Everyone Wants to Be a Millionaire: Celebrating 25 Years of Sony Pictures Television's Iconic Game Show

Everyone Wants to Be a Millionaire: Celebrating 25 Years of Sony Pictures Television's Iconic Game Show
In an engaging and nostalgic panel discussion titled "Everyone Wants To Be A Millioanire - 25 Years Of The Format" at Natpe Budapest (Hungary, June 24-27, 2024) moderated by Clare Thompson of K7Media, was commemorated the 25th anniversary of Sony Pictures Television's (SPT) legendary game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" (WWTBAM)

The panel featured  some personalities including the Polish host Hubert Urbanski, Laura St. Clair, SVP of Format Sales and International Production at SPT, and Matthew Worthy, co-founder of Stellify Media and Executive Producer of the UK series.

Clare Thompson in her introduction remarked the unparalleled success, noting its consistent top position on K7 Media's annual Tracking the Giants list of the top traveling non-scripted formats worldwide. With 179 versions launched globally and over 30 still active, the format is 61 ahead of its nearest rival, "Deal or No Deal," and boasts double the number of adaptations compared to the third-placed "Family Feud." Since its UK debut in September 1998, the show has celebrated milestones across the globe, with Poland and Germany reaching their 25th anniversaries in 2024. But what is it about WWTBAM that has made it endure?

Each panellist shared their earliest memories of the show. Laura St. Clair recalled the massive impact WWTBAM had when it launched at the BBC, describing it as a primetime event with a monumental prize. She emphasized the format's simplicity, flexibility, and unique approach to quiz shows, likening it to a primetime sporting event. These qualities have allowed WWTBAM to continue captivating audiences and traveling across different regions. A montage showcasing the show's various international versions was a testament to its universal appeal.

Hubert Urbanski, who has been the face of WWTBAM in Poland since its launch in September 1999, reflected on his journey with the show. With three different versions airing on TVN over the years, Hubert has become synonymous with the Polish iteration of WWTBAM. We were treated to a reel of his best moments, showcasing his enduring charisma and connection with the audience.

Matthew Worthy recounted the opportunity Stellify Media had in 2018 to repitch WWTBAM to ITV with a new host, Jeremy Clarkson. Convincing Clarkson to take on the role was crucial, and the team focused on returning to the show's basics while introducing a new lifeline and safety net. A clip from the UK show with Clarkson highlighted the fresh yet familiar feel of the revamped format.

The panel concluded with a glimpse into the future of WWTBAM. A new season is set to air in Poland this autumn, with another recording in the UK for ITV in November. New celebrity specials are planned in France and the US with Jimmy Kimmel. The potential for more revivals is also on the horizon, ensuring that WWTBAM will continue to captivate audiences worldwide. The format is also is set to launch in Mongolia and Guatemala. 

This celebration of WWTBAM's 25-year journey showcased its remarkable adaptability and enduring popularity. As the format continues to evolve and expand, it remains a beloved staple in the world of game shows, captivating generations of viewers with its timeless appeal.

(Photos by Daniel Vegel)