As my interview with Martin continues, we discuss the alleged controversy that reared its ugly head after his first appearance on the show, and how he dealt with it.
SH: On the first night you got all the way up to $250,000. So you were returning for the second episode with just two questions remaining; $500,000 and one million dollars. And at the start of that episode, Eddie referred to some “controversy”. Can you tell us about that?
MF: I met Eddie backstage about 5 minutes beforehand. He was encouraging me to win. I thought that was great, that’s giving me some confidence. He obviously wants me to win. He says “let’s go out there, mate, and win a million bucks!” And as I walked in, the voiceover was saying something like “our most controversial contestant so far”. And when Eddie started chatting to me, he said “last week’s episode… Controversial!” and I’m looking at him like “What? What the hell is he talking about?” It didn’t make any sense. But I’d then think “it doesn’t matter. It has nothing to do with what I’m about to see as a $500,000 question, so it really doesn’t matter”. And the audience is kind of quiet. I try to gauge their reaction and what they’re thinking, but I’m imagining they’re all sitting there thinking “what is he talking about?”
Then he mentioned more of it at the end, once I’d won, when I was a bit more relaxed. He said “we were wondering if you had an electrode on your big toe!” It sounded funny the way he said that. I laughed about it, not knowing that for the previous five weeks, they’d had criminal psychologists looking through tapes and trying to see if there was any pattern to the coughs, to catch me cheating*. It never dawned on me that they had actually investigated me. The previous episode they had actually searched me. I was told that it was procedure, that they would give you a scan with the metal detector so I thought “well, I’ve just won a quarter of a million, obviously they’re gonna search me more just to make sure”. They searched me before I went on and I was chatting to the guy who was patting me down – this was before the half million dollar question – “if I was wired up, I would be pretty bloody nervous now, wouldn’t I?” and he said “yeah, we’re looking for that too”. It never occurred to me that they could possibly think that I was cheating.
Next week, Martin takes us through the two biggies – the $500,000 question and the Million Dollar Question. All the tactics, the banter, the emotions… and the questions themselves.
SPOILER ALERT: He gets them both right.
But for the full story of how he got them both right, be sure to check back here next week!
* Four years earlier, there had been a scandal on the UK version of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’, where million dollar winner Charles Ingram was discovered to have had accomplices in the audience, alerting him to the correct answers by coughing when the host mentioned them. A fuller account can be found here.