'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' contestant misses out on top prize – but knew the answer

Albertina Lloyd
Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK

A Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? contestant decided to play it safe after getting to the final question - even though he knew the right answer.

Retired doctor Andrew Townsley, from Glasgow, could have become the sixth contestant to scoop the jackpot prize on the ITV quiz show after the reaching the 15th question, worth £1m.

After seeing the question on motorsport he decided to leave with £500,000, but when host Jeremy Clarkson asked him what he would have played, he chose the correct answer.

Andrew Townsley reached the jackpot question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (Stellify Media/ITV)

The final question was: “Which of these iconic races was held first?”

Read more: Chris Tarrant's grandson duped by Michael Sheen in Quiz

The options were A. Le Mans 24 Hours, B. Monaco Grand Prix, C. Indy 500, or D. Isle Of Man TT.

Townsley used his final lifeline, Phone A Friend, but the friend did not know the answer either.

The correct answer was D: Isle Of Man TT.

Andrew Townsley declined to play for £1m but turned out to know the answer. (Stellify Media/ITV)

Townsley told Clarkson: “I don't know the answer and it's just too much money to lose. Having got so far and to go on a whim I think would be foolish and Niagara Falls is looking very nice at this time.”

He later told The Sun: “I was actually 50/50. If I still had the 50/50 lifeline I would have.

“I thought it probably was the TT. But was I prepared to risk it?

“The show went very quick. That was my abiding memory of it. I found myself suddenly running out of questions in no time at all.”

Townsley, who appeared on the show in a wheelchair and has progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), plans to use his £500,000 to pay for a trip to Niagara Falls.

Judith Keppel was the first winner of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? in 2000. (PA)

Judith Keppel became the first person to win £1m on the show in November 2000, during the quiz show’s eighth series. She went on to become part of a panel of quiz experts on BBC gameshow Eggheads.

Since then there have been five more jackpot winners, the most recent being self-professed quiz expert Ingram Wilcox in 2006.

In 2001, Major Charles Ingram (no relation), his wife Diana and an accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, were accused of cheating their way to £1m.

Read more: Chris Tarrant says Who Wants To Be A Millionaire cheats are 'guilty as sin'

They stood trial in 2003 for conspiring by coughing during the recording to signify the correct answers to the multiple choice questions posed by the then host, Chris Tarrant.

Jeremy Clarkson made a joke about coughing in the audience. (Stellify Media/ITV)

A dramatisation of the story, Quiz, was recently broadcast on ITV starring Michael Sheen as Tarrant.

During Townsley’s appearance on the show Clarkson made a joke about someone coughing in the audience.

Tarrant hosted Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? from 1998 to 2014, and the show was brought back in 2018 with Clarkson at the helm.