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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 07:18 GMT 08:18 UK
Millionaires face fewer questions
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
The popular game show is now shown in more than 100 countries
Contestants on game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire are to face fewer questions as the format is given a shake-up to keep it fresh.

The prize money will now start at 500, not 100, and it will take only 12 correct answers to win the top prize.

It is the first change to the format since the globally successful programme was launched nearly 10 years ago.

About 13.9m people tuned in to see the show in which Judith Keppel became the first 1m prize-winner in 2000.

Recent viewing figures have hovered around the 4m mark.

John Thompson and Jon Culshaw (courtesy of ITV)
John Thompson (left) and Jon Culshaw are first to face the rules
The new rules also redefine the "safe haven" prizes - which give contestants a guaranteed sum of money even if they answer later questions incorrectly.

It will only take two questions to reach the first of these milestones, which remains set at 1,000.

The second "safe haven" prize rises in value from 32,000 to 50,000, and is achieved after seven correct answers.

'Daunting'

Comedians Jon Culshaw and John Thompson will be the first people to face the new-look money tree, as part of a celebrity special on Saturday 18 August.

Host Chris Tarrant said: "Sitting in that hotseat has always been a daunting prospect, but now the contestants are thrown in at the deep end almost as soon as they've sat down, facing questions worth literally thousands."

Potential millionaires will also have the opportunity to audition for the show for the first time.

Interviews take place in Belfast, Glasgow, Chester, and Stratford-upon-Avon in September.

Successful candidates will appear on separate shows to contestants picked via the usual phone, text and internet applications.

"With the show approaching its 10th anniversary, our priority is to ensure we keep it fresh," said Kees Abrahams, head of 2waytraffic, which bought global rights to the show from Celador International last year as part of a 106m deal.

The show launched in 1998 and has aired in more than 100 countries.




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