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Quiz show makes a millionaire

LONDON, England -- A relative of Prince Charles' partner Camilla Parker Bowles has become the first contestant to scoop a 1 million ($1.42 million) jackpot on the British version of the hit quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Judith Keppel, 58, walked away with the top prize after a nail-biting round of questioning in the eighth British series of the show hosted by UK TV and radio personality Chris Tarrant.

Keppel is directly descended from Alice Keppel, mistress of Edward VII and great-grandmother of Camilla Parker Bowles, who is thought to be a distant cousin.

The garden designer from Fulham, south-west London, jumped for joy and was hugged and kissed by Tarrant when the show was filmed on Sunday night at studios in Elstree, 9km (15 miles) outside London.

The road to 1 million

Leaving her 500,000 ($700,000) home for a news conference on Monday she said: "I feel wonderful. I feel rich."

Versions of "Millionaire" are shown in 31 countries from Finland to South Africa and Venezuela to Malaysia, with 19 more productions at the planning stage.

In India it is titled "Who Will Become a Holder of 10 Million (rupees)? " in Russia it is known as "Oh Lucky Man!"

The format is strictly controlled and the same catchphrases: "Are you sure?" "Is that your final answer?" and "Can I phone a friend" are now heard around the world.

Despite its most celebrated appearance being the American ABC show hosted by Regis Philbin, the programme began in Britain and is the brainchild of a London firm, Celador Productions.

Cheque presentation
Tarrant hands over the cheque as Keppel's daughter looks on  

Although six millionaires have been created so far in the U.S., the record on the British show had stood at 500,000 -- won twice.

The record-breaking show was screened on Monday night on ITV at an important moment for the UK commercial channel in the ratings war -- a huge audience was watching rival BBC which was showing the last ever episode of a hit comedy, One Foot In The Grave. At the end of an episode of the show screened on Saturday, Keppel, who has three children and two grandchildren, had won 16,000 ($22,700) and still had two "lifelines" called 50-50 and Phone A Friend.

The most dramatic moment in her progress to 1 million when she was stumped by: "Prime Minister Tony Blair was born in which country? England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales?"

She used her "Ask the audience" lifeline and they voted by a slim majority -- 53 per cent -- for Scotland, leaving Keppel struggling to decide what to do.

She told Tarrant: "I just do not know what to do. I've always said to myself I would be risky up to 16,000 because would hate to lose 15,000. I think I will go for Scotland."

When the quizmaster -- famous for keeping contestants on tenterhooks -- reminded her that her winnings could drop to just 1,000, she replied: "One thousand pounds would be a nice Christmas. I'll risk it and go for Scotland."

That was, of course, the right answer.

While Keppel remained cool and collected at the news of her win the studio audience leapt to its feet with delight.

Her daughter burst into tears and rushed down the steps to embrace her, the new millionaire urged her not to cry.

Tarrant voiced his amazement at her calm, and Keppel replied: "I can't believe it that's why."

She then turned to her daughter and joked "What do you want for Christmas?" Adding: "I was very, very lucky with the questions."

Addressing the game show host she said: "You always said it's a matter of luck if you get questions you know. I felt like gambling - it was very peculiar."

Keppel's first husband was Mayfair, London art gallery owner Desmond Corcoran. She is now married to TV scriptwriter Neil Shand.


UK 'Millionare' site
ABC 'Millionaire' site
RTE 'Millionaire' site

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