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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
From cult star to Millionaire man
Chris Tarrant
Millionaire is a hit worldwide
DJ and television presenter Chris Tarrant, who was made an OBE for his professional achievements, has announced a separation from his wife Ingrid.

The 59-year-old admitted he was to blame for the collapse of his second marriage, following media reports that accused him of having an affair.

The broadcaster is best known for hosting ITV1's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? quiz show.

On being made an OBE in the 2004 New Year Honours, he said he was "deeply honoured".

"I do what I do because I love it, but to be recognised for my work both professionally and privately is really humbling," he said.

'Face of the 1970s'

Tarrant found fame, and notoriety, on 1970s cult Saturday morning children's show Tiswas.

That came only after stints as a night security guard, a lawnmower deliverer, a bed salesman and a teacher - a "difficult time" in which he slept in a camper van outside the south London school at which he worked.

Tarrant got his first shot at television stardom after bombarding TV stations with letters which read: "I am the face of the 1970s and this is your last chance to snap me up."

Birmingham-based ITV firm ATV did just that - and he started work on its evening news show in the early 1970s, interviewing a string of eccentrics.

The anarchic children's show Tiswas followed in 1974, making him a cult figure as the show gradually went nationwide.

Breakfast hit

Tiswas ended in 1982 but it spawned a short-lived late-night spin-off called OTT - Over The Top - which proved one step too far for viewers.

Produced by Tarrant, it became infamous for its "balloon dance" in which three men danced wearing nothing but balloons.

Chris Tarrant
Tarrant appeared on the BBC show Pop Quiz in 1994

He moved into radio, and in 1987 signed a contract to present his own breakfast show on London station Capital Radio.

Until 1995, he formed a ratings-topping double act with Kara Noble, as millions of listeners across the city tuned in to hear the pair exchange quips and banter each morning.

But Noble quit to join Capital's rival, Heart FM, claiming their partnership off-air was less light-hearted.

Later, the row came back to haunt Tarrant when Noble sold photos to a tabloid newspaper of him lifting up the bikini top of then-Capital publicist Sophie Rhys-Jones - now the Countess of Wessex.

Tarrant picked up a Sony award for his radio work in 2001 for his "unique relationship with his listeners".

His announcement in 2003 that he was quitting the show affected Capital Radio's share price.

Top-rated

Away from radio, he continued his TV career.

He spent the late 1980s and early 1990s on ITV's early morning station TV-am and hosting game and quiz shows.

His distinctive voice was also in demand for advertisements.

Things picked up later in the 1990s with the Saturday night ITV quiz Man O Man, before he landed the compere's role in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in 1998.

Despite initially predicting the series would not take off, Tarrant and his partner David Briggs - his former producer at Capital - turned the show into the highest-rating programme on television within a year.

Millionaire, which offers contestants the chance to win 1m by answering 15 questions of increasing difficulty, delivered ratings of almost 18 million for ITV at the height of its popularity.

He turned down the chance to present Millionaire in America, but has continued as quizmaster in the UK.

"The schedule is really gruelling, but I get a huge buzz from it," he has said.

Tarrant made headlines again in May 2007 when he was arrested in Nottingham after allegedly assaulting a fellow diner with a piece of cutlery in a curry house.

His spokesman said he had jokingly dropped cutlery onto the table of another couple he was chatting to and that there was "no physical contact, no unpleasantness and no hostility".

Tarrant, who was said to be "bemused" by the arrest, was bailed to appear in June.




SEE ALSO
TV's Tarrant 'bemused' by arrest
14 May 07 |  Entertainment
Tarrant confirms marriage is over
18 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Presenter and author are honoured
13 Jul 06 |  West Midlands
Tarrant 'proud' to receive honour
22 Jun 04 |  Entertainment



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