Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway, ITV1

by | Jan 2, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

No. We prefer to steer clear of hyperbole, but this was one of the most pointless, irritating and badly-produced programmes ever seen on prime-time, mainstream British TV. Dreadful. Who thought it would be a good idea for people to literally beg for money on national TV?

What was good about it?

• Duncan Bannatyne tried hard to rise above the dross on occasion. Perhaps he felt comfortable in this transparent rip-off of Dragon’s Den. His best moments were the look of sheer horror on his face when opening guest Mike revealed just why he needed a tummy-tuck and the contempt he showed for Simon Jordan.

• Bannatyne refusing to give money to the England women’s football team, not because their song was diabolical, but because he’s Scottish.

• Jeffrey Archer amusingly seemed to have prison bars etched into his wrinkled forehead.

• Jacqueline Gold of Anne Summers and Mobo Awards founder Kanya King did little to irk us.

• The woman who got her money to visit native American places of interest called Lord Archer Mr Archer. Which, of course, he should be. (Although we’d address him as Lying Toad Archer if ever we had the misfortune to meet him)

What was bad about it?

• Where to start? I suppose we should begin by criticising the format. What we had here was five rich people who had apparently put £200,000 of their own money each into a pot (although this was never made explicit, and how would it have been offset against their fees for the series?) and were then sitting in judgement like Gods while various poor and/or desperate people and charities came to beg (mostly very badly) for cash. Unedifying, squirm-inducing, exploitative TV at it’s very finest. Well done ITV, another proud moment in your rapidly decaying history.

• Jeffrey Archer. The whole country hates this criminal, we don’t want him on our TV, we’re not interested in his opinions and we don’t respect his risible ‘bestsellers’.

• Simon Jordan’s pathetic attempt to be Mr Nasty. He is slimy and often odious and most people will have no idea who he is (he owns something called Crystal Palace FC). He had huge ears and should have used them to listen to the pleas, rather than indulging in an ego trip.

• Programme makers Fever actually had the cheek to list the ‘format’ as theirs in the very first line of the credits. Yet it was nothing more than an appalling ITV-isation of the laudable Dragon’s Den, only without the ideas. Apparently, Fever’s next project is to invent a sort of electric jug that heats water to a lukewarm temperature.

• The plagiarism didn’t stop at Dragon’s Den, though. As with most new pseudo game shows, there was an obligatory nod to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? with the music and set design.

• Richard Madeley. We know that Richard’s (and Judy’s) ‘thing’ is that they’re actually lamentable television presenters and it’s all very funny and we’re all supposed to like them in a sort of ironic way, but it is unacceptable that after decades of presenting live TV, Madeley STILL has not picked up a single skill in how to effectively front a TV show. Here he was by turns sickeningly (and we can’t stress how sickeningly) sycophantic, dismissive, lost, and bewildered, but most of all he was simply, utterly, unnecessary.

• First beggar Mike wanted £5k for a tummy tuck. He had lost a great deal of weight which was laudable, but the shower of applause and fawning offers of congratulations were frankly laughable. He didn’t climb Everest, he didn’t make some scientific breakthrough that helped all of humanity, he didn’t commit some small but commendable act of heroism. He just lost some weight.

• Simon’s cheek when he refused to finance Mike’s vanity, while sitting there with highlights in his hair, a fake tan and an expensive ring on his finger.

• Young cancer sufferer Liam presented a superbly articulate case for money for a holiday home for children suffering with cancer. His cause was indeed worthy. But what was he doing there? Why was a young kid on this show BEGGING for a few grand? To make the panel look benevolent? So we could all have a good cry at home? This was astonishingly exploitative, even for ITV.

• The ridiculous Miriam who blathered on endlessly about wanting a TV and a sofa. Why was she there? How does she fit in the same programme as young Liam, or even the gospel choir at the end? Why was our time being wasted like that?

• The desperate promos leading to each break that tried, and comfortably failed, to convince the viewer that something entertaining and worthwhile might be occurring after the break.

• The idiotic Jonathan, who wanted £20k to start a business where he would teach kids geography via the medium of rap. Remember Lee & Herring berating teachers who thought they were down with the kids? Or the various lampoons on South Park and The Simpsons of people who want to make education ‘fun’? This was worse. Execrable.

• Damon and Stephen’s stilted, awfully rehearsed dialogue about their love of rail. Their passion was almost endearing, but not quite. Damon’s teenage moustache was fantastic, though.

• Simon Jordan wanted to offer the rail fans a season ticket to Crystal Palace. No-one deserves that sort of punishment.

• The over-exuberant crowd who whooped and hollered at the smallest provocation. Either they were drunk or they were being threatened with shock therapy.

• The times when the audience didn’t have a clue whether to cheer or boo or shout.

• The graphics and style of the show, particularly at the start when introducing the panel (and they did need introducing) were lazy, derivative, uninspiring and cheap.

• Apart from anything else, this show just did not make sense, had no clear direction and was criminally under-produced. We’re no great fans of Secret Millionaire, but at least that show tries to display some subtlety and at least the odd scruple. If Michael Grade wanted an indication of the enormous job that lies before him, this is the show he needs to look at – a show that was heavily trailed as a major new series, a show with a prime time slot – and a show that was simply insulting to the viewing public

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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