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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Quiz show recalls 50s scandal
Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes played Charles van Doren
The Who Wants to be a Millionaire? case is not the first attempt to fix a TV quiz show with a big money prize.

The 1994 movie Quiz Show, starring Ralph Fiennes, brought the 1950s scandal of the US show Twenty One into the limelight.

In 1958 Jewish contestant Herbert Stempel had a winning streak on the top-rating NBC show.

But producers wanted to get rid of him, fearing for ratings, and put up a stooge to beat him, Columbia University professor Charles van Doren.

Mr Stempel refused to lose intentionally, so the show was eventually fixed for van Doran to win.

Initially, when Mr Stempel tried to report what was going on, no one believed him because he had no corroborative evidence.

But eventually it became clear that van Doren had been given the answers in advance.

At first he denied it, but eventually confessed that he had been primed before the show.

Van Doren lost his teaching job as a college professor and never taught again - and the show was dropped.

Audiences realised they could no longer rely on what they saw.


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