First UK TV Millionnaire
November 20, 2000 11:38 PM   Subscribe

First UK TV Millionnaire comes, by coincidence, on the same night that another network shows the last episode of its most popular sitcom, in which the main character dies.
Gosh what a coincidence! Or is it a fix?
posted by nico (11 comments total)
Probably not a coincidence. Probably not a fix. In the US, television stations air their most compelling content during the months of May and November. These are called "sweeps" months, when the viewing rates of individual programs are audited to determine the price that advertising time will sell for in the coming months. I can only assume that the UK is on a similar schedule. Well, actually, I COULD do more than assume (i.e. look it up) but it's late and I'm tired. :-)
posted by Optamystic at 1:17 AM on November 21, 2000

I was watching at the time(i suppose that's not the sort of thing you admit to, is it?) and the final question was definitely too easy(Which King was married to Eleanor of Acquitane? Henry I II IV or Richard II?). I think the people running the network wanted to make sure someone won, since it's been two years since they started, and no winner.
posted by dcodea at 1:35 AM on November 21, 2000

How could the winning of a million dollars on a game show detract from the ratings of a concurrently running show? It's not like they advertised beforehand "SOMEONE'S FINALLY GOING TO WIN THE MILLION DOLLARS!! TUNE IN!!" and even if you were channel-flipping from the sitcom to the gameshow, the actual victory would only have lasted a couple of minutes. The rest of the show would have been business as usual.

And the whole point (from a network standpoint) of sweeps is to get ratings up. You accomplish this by doing things like having celebrities on your program and advertising them in advance to trick people into watching because they want to see Puff Daddy answer questions or what have you. Letting someone win a million dollars is a nice surprise to the people who are already watching and possibly a bit of enticement/hype for other people to watch in the future, but does nothing to get more viewers for that show.

That's not to say it wasn't a fix, but it probably had nothing to do with boosting the ratings of that particular episode. Time is still linear, last I checked.
posted by frenetic at 2:33 AM on November 21, 2000

Actually it was general knowledge the day before, splashed all over the tabloids and television news - they can't really do anything to stop the audience of a pre-recorded programme mentioning the outcome to their friends and the newspapers.

The odd thing, if you ask me, was that this leak was seen as a good thing for ratings - surely Millionaire loses virtually all of its tension and interest if you know that a given contestant is going to answer every question correctly?
posted by Kevan at 2:40 AM on November 21, 2000

In that case, after two years without a winner, it's possible that everyone who ever watched the show would want to tune in just to see what it looks like to win the thing. People would still want to know if the questions were too easy or if they themselves might have answered them all correctly.
posted by xiffix at 5:58 AM on November 21, 2000

The first UK TV million pound prize was awarded on Chris Evan's TFI Friday show. And a very dull show it was too.
posted by dodgygeezer at 6:16 AM on November 21, 2000

On a slightly related topic: What a great episode of OFITG, I really loved it. Sad, yet hilarious... I don't believe it... :-)
posted by fvw at 6:34 AM on November 21, 2000

Optamystic, the UK TV industry is very different form the US one. For a start, two of the channels are publicly funded and don't show any adverts at all. We don't have sweeps either - which means that once a show has started on commercial TV it usually runs for a season; they pull the plug on unsuccessful shows when it comes to commissioning a new series.
posted by Mocata at 6:40 AM on November 21, 2000

We knew here before the first million-dollar-winner episode was shown. Everyone was being oh-so-coy in that just-watch-and-find-out way.
posted by dhartung at 10:27 AM on November 21, 2000

I knew I simply had read too much about British society/history when I immediately knew how the winner (Judith Keppel) was related to Camilla Parker Bowles. I'm American for Christ's sake! She should have been referred to as Ms. Keppel, however, unless she married someone who was also related to Alice Keppel, which would be mildly questionable.
posted by Annabel.Gill at 12:47 PM on November 21, 2000

Mocata...perhaps that explains why British Television produced Monty Python and Black Adder, and American Television is responsible for such classics as "Hello, Larry", and "Two Guys and a Girl".
posted by Optamystic at 12:49 PM on November 21, 2000

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