A.� The incredible success of ITV's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is down to its ultimate prize. There had been nothing quite like it before Chris Tarrant's team brought the successful show to our screens. Before that, people could win �5,000 to �10,000, or a new car or caravan. Millionaire broke the rules, and the cash was easily found from the phonelines as people called to get on the show.
Q.� What's the most you can win on BBC
.A.� The BBC came under criticism for offering the largest cash prize in its history�on�The Weakest Link. The prize of �20,000 when it moved to its prime time slot on BBC One was approved by BBC controller Lorraine Heggessy, even though that is considerably smaller that what's on offer from some commercial stations. The BBC's own guidelines state: ' It's inappropriate to spend licence payers' money on prizes of excessive� value.' But there is no formal limit on what cash prizes or otherwise BBC�programmes can offer and controllers have the final say. The BBC said at the time of the controversy that it was extremely unlikely that anyone would ever win the entire prize on The Weakest Link..
Q.� How long have gameshows existed on television
A.. Television gameshows have been part of our culture since the dawn of the TV age Fifty years ago in America there were 15 game shows operating on the four different channels. Forty five years ago, Hal Moran predicted to Newsweek that no one would get the $64,000 question. In the UK, quiz shows have proved an enormously popular form of light entertainment. Current programmes include Wipeout with Bob Monkhouse, 15 to 1 with WIlliam G Stewart, 100 per cent with Robin Houstin, The Syndicate with Nick Ross, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, The Weakest Link, and University Challenge with Jeremy Paxman. Until recently, viewers could see five different quiz shows on a Monday.
Q.� How could you obtain tapes of former programmes such as Sale of the Century
A.� First be prepared to accept that quite possibly there is no recording of the programme. Video tape was quite expensive in the 60s and 70s and a lot of programmes were simply wiped. Get in touch with the production crew or broadcasters such as the BBC, Anglia TV or whoever, and approach them for help.
Q.� Who is the best quiz show host
A.� The website www. qwertyuiop.co.uk has produced a list has produced a top 10 of the most annoying game show hosts including:
Dave Benson Phillips
Ed Tudor Pike
Q.� What's the biggest scandal in gameshow history
A.� Remember the scandal in America in the 1950s when the brilliant Charles van Doren was found to have colluded in a fix it provided the base for the 1994 Robert Redford film Quiz Show. These days. it's a sign of the time that the world knew that science teacher David Edwards from a college in Staffordshire had won a million on Millionaire before it was broadcast. In the old Mastermind days (1972-1997), no newspaper anticpated the result even though journalists were automatically invited to the recordings of the finals.
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By Katharine MacColl