Tonight a special episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire will look back at the first contestant ever to win the top prize – Judith Keppel, who walked away with the £1million almost exactly 20 years ago.
Since that win, a further five quizzers have answered all 15 questions correctly, including history and politics teacher Donald Fear, who earlier in 2020 became the first person to win with Jeremy Clarkson as quizmaster.
Of course, famously there was another contestant who technically gave the right answer for each question: Charles Ingram, aka the Coughing Major, whose victory was rescinded after he was accused of relying on help from his sister and another quizzer on the show, a story that was dramatised earlier this year in the hit ITV drama Quiz (Ingram was ultimately Ingram was convicted on a single count of procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception).
We take a look back at each of the legitimate winners here, ahead of tonight’s programme. Plus, we’ve included each of their £1million questions below – could you answer them?
The hit quiz show began in 1998, but it was two years before someone won the top prize – and that person was former garden designer Judith Keppel, who walked away with the £1million on 20th November 2020 having apparently been “struggling for money” before her appearance on the show. Keppel has remained a familiar face to TV quiz enthusiasts ever since, having joined the cast of Eggheads back in 2003.
£1million question: Which King was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine?
- A) Henry I
- B) Henry II
- C) Richard I
- D) Henry V
It took only five months for a second millionaire on the show, with Welsh former physics teacher and 1990 Mastermind champion David Edwards answering all 15 questions correctly on 21st April 2001. Edwards used all three of his lifelines on one question – the £125,000 question – and used his son, who would later go on to win £125,000 himself on the show, as his phone-a-friend. After his victory, Edwards almost followed Keppel’s path onto Eggheads – competing in two series of Are You an Egghead? in 2008 and 2009, but he failed to win on either occasion.
£1million question: If you planted the seeds of Quercus robur, what would grow?
- A) Trees
- B) Flowers
- C) Vegetables
- D) Grain
The next contestant to win the prize was also in 2001, with Oxford-educated banker Robert Brydges becoming the third millionaire in the show’s history. The win came at an eventful time for the show – just 11 days after the Coughing Major scandal, and Brydges had coincidentally been in the audience during Charles Ingram’s appearance, reportedly one of the few people who had noticed something suspicious.
£1million question: Which scientific unit is named after an Italian nobleman?
- A) Pascal
- B) Ohm
- C) Volt
- D) Hertz
After Brydges’ win, there was a gap of almost three years until the next millionaire, with Irish world-champion quiz player Pat Gibson eventually ending the drought on 24th April 2004. Gibson is something of a stalwart in the quiz show world, having also won Mastermind in 2005 and Radio 4’s Brain of Britain in 2006. Like Edwards, Gibson competed in both the first and second series of Are You an Egghead? and beat his fellow millionaire in the 2009 final to become a member of the Eggheads team.
£1million question: Which of these is not one of the American Triple Crown horse races?
- A) Arlington Million
- B) Belmont Stakes
- C) Kentucky Derby
- D) Preakness Stakes
Perhaps no name has been more prominent in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire history than Ingram – and on 23rd September 2006 civil servant Ingram Wilcox became the fifth winner of the top prize and the final millionaire of the original series. Wilcox had previously been a losing finalist on a whole host of quiz shows, including Mastermind, Fifteen to One and Brain of Britain. He answered the final question correctly having already used all three of his lifelines.
£1million question: Which boxer was famous for striking the gong in the introduction to J Arthur Rank films?
- A) Bombardier Billy Wells
- B) Freddie Mills
- C) Terry Spinks
- D) Don Cockell
It was 14 years before another contestant became a millionaire – although it’s worth noting the show had been off the air between 2014 and 2018. History and politics teacher Donald Fear became the first winner of Jeremy Clarkson’s tenure as host earlier this year, walking away with the top prize on 11th September 2020. His win was all the more impressive for being the first contestant to win without using all available lifelines – in fact, he made use of only one, the 50:50 on the £32,000 question.
£1million question: In 1718, which pirate died in battle off the coast of what is now North Carolina?
- A) Calico Jack
- B) Blackbeard
- C) Bartholomew Roberts
- D) Captain Kidd
Judith Keppel – B) Henry II
David Edwards – A) Trees
Robert Brydges – C) Volt
Pat Gibson – A) Arlington Million
Ingram Wilcox – A) Bombardier Billy Wells
Donald Fear – D) Captain Kidd
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: The Million Pound Question airs tonight at 8pm on ITV. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide.