The E-millionaire Show



Jon Snow


Princess Productions for Channel 4, 10 to 16 July 2000


Jon Snow tries to broaden his horizons from reading news to making news in this, the second Channel 4 show to give away a guaranteed £1million. Wow! What's more, the winning contestant could win a whopping £2million if they're particularly good.

Apparently, according to an interview with Jon Snow, the original intention was to run this against Who Wants to be a Millionaire? with the crazy title Who Wants to be an E-Millionaire? Luckily, they realised the folly of their ways and called it the much more sensible if duller E-Millionaire Show.

It's been big news lately that supposed dot-com companies have been dropping like flies (on the web... do you see?) so along comes Channel 4, sponsored by many big names (and don't they know it) to give away cash to winning ideas.

They had thousands of entries and they were whittled down by The Consortium (a collection of representatives from the companies providing the dosh) to just fifteen which would face off in groups of three until five, chosen by the power of democracy and the telephone vote go through to the hour long final where the money is given away. In between, there are various documentary shorts giving a flavour of what the e-business hype is all about.

But there's so much more to it than that. Oh hang on, no there's not.

It would be a trifle unfair to call this a game show really than as a televised competition where we get to influence the outcome - and yes, there is a difference. Each competitor gets one whole minute to pitch their ideas forward to try and influence three people: One interested in the business side of things, one interested in the technological side of things and a random celebrity who is asked if they thought the idea was interesting or not. As well as their pitch and answering questions from the panel, they also get to show a poster put together by an advertising agency for the hypothetical web site. Each panellist gives a mark out of ten to give a overall total out of thirty. It's all irrelevant because the phone lines open after the show for the public at large to decide, although usually (but not always) the same result is reached.

Image:Emillionaire show jonsnow.jpg"Come on up ladies and gentlemen, you want tellies, I got tellies, hundred quid a pop, eighty to you madam, can't say fairer than that, I'm pickin' my own pocket 'ere...."

For the final, the five finalists pitch their ideas one more time to a consortium of five people (and I hope the finalists were paying attention to themselves because they will ask questions later). At the end of the show they decide the winner of £1million. Not £1million to spend as you wish, however, it's £1million in capital. Which means you've got to do something constructive with it. Oh well.

Excitingly though, advertising companies were given 24 hours to come up with adverts for each of the five sites. Sadly though they were all rubbish. However, skip back to the top of this synopsis... yes you read right, £2million was on offer. The player could gamble all their winnings on a tension fuelled question with four possible answers and if they get it right they double and if they get it wrong they lose the lot. Oh hang on, wrong show. The Consortium could divide the other million up any way they wished.

As it turned out, in the first series there were two equal winners:, where schools can club together to get things cheaper, and a second idea - - got a million for the disabled. Nice ideas and worthy winners but not potentially very rock and roll (unlike our personal favourite with it's rather too energetic potential president) but we guess we'll need to reserve judgement until the sites are up and running.

The problem with the programme was that it didn't really know whether it was a game show or a documentary. We've got those Millionaire-style lights yet again. Jon Snow is hardly Mr Entertainment, so when he says things like "Your million pound minute starts... now!" it jars terribly. Equally, when he's dealing with the Q&A sessions and the VT segments, he fits in rather well.

But it doesn't stop there - oh no! Because all 15 competitors are going to be filmed in the various months to come so we'll see where the story ends. Will they be rich beyond the dreams of avarice? Or will they bomb out? Why did nobody come up with the sure-fire success Will the viewer who won the 1% share in the winning company by being randomly chosen from all the winning phone votes be happy? Why was the set so lacklustre? All this and more may or may not be answered at

Key moments

The surprising tense final decision, where the two equal winners were announced.

Web links

Winner: (the other, Schools For Schools, is no longer in business)


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