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Friday, 13 October, 2000, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Tintin 'rescues' Millionaire contestant
Millionaire winner Frederic
Magic moment: Frederic wins four million francs
The French version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? is surrounded in scandal after a contestant walked off with the jackpot thanks to the audience.

The eventual winner, Frederic, was unable to answer the million-franc question but scooped the prize when the question, in line with the rules, was thrown open to the studio audience.


The name Rotule rang a bell

TF1 spokesman

The Fr4,000,000 ($363,000) question asked: "In the adventures of Tintin, which doctor is it who tends Captain Haddock - Dr Rotule, Dr Omoplate, Dr Meniscus or Dr Tympan?"

Seventy-three per cent of the voting audience answered "Dr Rotule" correctly but a Tintin expert has questioned just how they could have known the answer.

Fabrice Le Dantec, a self-confessed Tintin addict, has e-mailed the newspaper Libčration to point out that the name of Dr Rotule appears just once in the whole of the Tintin collection, which includes 22 albums and more than 15,000 drawings.

Starling, the quiz show's production company, categorically denied cheating.

Childhood memories

"The three other doctors' names were totally invented. Obviously, for some people in the audience the name Rotule rang a bell," a spokeswoman said.

"And when they say 73% of the audience, that doesn't mean 73% of the 200 people there, but 73% of those who voted," she added.

Millionaire in France
Millionaire: France is celebrating its first "million" winner

Daniel Fimbel, another Tintin authority, said Dr Rotule was mentioned in two books, "Destination Moon" and "The Castafiore Emerald," and that the audience response was not so improbable.

And Serge Tisseron, a psychoanalyst and biographer of Tintin's creator Herge, said: "People who read Tintin when they were small would remember Rotule; children remember proper names much better than adults."

Almost 180 million copies of the Tintin books have been sold worldwide and the series has been translated into 51 languages.

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See also:

13 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Byrne to host 'millionaire' show
21 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Murdoch's Millionaire fight
04 Oct 00 | South Asia
Indian wins 'Millionaire' jackpot
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