Lose a Million



Chris Tarrant


Voiceover: Honor Blackman


Action Time for Carlton (shown on ITV), 22 September to 1 December 1993 (13 episodes in 1 series)


The only game show where you won by getting the questions wrong, three contestants were invited to attempt to lose a (fictional) £1million in prizes in order to win £5,000. The set was themed to be a luxurious ocean liner in the 1920s Art Deco mould, but the effect wasn't terribly convincing.

The only catch to the first and third rounds was that you couldn't just say anything, you couldn't answer 'sausages' to a question with 'John Lennon' as the answer.

In round two, contestants had to answer ten questions correctly but in the wrong order - giving the correct answer to the question before. Example:

Tarrant: What is your name?
Contestant: (says nothing)
Tarrant: Which ageing celebrity is said to collect toads and has random orgies with jellyfish?
Contestant: (says their name)

...and so on. Correct responses meant you were given the chance to lose or give one of your prizes to another player. Four of these would be worth a lot of money, but one would be a trick and worth about 10p. Examples included a drawing drawn by the producer's son, but made to look good in the photograph.

At the end of round three, the person with the least amount of money went through to the final (pictured).

The end game board

There were six celebrities, five of which were wrong and one correct, relating to a statement read by the ever-jovial Chris Tarrant. If the player could eliminate the five wrong answers, by placing £200,000 of pretend money on a little truck thing which ran down the table and (hopefully) exploding, they'd win £5000. Super.

Key moments

Any question from the second round which inevitably had "Chris Tarrant" as the correct response.


Devised by Andrew O'Connor, Toby Freeman and Stephen Leahy.

Theme music

Composed by the ubiquitous Simon Etchell.


Ironically, Chris Tarrant went on to present Who Wants to be a Millionaire, a show all about winning (not losing) a million quid. Not only was the principle the exact opposite, but the ratings were too. WWTBAM was commissioned for a further EIGHT series on the strength of 20+ million viewers during series 1.

Bizarrely, this show was deemed iconic enough to be worthy of a clip turning up in ace Brit comedy thriller Shallow Grave. Some sort of ironic comment on the main plot, perhaps... or maybe Danny Boyle just really liked the show. After all, he did go on to make the heavily WWTBAM-inspired Slumdog Millionaire.


Publicity photo of Chris Tarrant getting arrested - but aren't those traffic police?
Publicity photo for Lose a Million.


Part 1 of an episode from the show.


To correct something on this page or post an addition, please complete this form and press "Send":
If you are asking us a question, please read our contact us page and FAQ first.

Name: E-mail:   
A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in