Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: new lifeline and safety net rule revealed

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ITV is marking the 20th of anniversary of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? with a week of special episodes hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, but today we’ve learned that the Millionaire format has changed a little bit since we last saw Chris Tarrant hosting the show.

Some things remain the same: ‘fastest finger first’ selects a contestant from the potential six, and each contestant who gets to the main game must answer 15 questions correct to take home £1,000,000. The three iconic lifelines remain intact: Ask The Audience, Phone A Friend and 50:50.

Today we’ve learned that a brand new, fourth lifeline will be available to contestants as well: it’s called Ask The Host, and it enables the contestant to seek Jeremy Clarkson’s advice on the question. He doesn’t know the answers ahead of time, though, which means its a real lucky dip to see if he can help you out. Clarkson himself said this about the new lifeline:

“If the contestant chooses that lifeline [Ask The Host], they get to ask me if I know the answer. God help them. Anyone who doesn’t win £1,000,000 is bound, at some point, to ask me if I know the answer. And if it’s 1970’s prog rock music, I probably will. If it’s anything other than that, I probably won’t.”

The other thing that’s changing is the safety net rules. In the original format of the game, the first safety net was set at the £1,000 mark and the second one was at £32,000. If you reached either safety net, you got to take that much money home, even if you get a question wrong later on. In the new version of the game, the first safety net remains at £1000, but the contestant must choose for themselves where to put the next one. They can only deploy it once, and there’s no moving it after it’s deployed. Clarkson said this about the safety net rule changes:

“They can choose where it goes. So they choose how much they are going to lose at any given moment, which is a very clever idea. That requires balls of steel. To go beyond, say £32,000, when you’re going to drop back to £1,000 if you get it wrong. To say, ‘no I’ll set it at £64,000 and risk losing £63,000 if I get it wrong’, balls of steel.”

This changes should mix it up nicely, breathing fresh air into this iconic format. The extra lifeline could come in very handy for some people, but the risk-factor of setting your own second safety net adds a big new element of risk. Should be fun!

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? starts Saturday 5th May at 9.15pm on ITV and continues nightly thorough-out the week at 9pm.