around 2009 could be put down to the fact that they stopped using the premium-rate phone number to get the contestants, instead using a conventional audition system which they had slowly been moving towards since 2005. That obviously hurt the budget, and could be one reason they used time limits on the questions in 2010-14. Another, often mentioned problem with Millionaire in that era is the fact that contestants didn’t take any risks. The 20th Anniversary series was hard too, but it suffered from a slightly different problem because too many contestants gambled on questions they didn’t know and left with £1000 ( I explained why I think that might be on a comment a few months ago.) Clarkson’s second series seemed to have fixed that problem, I’m surprised that ITV have done that considering that new Millionaire’s average viewing figures are around what it used to get at its very worst but only because TV ratings as a whole have gone down.

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  3. Kniwt

    Last night on Sunday Night Takeaway (only available via Dark Arts for now, it seems), they’ve even started playing In For A (um) Dollar. Beau Ryan does his best Mulhern impersonation. Short piece of it on their Twitter feed:
    https://twitter.com/TakeawayAU/status/1102141166265364480

    But it looks like they lost about one-quarter of their audience from last week (five-city metro only 290,000, against Married At First Sight with 1.45m):
    https://mumbrella.com.au/tens-sunday-night-takeaway-second-episode-sheds-93000-viewers-568048

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  4. Brekkie

    That just be the highest TV prize win in quite some time. Indeed has anyone won £1m since the last winner on Millionaire?

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    1. Brandon

      A few people did on Red or Black, but I think the entire country decided to wipe that from their collective memory. Whoever won the second series of PokerFace was after the last Millionaire top prize win, but that was 12 years ago now. Other than that, I don’t think so no.

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  5. Brandon

    What happened tonight was inevitable, had it been any other result it would have been prominently leaked ages ago.

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    1. Brandon

      I wonder what would have happened to the ratings if last night’s had been the last episode of a series, but they still put out that trailer showing someone gets to a million.

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    2. Tom H

      4.5m at 9:30, audience nearly halved in the final 15 minutes.

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          1. David Howell

            And that, right there, is why spoilers happen.

  6. James

    The issue around question difficulty and placement is still bugging me a bit. It got slightly better during the first run and second run, but there have been some all over the place in the first couple of episodes.

    Most quiz shows nowadays have either a question team or producers/editors, but it looks like Millionaire doesn’t. So I wonder who is setting the questions. The original show (at least in Series 1) had question setters but there isn’t a trace of anything question related in the credits for the revival, apart from a ‘Verifiers’ listing half way through. Would be interesting if anyone could shed a light.

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    1. Chris B

      I was on the first revival series last May, and was told by production staff that there is a team of specific question setters some of whom were on site during filming along side the verifiers.

      A friend of mine told me after I was on that they were mutual mates with one of the setters as they worked together on University Challenge. In terms of “difficulty” I was told that the questions are banded based on difficulty and prior questions, so I think for example an 8k question could also potentially be a 4k or a 16k. They’re all loaded in the system but I think shuffle about so two sports questions aren’t asked together, so potentially “harder” questions can be pulled out earlier and vice versa.

      I may have misrepresented a little considering I’m telling this third hand, but that’s the impression I got and the balance isn’t quite right.

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      1. Chris B

        Blah wrote that too quick. I meant to say banded by “reccomended” difficulty. Also meant to say they can be shuffled around should two questions around the same subject be asked – eg sport. It’s not sport specific, obvs

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      2. James

        Thanks Chris. I understand that they might not put the names of the question setters on TV for security reasons (?) but it still seems a little strange. It’s common place on most other quiz shows.

        The only reason I asked is because there’s a great insight into how how they complied the questions originally in this video (amongst other things) – https://youtu.be/ytoLAxIMRx8?t=1382 (start at 23:02). It seems that if they had maybe taken a leaf out of the original producer’s book it might be a little better.

        Also, I saw Brig’s tweet on the ‘question policy’ of the current producers – aiming it at a more pub quiz style question. Interesting but I’m not too sure I like it. When you compare the styles of questions on ‘The Chase’ or ‘Impossible’ for example, it seems a little dry. The questions could work a little harder.

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        1. David B

          The original series didn’t list question writers. The 12 question era did.

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          1. James

            They definitely did in the first couple of series, but I think they dropped it after that. I’ve found a couple of examples here (these are original recordings, not rebroadcast episodes from Challenge).

            https://youtu.be/vfwSFaKEYRo?t=1617 (Start at 26.57) – ‘Question Setters’ listed as Burns & Porter. This is from Series 1.

            https://youtu.be/2wPa2ogDBBU?t=2993 (Start at 49.53) – ‘Question Setters’ listed as Burns & Porter and Janet Crompton. This is from Series 2.

            To slightly answer my own original question, a company called ‘Inquizative Minds’ provides some kind of question support (according to their website at least). They’ve worked on a lot of quiz shows including The Chase and Tipping Point.

    2. David B

      When you’re considering difficulty, I think it does matter from what viewpoint you’re looking. Are you ranking them on how easy a quizzer would find them, or an everyday punter? Apart from the soft World Cup question, I thought the upper tier of the £500k run was pretty consistent with the original series, although there were questions in there that a regular quizzer would find easy, which proved to be the case.

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      1. David Howell

        And of course there’s the complexity of comparing difficulty between subjects – particularly for pop culture and sport. That Harry Kane question was a definite softball in my book, but I imagine a Judith Keppel type would have hated to see it come up at £64k just as much as she would have done at £8k where I’d have put it.

        The “classic quizzer staple” upper tier beyond that has two definite advantages: it makes it actually possible for the right contestant to go really deep into the game (look at what happened to both UK and US versions when that wasn’t the case, and realise why that’s necessary), and it likely still draws impressed reactions from the GP if those trivia nuggets feel suitably obscure from their perspective. Disadvantages are that the questions can be pretty dry and that the quizzer cognoscenti might be sniffy, as indeed happened on Monday night.

        The tricky thing is that IMO the show really needs a lot of variance – you need the upper tier to not be totally blocked, but you also need many and perhaps most contestants to never get that far. (I know the movable second milestone in the Clarkson era makes it awkward to talk about a five-question “upper tier” these days!) A quizzer-heavy straight question ethos might be optimal for that, and avoids a lot of the traps of trying anything else. I don’t know if it’s actually the best question-writing philosophy, but I’m pretty sure it’s the safest.

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  7. jon

    The question levelling and the quality of the questions is poor – they just feel dry and not that entertaining and a bit all over the show.

    The set and lights look nice… but the contestant’s on last nights episode were dull, dull, dull.
    You’ve have thought with a big primetime quiz they could have found better!

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    1. Alex McMillan

      I will say the contrast is stark when a question has a bit of ‘workoutability’ to it. The “Which country would you hit if you went south?” question from a few nights ago was a good example of this, asking Jeremy what he thought allowed for some actual conversation regarding the question, rather than just bouncing back and forth “Well I don’t know it”. More questions with this flexibility would be greatly appreciated.

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  8. James

    Thanks for your thoughts everyone. Really interesting to get different perspectives.

    For me, the upper level of questions should be a good mix of obscure knowledge, interesting facts and ‘workoutable’ questions.

    I think the difficulty of the questions should be standard for everyone, regardless of whether they’re a quizzer or a regular member of the public. I appreciate some people have better GK than others, but everyone has strong and weak subjects. For example the Spice Girls question from Wednesday’s show is pretty obscure, but a Spice Girls fan might get it right off the bat (or use all 4 lifelines like the guy last night). It’s should be the luck of the draw as to what questions you get. Then again, people like David B have a much better knowledge of setting quizzes than I do 🙂

    Alex McMillan makes a great point that for ‘Ask the Host’ to really work, the question needs to have some discussable material. And that’s one of the things that’s been missing really – the chat. I watched the German version followed by the UK version on Monday and the contrast was stark. The German version of Millionaire has some quite good discussions (not always within the questions) but they make it a bit more warm. Here, I think we don’t always get to know the contestant but it would be good if we did. Also on the German version, the questions are a much better level – and have a different quality at each tier (humorous, straight then insightful)

    Also one thing that still gripes me is the ‘set you safety net’ device. I think the jeopardy of dropping large amounts of cash in the later stages is lost. For example, if you’re going for £250k having set your safety net at £125k then the jeopardy is a lot smaller than the safety net being at £32k. You’ll obviously still get a rush from winning a quarter of a million, but not as big as it could be if you’re safety net was further down.

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    1. David Howell

      “For me, the upper level of questions should be a good mix of obscure knowledge, interesting facts and ‘workoutable’ questions.”

      I honestly wonder if the latter should be the staple at £64k/£125k, with the last 2-3 questions being more clearly “obscure facts.” That sets a distinction between the questions to get to six figures and the final run to the million, it means the questions we see more of are the interesting ones, and quite honestly second-guessing yourself on questions you actually know but are for Southern England House money is already going to happen and produce plenty enough televisual tension.

      Ask The Host definitely needs questions where you have an “in” on at least discussing, so the middle part of the game (where the vast majority of lifeline use happens) needs those questions.

      I do like the movable safety net, it adds a different element of risk management to the game. And the flipside of a higher safety net reducing the tension on the six-figure questions is that you suddenly have the potential for a crash from properly life-changing money all the way to £1k which never existed before. It basically changes the tension curve, if you like.

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      1. David B

        Re: moveable target, I agree with the benefits, but I’m not sure they outweigh the amount of management and time it requires after every question. I’d much prefer it if people could fix where to put it when they reach £1000.

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        1. James

          Fixing the second safety net when they reach £1000 is a good idea actually. I think when most people get into the life-changing money range (£125k and above) without setting their safety net, they’re more likely to walk away with what they’ve already won than risk an even greater drop. Also, I think I’m right in saying that most contestants are setting their safety net at either £16k/£32k/£64k. You very occasionally get the ones setting it at £125k.

          Again a good example here is on German Millionaire – if they choose the fourth lifeline, they lose the second safety net and the contestant’s fallback amount is €500. In this mode, most of the time when contestants get up to €32k (Q11) and beyond (unless they are a proper gambler or quizzer) they’ll bail rather than risking leaving with €500.

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  9. Chris B

    Some very quick times on Fastest Finger First tonight. One of the contestants was visually impaired, so Clarkson read the question out twice before time started and I think it didn’t come up on the screens for fairness. So although the times were quick, actually they’d had a bit of time to think about it before it started.

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    1. Thomas Sales

      Does anybody happen to know what the fastest ever fastest finger first time was? I’m sure I saw one for 0.98 seconds, but that could be my memory playing tricks on me.

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      1. David Howell

        There were some very fast times in the *very* first run, when it was a single-answer question rather than the sort-four style. I presume the 0.98, if it happened, came from that.

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        1. David B

          Yes, in series 1 there were people who just spammed one of the buttons randomly if they didn’t know, so sometimes you’d have times of 0.17 seconds or something crazy.

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          1. Thomas Sales

            The first two contestants, Graham Elwell and Rachel da Costa, both answered in 0.69 seconds, and I’ve not found evidence of any faster on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Wiki. The fastest put-4-in-order, according to the same site, was Jonathan Pash in 0.97 seconds, so I wasn’t far off.

          2. Brandon

            2 contestants from the first series claimed years later that they had won by holding down all the buttons when the time starts and claimed they were the reason it was changed for series 2. Celador rubbished the claims, saying it was changed to make it much harder to make a lucky guess

    2. Simon F

      I’m pretty sure Rachel (the visually impaired contestant) has been on Only Connect before as well IIRC.

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      1. David B

        And UC as well, where the picture rounds were replaced by text-based ‘visual’ questions that could be put on Braille cards.

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          1. Brandon

            I remember quite recently there was a deaf contestant on Mastermind who read their questions off a sort of Autocue thing.

  10. David Howell

    Well after last night’s episode I was genuinely surprised to still find the show’s Twitter account pinned an active contestant call implying they’re doing this again. Apparently this run didn’t break the budget.

    Will be interesting to see if they break the difficulty curve again after a run of huge wins straight out of the immediate pre-Keppel era (without the premium-rate contestant call or the ad revenue from getting ten million a night that era had, natch). I would imagine they cast for contestants who are very definitely Not Quizzers so they can save budget and probably get some bonus Jeremy snark to boot.

    Reply

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