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My million ire; It was all too easy for posh winner.

Byline: Tom Brown

WHO Wants To Be A Millionaire? was always a trick question. Chris Tarrant's sadistic quiz show should be retitled Who Would Like ANOTHER Million? or Who Can Afford To Gamble Half-a-Million?

Judith Keppel's jackpot win exposed the truth about the most cynical show on TV. She won because a million quid didn't mean as much to her as it would to the rest of us.

Well-heeled, ultra-posh Judith Keppel (Camilla's cousin, for Gawd's sake!) is NOT the kind of person we all wanted to win - but she is exactly the type the show is programmed to produce.

We wanted the first telly millionaire to be a rags-to-riches story. A single parent, an unemployed bloke, a struggling student whose life would be changed forever with a little luck, some sweat and a lot of intelligence.

But snooty Judith was so damned cool and couldn't-care-less, it took all the excitement out of what should have been one of TV's historic moments.

While Tarrant desperately tried to whip up some excitement, she was Lady Disdain.

As the zeroes were added to the cheques that Tarrant flashed in front of our eyes, all she uttered was a ladylike 'Gosh!' and 'Wow!'

When she stuck the big one in her bra, she said she was "not exactly on the breadline" and the million would come in "extremely handy". Extremely handy!

Dammit, if you win a million you should be gibbering. You might even pass out with excitement. Have a heart attack. At least stick up two fingers to the boss, the bank manager and the obnoxious neighbours.

Now we know why Judith was so cool - an ex-debutante with a pounds 500,000 home in Fulham, two well-heeled ex-husbands, seriously rich relatives, one of whom left her a six-figure bequest and four valuable paintings, who could afford to run up a pounds 1000 phone bill just to get on the show.

We can all understand Coronation Street's current celebrations that Jack Duckworth's pounds 60,000 accumulator came up. That kind of money can change the lives of ordinary families.

And that is why "garden designer" Judith Keppel is the first TV quiz millionaire. Only somebody with enough money already could take such a gamble. Other contestants bottled it at quarter-of-a-million and half-a-million.

Celandor have a number of tricky questions to answer: Why was the million won on the very night when ITV were due to take a ratings drubbing against the death of Victor Meldrew? And, for the really big money: Do they have a formula that tells them in advance the contestants' areas of knowledge?

The qualifying question on Monday night was about British Prime Ministers of the 50s and 60s. A woman who could put them in order in double-quick time is also likely to know the kings and queens of England.

A woman of a certain age - who can actually remember Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home (in that order) - is less likely to know about sport or pop. Judith Keppel, 58, wasn't asked who are the current European champions or the title of the Spice Girls' movie. Funny that...

In case you think this is sour grapes, I freely admit I got the pounds 64,000 question wrong. I thought Duffel was Dutch, but I knew the rest, especially the pounds 1million answer, because I saw the film Lion in Winter.

Mind you, if Chris Tarrant asked me my name for a million quid, my mind would go blank.

That's the big difference between me, you and Judith Keppel. We're still trying for our FIRST million.

Rear guard ..

ANENT (another good Scots word) my item about Billy Kay's radio programme on keeping the Scots language alive.

Billy tells me of a schools programme he did called Haud Yer Tongue, when children were asked to use their favourite Scots word. One wee boy stopped the show with: "Ma word is bahookie. Ah gae tae Ayr ice rink every Setterday mornin' an' I aye faw on ma bahookie."

Making up is hard to do, Mike

THOSE wedding pictures show that Michael Douglas has discovered the secret of eternal youth. Marry a much younger woman - and get a damned good make-up artist.

I swear Michael doesn't look a day older than he did decades ago. That non-grey hair, the wrinkle-free babyish complexion, the sparkling eyes. He doesn't look a day older than Catherine Zeta, who's 25 years his junior. Unfortunately, Michael, the give-away is in your rosy cheeks. Just a touch too much rouge. It makes you look like Dracula about to sink your fangs in the young girl's throat.

Those wedding snaps are worth a fortune. If your make-up artist can turn the clock back like that, it prolongs your life as a romantic lead.

Feathered friends are fair game

THERE was a time when ordinary people stretched the necks of Royals.

Now the hoi-polloi are in a tizz because the Queen has put a pheasant out of its misery by throttling it.

Why the fuss over such a humane act? My granny could take a chicken in either hand and dispatch them painlessly with a quick flick of both wrists.

If they think pheasant-pluckers are cruel, what do bird-lovers think goes on in poultry factories? Do they believe that chickens are sent to sleep with lullabies?

Meanwhile, the Deerhound Coursing Club has told the Scottish Parliament's rural affairs committee that a ban on hunting with dogs would threaten the future of the only native breed of hunting dogs.

Since hunting down Bambi has been banned and hare-coursing may soon be, the Scottish deerhound may die of boredom.

No problem. Turn them loose on a new urban sport - hunting (ugh!) CATS. I'll even suggest which street they should start in ...

Rory is the new leader

WHAT'S got into Rory Bremner? His latest programme, My Government And I, showed he has gone from satire to savagery.

His bitter attack on Tony Blair and the Labour government was so nasty it wasn't funny.

On the tenth anniversary of Maggie Thatcher's downfall, let's just remember the alternative. The Tories would still switch money from the NHS to their pals in private insurance, subsidise private schools and handicap State education and isolate us from Europe.

No-one takes William Hague seriously. Now Rory Bremner seems to have appointed himself leader of the opposition - and he's more dangerous.
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Title Annotation:Tom Brown Page
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 23, 2000
Previous Article:Learner of the Week.
Next Article:Up for the challenge.

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