?Millionaire? TV show up for sale | india | Hindustan Times
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?Millionaire? TV show up for sale

After handing out #45 million in prize money over eight years and making four contestants millionaires, Caledor, the production company behind Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, is selling off the rights to the highly popular television programme.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 04:45 IST
Vijay Dutt

After handing out £45 million in prize money over eight years and making four contestants millionaires, Caledor, the production company behind Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, is selling off the rights to the highly popular television programme. It is expected to put up the show for auction next week.

Watched by hundreds of millions since its launch in 1998, the show brought the catchphrases, "phone a friend", "ask the audience" and "is that your final answer" into everyday language. It has collected over 60 broadcasting awards worldwide, been shown in 105 countries and spawned charity and celebrity editions.

After making others rich, Caledor is now expected to earn a fortune for itself. One source said that the sale could fetch up to £150 million, making £22.5 million for comedian Jasper Carrott, one of the programme's original backers. He owns a 15 per cent stake in Celador.

The successful bidder will get the worldwide rights to the show, income from the lucrative board games, computer games, cell phone quizzes and a library of more than 400 shows broadcast on ITV.

But, the sale offer has raised some questions. Is it that after 412 episodes there's no one left in Britain who has not been a contestant? Or is eight years in the company of its host Chris Tarrant enough for everyone? Or has it run out of ideas and questions?

But many believe that the show, which once attracted 19 million viewers, and which earned Celador an estimated £35 million a year, is nearing the end of its life. It has just seven million viewers on Saturdays. But founder Paul Smith, chairman of Celador's parent company, Complete Communications Corporation, says, "It will still be showing around the world in 20 years. People feel naked if it is not there."