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Watch: First Ever Episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire UK

Watch the first episode of Millionaire that ever aired. Take a look at how the show began and evolved.


First airing on September 4, 1998, ITV aired the debut episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? ever seen in the world. We all know the cultural phenomenon it would become and how it would change the television landscape. Thought to have been lost, Challenge TV (the UK equivalent of GSN) has found the four series of the show, airing from September 1998 to September 1999. The network recently started airing the classic episodes, starting with episode one. Take a look above and see what’s changed over time.

It’s obvious but the newness and excitement over what was about to happen was very evident. Nothing like this had been seen before and dollar values in the thousands which now get little to no reaction get tremendous applause. Breaking five figures, which again doesn’t elicit that big of a response, is given a big cheer. Everyone looks eager and excited and, even as a fan today, it does make you look back and enjoy the early days of the show when it was a spectacle that had to be watched.

You may notice some other minor rule or cosmetic changes throughout. Off the top you can see a Fastest Finger game not used in America, where all a player had to do was answer one question fastest. They aren’t very stringent on the “Final Answer” routine in these early episode. You also finally get the context of that million dollars that used to sit in front of the American Hot Seat: on the UK version it was presented as the “cash” that you’d take home if you won. They never carried that gimmick over to America. Different music like a new big money Final Answer effect can be found. Check out how they did Phone A Friend also, with a gigantic 90s cordless phone.

It’s a cool watch to see how the show started and what it’s become today. What do you think? By comparison here’s the last episode of the UK version below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cglr9RCmO0&w=420&h=315]

  • Devan Hurst

    Thanks for pointing out the final answer cue; I never had the patience to sit through the whole first episode, so I’d never heard that one before.