Million Pound Drop gives wrong answer to Doctor Who question

Now I’m not an argumentative person, but had I been on the Million Pound Drop last night with Davina McCall, I would have raised bloody hell live on TV following the disgrace that was their Sci-Fi question.

OK, so I am an argumentative person, but in this instance I would have been spot on.

The game gives you four possible answers to a question and you have to place the money, one million pounds in handy sized £25k bundles, on one of four trapdoors representing each answer. The incorrect three answers open up and any money you have placed on those trapdoors is lost.

Now, on last night’s show the names of four Doctor Who actors came up, David Tennant, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston. I thought this was great, they’re going to ask something like who was the tenth Doctor (which would have been Tennant by the way).

No, the question was ‘Which actor played the role of Doctor Who for the longest period?”… interesting, but a simple one. Eccleston was the Doctor for one series, regenerating at the end of the series. McGann was the Doctor for one TV movie, so he was just two hours. Tennant was the Doctor for a few years, before regenerating into Matt Smith – however Sylvester McCoy was the Doctor in 1987, and he was still the Doctor following the show’s cancellation before he himself returned in 1996 to regenerate into McGann at the start of the TV movie.

sylvester mccoyTherefore McCoy was the correct answer, by a number of years. The contestants weren’t sure so they split their money between McCoy, McGann and Eccleston (with most of it going on McCoy).

Then all three of their answers dropped, leaving David Tennant as the correct answer and they’d lost all of their money. I was shocked, disgusted and outraged. I even checked my Doctor Who 11 Doctors figure set to see the official line on the years each actor has played the Doctor. Sure enough, McCoy was down as 9 years, ’87-’96. Just what had gone wrong with the Million Pound Drop?

Well, one would imagine that their researchers used Wikipedia to find out the answers, where it lists McCoy as having played the Doctor for just 2 years, ’87-’89 and then again in 1996. Surely even if they had used Wikipedia, that’s still a ‘period of 9 years’???

The question was ambiguous, but the researcher was slack and the contestants should be allowed to continue.

A similar thing happened on Who Wants to be a Millionaire a number of years ago when they asked what was the fewest number of strokes a player can make to win a set of tennis. The contestant chose 12, the correct answer was given as 24 and the contestant went home. However, they brought them back after realising you could in fact win a set of tennis by playing just 12 strokes – if you served 12 aces and your opponent served 12 double faults.

The Million Pound Drop needs to admit its mistake and get the couple back. They were right and should still be in the game.

I’d still be there now had it been me, refusing to let them get away with it. There’s also a number of online discussions and blogs referencing the mistake as the show has angered a lot of nerds… myself included.

Darren Jamieson

Darren Jamieson, aka MrDaz, is the Technical Director and co-founder of Engage Web and has been working online in a career spanning two decades. His first website was built in 1998 and is still live today.

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