10 of the most embarrassing moments from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

10 of the most embarrassing moments from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Quiz is the TV event of the year (well, excluding the ones which involve tigers and conspiracy to murder...) And the show's popularity is making a lot of people feel nostalgic for their memories of ITV's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Quiz explores one of the greatest scandals in British TV: when former army major Charles Ingram cheated to win the top prize on the incredibly popular game show in 2001. The dramatisation of the events that surrounded that episode features Matthew Macfadyen as Ingram, while Michael Sheen plays the shows host Chris Tarrant, complete with his odd quirks and phrases.

This trip down memory lane has led to lots of reminiscing about huddling around the television at your grandparent's house and arguing about whether the contestant currently playing should have held onto the "ask the audience" option until later in the game.

To see someone reach the Holy Grail that was the million-pound question was a rare occurrence, but there were always plenty of gaffes, cringe and embarrassing moments from all over the world that have lived on in our minds.

Here are some of our favourites...

Host, Jeremy Clarkson gets a question wrong

The first incarnation of the British version of the show astonishingly ran from 1998 until 2014 and at its peak was watched by more than 19 million people in the UK. To mark the 20 anniversary of it's debut on our screens the quiz was revived in 2018, with Jeremy Clarkson replacing Tarrant as the host. Unfortunately for Clarkson, he wasn't as popular as his predecessor and even managed to tell a contestant that he got a question correct, when he had actually got the question wrong, which must have been infuriating for that man.

The awkward waves

The get into the hot seat on WWTBAM? contestants had to first win the fastest finger round (more on that later) and even if they didn't pass that the would at least get a second in the limelight as Tarrant read out their names and they were given a brief moment to wave at the camera. Some people took this opportunity to make a real claim for fame as TV producer Jake Graham showed in a hilarious Twitter thread.

Man gets the very first question wrong

Just getting into the hot seat is an achievement but once there, it is often presumed that most contestants would get through at least the first five questions, as they are traditionally very easy. This wasn't the case for Brenton Andreasik, who despite his confidence, managed to slip up on the very first question in the US version of the quiz.

Whenever someone was surprised to be a "phone a friend"

Lifelines were a huge part of WWTBAM? Contestants would be able to use three throughout their time on the show but only once, so they had to choose them wisely. The options were "ask the audience","50-50" and "phone a friend" which was probably the most entertaining of the three. Sometimes the friend or family member would know the question straight away or others would be useless and couldn't assist in the slightest. However, almost every time Tarrant rang up the other person, they would, almost without fail, always be surprised, to the point where it got quite annoying, as this montage proves.

The animated Chris Tarrant

If you weren't quite good enough to get onto the show, you could always try your luck at home. Board games and interactive DVD's (remember those?) were made of the show and there was even a Playstation game. However, if you opted for the latter, you had to make yourself familiar with the animated Chris Tarrant which was pure nightmare material.

Contestant struggles to answer the question "Where is The Great Wall of China?"

Although we said that the first few questions on the show were generally easy, there were never any trick questions. For some reason, a woman on the Turkish version of the quiz clearly thought that the no-brainer question 'Where is the Great Wall of China?' was a trick and wasted two lifelines trying to get it right, which she eventually did but wow...


WWTBAM? could be a cruel mistress too and the slightest slip of the tongue could plunge anyone into jeopardy. Take for example this man on the US version in 2013, who had practically had the answer spelled out to him and even knew it, but managed to submit the wrong answer after saying the hallowed words of "final answer". Oh, dear...

Everyone gets the fastest finger question wrong

Remember when we mentioned the fastest finger round earlier? Well, this would involve every potential contestant participating in one question where they had just a few seconds to put in order the four answers in order depending on the question. Whoever got it right would go on to play the game. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it would be if everyone knew the answer to the question. It didn't always play out like that, as proven here.

ITV gets Michael Sheen's name wrong

Just to prove that mistakes can happen on WWTBAM? when it isn't even a real quiz show, Michael Sheen was forced to call out the production team on the ITV drama, after they managed to confuse him with the legendary Hollywood actor, Martin Sheen. In fairness, their names are very familiar but come on, he's literally right there in front of you...

Major Charles Ingram

How could Ingram not be the most embarrassing moment on this list? Just looking back, it's quite astonishing that he managed to get away with it in the first place. Ingram, who never received the money, was accused of having assistance from one of the waiting contestants, Tecwen Whittock, who would cough whenever Ingram read out the correct answer on a question he was struggling with. During Ingram's trial 192 coughs were recorded during the second night of his appearance and at least 32 of those came from Whittock, who later claimed that he had suffered from a persistent cough for his entire life.

The most glaring example of the cough was on the million-pound question which was "a number followed by one hundred zeros is known by what name?" Ingram, clearly not knowing the answer, managed to correctly decipher it but the coughing was very noticeable.

Even before that, we should have all known that something was up as Ingram confessed to having not heard of Craig David or Coldplay!

Let's not end on a down note and remember this iconic flex from a man on the US version, who rang his Dad up to tell him that he was bout to win one million dollars, which he promptly did.

Now, that's how you become a millionaire with a real flourish.

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