Everything you need to know about Millionaire Hot Seat

Millionaire Hot Seat (also known as Hot Seat) is an Australian television quiz gaming show. The television show is a spin-off of the popular ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ television show. It first began airing in 2009 and follows a similar format to the original show. Like the original show, Millionaire Hot Seat is hosted by Eddie McGuire.

What’s the premise of Millionaire Hot Seat?

Talk of an abridged version of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ started to circulate in early 2009 and were later confirmed by the Nine Network when they produced a pilot version of the show, then titled ‘Millionaire: Russian Roulette’. The official title of the show was announced as Millionaire Hot Seat, and was later shortened to Hot Seat. The format of the show was originally promoted as a short run series, with the main advertising for the show featuring ‘20 nights! 20 million dollars!’.

The show first began airing in the 5:00pm-6:00pm time slot and competed against ratings heavyweight, Deal or No Deal on the Seven Network. The show’s format is based on the Italian version of the show, with the game being played in 30 minutes with different game rules. Initially a half-hour version of the original show ran twice weekly in 2004, before later being revived in 2009.

The show was initially filmed in at Studio 9 on the GTV9 Richmond location, but was relocated to the Docklands Studios in Melbourne in 2011. The show has had a number of famous contestants compete on the show in previous years, including the remaining couples from The Block appearing after the 2011 season, in an attempt to win $1,000,000 for charity. In the end, they only managed to win $1,000 for charity. Later that same year, there was a ‘The Farmer Wants A Wife’ special with Farmer Frank attempting to $100,000 – he only won $1,000 for his chosen charity in the end.

A local version of the show exclusive to WA began to air in 2014. The show received a revamp in 2015, with a set refresh and opening theme update. At the end of 2016 the show was extended to one hour. The show had had impressive ratings since its debut in 2009 and helped Nine Netwrok regain it’s ratings dominance, but it has started to lose some of its viewers to the Chase Australia in recent years.

Millionaire Hot Seat trivia
Photo: Channel 9 Australia

What is the format of Millionaire Hot Seat?

The show was designed to be a faster-paced version of the tradition ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ TV show. Hot Seat involves six contestants playing the quiz game each episode. The contestants each take turns trying to be the one in the ‘Hot Seat’ to reach the goal amount of correct questions and answers. The goal amount is the largest amount on the money tree. The amount is reduced by one step after every wrong answer given. The traditional three lifelines from the original show were replaced by a single ‘pass’ lifeline, which passes the current question to the next contestant in line (who is not allowed to pass on the question) and sends the current contestant to the back of the line-up. Every question has an allocated time limit.

The first five questions have 15 second time allocations, whilst the five middle questions have 30 second time limits, and 45 seconds for the last five questions. The timer for each question begins after the host McGuire reads the question and four possible answers out. If a player doesn’t give a correct answer in the time limit, it is considered as an automatic use of the pass lifeline. If the time expires and the current contestant does not have a pass lifeline available then it is treated as if they gave an incorrect answer. Unlike format of other Millionaire shows, Hot Seat does not immediately end on the wrong answer. Instead, the current contestant is eliminated from the game and the next contestant in the line moves to the ‘Hot Seat’ and all the remaining contestants in the game move up one chair, the goal amount is also reduced to the next larger amount on the money tree. Once the contestants are shuffled, a new question is asked and the gameplay resumes.

Contestants cannot walk away from the game under any circumstances. The game comes to an end when all contestants in the game are either eliminated or when the question with the highest value on the money tree is answered by a contestant. If a question on the bottom tier of the tree is answered correctly, then the answering player receives the value of the question. If the wrong answer is given then the last player to be eliminated either received nothing or $1,000, if the fifth question is reached. In the history of the show, no final contestant has ever left empty-handed.

Another point of difference from the traditional show is that the only guaranteed sum of money is the $1,000 received for answering the fifth question correctly. This sum of money is awarded to the contestant who whom plays the final question on the money tree or the last of the five players to be eliminated. If a contestant misses out on the opportunity to answer a question or sit on the hot seat then they may be given the opportunity to return at a later date, as the producers often invite those contestants back to the show. If a contestant however chose to pass on their question than they will be eliminated and are unlikely to be invited to return to the show.

Millionaire Hot Seat question
Photo: Channel 9 Australia

During the latter half of 2011, new audio and visual questions were introduced to the format of the show. Either an audio, or a visual question would be asked once during each episode, usually at the early stages of the game. In 2015 a new ‘switch’ lifeline was introduced to the game for contestants who had made it to the final question. This let contestant switch to a different question, if they could not answer the one they were given. The new switch lifeline was quickly dropped, and then readopted later in the year. The ‘Ask a Friend’ lifeline was added in 2015. Similar to the old ‘Phone a friend’ lifeline on the show, the contestant is able to ask a designated friend, family member or member of the audience to help them answer the question.

The player must have first answer three consecutive questions about the $1000 safe level before being allowed to use the lifeline. The show had a format changeup in 2017 to extend it to an hour run time. The new format was a mash-up of the traditional show’s format and Hot Seat. The new one hour show was divided into two segments, the Fastest Finger First and Hot Seat segment.

In the show’s version of Fastest Finger First, the six contestants’ must use a touch screen to lock in their answers. Unlike the traditional version of the game, the players only have 10 seconds to lock in an answer. The player who answers the most questions gets a bonus $1,000. The contestant can later exchange the sum of money for a lifeline when playing hot seat.

Top Prize Winner on The Hot Seat

The show’s first (and so far only Hot Seat winner for Australia) is Edwin Daly, a 67 year old man who won the prize in 2016. He is only the fourth contestant to win the top prize in the world.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
Executive Editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to business leaders and entrepreneurs around Australia and across the world. You can contact Mike here.
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