Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? returns tonight at 9pm on ITV and continues nightly through to Sunday 6th January.
A brand new series of the ITV game show returns this evening with host Jeremy Clarkson. Over the next six nights contestants will have the opportunity to answer 15 questions to win £1,000,000.
They can be helped along the way with four lifelines ‘Ask The Audience’, ‘Phone A Friend’, ’50:50’ and ‘Ask The Host’ but will one lucky contestant start the New Year as a millionaire? Here the former Top Gear personality and regular columnist in The Sun talks about his return to host the biggest game show on ITV…
What’s your favourite memory from last series?
My favourite memory from last series was the sheer joy of hosting Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? I mean, everybody always says when they get a gig on television, oh I’m really interested in gardening / Africa etc. But I genuinely am interested in quiz shows. I’ve been an avid fan of Millionaire, and shows like BBC’s Pointless, for donkey’s years. I really am a fan. So just to walk out and think I’m hosting this show was by far the biggest highlight for me.
What have you done differently this series, if anything?
I’m told I’ve been nicer to the contestants, but last year there were some very stupid contestants who didn’t warrant any niceness [laughs]. This time they’ve been, by and large with one or two exceptions, sparky and on-it and bright and deserving of a place in the chair.
What can viewers expect from this series?
Well, I won’t give anything away but it opens with a super bright contestant. Some fabulous characters. You’re just left at the end thinking, people often talk about ‘The British’. The British think this, The British do that. But when you look at this show, you think aren’t we all very different. It goes for a young, tussled haired politics student who’s hilariously funny to a perfectly engaging religious studies teacher. It’s heaven.
Last series saw the introduction of new lifeline ‘Ask The Host’, how did you find having questions directed to you?
Last year, as people will remember very well, I was almost entirely useless. To a certain extent, I’ve continued that tradition this time out. Occasionally I accidently knew something, but not as often as I would have liked. It’s so annoying, because sometimes, you’ll get to the £125,000 question and you go, I know this. But they’ve already asked you and used the lifeline on something like the Kardashians that you don’t know.
Have you been doing any preparations / studying in anticipation of this series?
The only way that you can prepare for this show is to learn the Internet, and nobody can do that.
Other than motoring related questions, what would be your ideal question to answer as ‘Ask The Host’?
Which Genesis album… I’d be good at that. Or weirdly birds. British garden birds, well not even so much garden birds. Anything to do with birds. It’s one of those little things that not a lot of people know, I know not very much but I know a little bit about birds. I know a Ptarmigan from an Osprey, a yellowhammer from a reed warbler. I know how to tell a cold tit from a blue tit, which most people don’t know. But now I’ve said that, people will ask me bird questions and I won’t know the answer.
If you could have a celebrity in the hot seat, who would you have?
We were discussing this the other day, Richard Hammond and I were discussing him being in the chair. And if by some incredible miracle, actually he’s not that stupid Richard, he got to the £1,000,000 question, he didn’t know the answer and his only lifeline left was ‘Ask The Host’. He had to ask me and I gave him an answer. He’d have to work out a) if I really knew and b) if did know, if I’d given him the right answer. I can’t think of anything better than watching him, agonise through that – does he (Jeremy) know, and if he does know, is he (Jeremy) telling me the truth. Honestly, Richard Hammond on a million pounds, having to ask me for help.
If you were doing a pub quiz, which four celebrities would you have in your team?
Sadly, the greatest of the all would be AA Gill but he is sadly no longer with us but he would have been fantastic. Jonny Vaughan without question or shadow of a doubt, Boris Johnson, then I’d need some sporting person…Matt Dawson. And, someone like Richard Bacon.
If you could give contestants advice before they play, what would it be?
Speak up, I’m deaf… And it’s not what would I say, it’s what I have been saying to them.
Have Richard Hammond and James May, your Top Gear and Grand Tour co-stars given you any advice for this series?
No… Well they have actually, ‘get a f****** hearing aid. And glasses. Get a hearing aid and some glasses, you old idiot.’
If you could host any other show, what show would it be?