‘Doing millionaire’…. Tonight… and I’m petrified

Update Note Sept 09. Well it’s been a long time since (this blog was written in Jan 09) we recorded it, but the transmission date is now set and it’ll be shown on Tue 15 Sep if you want to watch.

I’m recording “Charity Who wants to be a millionaire” tonight. I thought I’d better blog it now as I’m not allowed to reveal the result afterwards until it’s on. I don’t yet know the transmission date, but I’ll put it in the weekly email when it’s time.

When I was asked to do the show and who i’d like to do it with, I instantly thought of Angela Rippon and she thankfully agreed to do it with me. Regular blog readers may remember I used to work with her when I started out, and she was wonderfully helpful (see Thanks Angela blog). She’s as competitive as I am, and seriously clever, so hopefully she’ll carry us through… we even spent an hour talking millionaire tactics the other day.

As a strategy we’ve decided until £50,000 just play safe, then if we’re lucky enough to get further, just go for it and take risks. At the moment though, sheer fear means I’m just hoping we get to a grand! The real worry of course is getting a money question wrong, something like “what’s the currency in Guatemala” that I wouldn’t have a clue about but people may think I should know.

I’m doing it for Citizens Advice Bureau

I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to play for the MoneySavingExpert Charity, so instead I’m doing it for Citizens Advice Bureau. I’m hoping to be able to gemmy in a call for people to seek debt help, plus it’s a great opportunity to let people know that CAB is actually a charity and needs funds. All of which I hope will have an effect on a big prime time entertainment show.

One interesting note, this is a proper “charity show”. Whereas some of the charity programmes out there pay large appearance fees, millionaire just gives a much smaller fee and automatically gives you the option that it’ll just go to your charity (which I took, as I suspect most people do).


We’re allowed five phone-a-friends each, and Angela and I decided the best way was to divvy up subjects and go for people with real expertise. Very kindly the following people have agreed to be mine. The rules state they must be at home between 7pm and 9.15pm on Thursday in case there’s a call.

  • Sue Charles (Music). Sue is currently BBC Wales weather presenter, but she used to be a senior music journalist on radio 1 and 2. We met and became friends when we did our postgrad in broadcast journalism together at Cardiff in 1997-8. When we were there, a team won the Radio 1 pop quiz, up through all the rounds and essentially everyone else in the team just sat there while sue answered every question – so she’s my music (and wales) pick.
  • Alastair Bruce-Ball (Sport). Another friend from my broadcast course at Cardiff. These days he’s a key football and golf commentator on five live, having presented sports bulletins for years. Even when we were on the course Ali was doing football radio commentary. Now I’m always gobsmacked by his descriptive prowess and radio imagery when doing something like the Ryder cup. So obviously he’s there for sport. BBC profile
  • Jason Solomons (Film). Jason’s the Observer & Guardian film critic and also works for Sky and Five News. A long time ago we worked together on Open House with Gloria Hunniford, but these days I know him more for being a colleague of the MSF’s at Five News. And to be honest, I’ve no doubt if the question’s on film, we’re sorted. Jason’s Guardian page
  • Richard Arnold. (TV & Soaps). Richard’s the unmistakable GMTV Telly specialist, and always a good laugh when waiting in the green room. There’s often a telly question on millionaire, and it’s easy to come a cropper as it’s a “do you watch or not?”, so who better to ask than a man who professionally watches everything?
  • Ron Voce (Owt Else). Ron and I went to Uni together, and these days he’s an IT consultant in Doha, but put plainly he’s just really hot at quizzes. When I was President of the LSE Students’ Union I was asked to put together a University Challenge team. So I ran a big contest which Ron won, and I was (from memory) team captain. The team got through all the heats and eventually the grand final, but sadly just lost out to Imperial Uni – not that surprising as most of the questions seemed to be science based. Ron also did ridiculously well at British University and Time Out National quiz contests, and used to supplement his student income by playing quiz machines. So he’s my “don’t know who to ask” specialist.

Angela’s five include David Mellor for politics and sport, she’s deciding which of a host of top news anchors will be our news person, and various other luminaries to cover theatre, science and more.

Cross your fingers!

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