In late 2001, the game finally reached the shores of an island called Singapore. This was of course the subject of much hype, pomp and other major media coverage which you would expect from such a popular gameshow.
(Add that to the fact that the only other gameshows Singapore has hosted before that are: The Pyramid Game and
Hollywood Celebrity Squares, giving out total prize money of no more than 1000 Singapore dollars - approximately US$560 - per show.)
The hoo-ha was further increased when the first local episode aired, after one season of the US version with Regis Philbin, and the participants seemed genuinely content with leaving with 1000 Singapore dollars! This is despite the fact that the questions were obviously "dumbed down". With only a population of 4 million, people soon began to realise that anyone had a chance to become a millionaire!
However, regardless of that new understanding, no one of any standard really got onto the hot seat, and the first season ended with only one person winning the $32,000 prize.
One contestant didn't even know what Little Miss Muffet was eating on her tuffet!
The second season was more interesting, though, because of the way the standard of questions suddenly rose by leaps and bounds. This was in response to three contestants who won $64k, $64k and $125k in the span of a fortnight. It led to much speculation, suggesting the sponsors did not have the money for a million dollar pay-off.
Nonetheless, the season had not ended yet and I decided to take my chances. Just to show you how much simpler it is to get onto the show, this is how the selection went:
1 - The Phone Call
Dial a number, get charged $2 flat, listen to a recording and answer a simple multiple choice question. Get it right, leave your particulars and wait for the producers to call you.
2a - The Second Call
Receive a call from one of the show's many personnel, who will ask you three questions. Get all of them correct, and give more particulars to them.
2b - The Tiebreaker
Apparently, there were several people who got the three questions right, so another call arrived with a tiebreaker question. Get this right, and you're in!
3a - Filming Day
We were told to arrive at the studio at 2p.m., to familiarise ourselves with the set, the system and how to make yourself look as dopey as every other contestant that has gotten into the Hot Seat before you.
3b - Filming Night
I was very amused, because I won the fastest finger first first (now say that 5 times fast!), and got into the hot seat, much to my excitement and the excitement of my mother, who was in the audience.
5 minutes later, I was shaking hands with the show's host, and holding a big styrofoam cheque for one thousand Singapore dollars. Ah well, there goes my millionaire dream.
Not surprisingly, the show lasted for one more season before dying off. Its primetime slot has been replaced by the local version of Wheel of Fortune, which just paid my friend a cool 10 thousand in cash and prizes. Hmmmmm, maybe there is hope for Singaporean gameshows after all.