I know I’m going on about classic game show Fifteen-To-One again but I wanted to look back at one of the most remarkable editions of the show’s history. Eventually in 16 years over 2,000 editions of the original run of Fifteen-To-One were made, and most came and went with little incident, but because so many shows were made sometimes it can throw up a freak result.
In a series 25 show in April 1999, ten contestants were eliminated in the first round which was a record at the time. This meant that only two contestants needed to be eliminated in round two. This didn’t take very long and host William G Stewart was beginning to think about what he would have to do as the show was now looking like it would seriously underrun. But they managed to fill the time in part two rather spectacularly.
One of the three contestants who made the final was Bill McKaig from Glasgow. He was a regular on Fifteen-To-One, having been the series 23 champion and the top of the finals board trophy winner in series 22 so it was clear that he was going to be very difficult to beat. He got the first three questions right on the buzzer and when it came to the question or nominate phase of the game he decided to take a question.
And then another, and then another. The questions were on various subjects, ranging from sport to history. Incredibly, Bill went on to get all 40 questions right, the second record-breaking moment in this edition. “It’s a score that it is never ever going to be beaten on Fifteen-To-One because it is the maximum score” said a clearly impressed William G Stewart, and he is right. 433 is the highest possible score, 400 points for 40 correct answers in the final, 30 bonus points for having three lives left, and 3 points from having three lives left at the end of part one.
This meant that Bill faced 43 questions on the show and he got every single one of them correct. Unsurprisingly Bill went on to win that series’ top of the finals board trophy, although Nick Terry would be the overall series winner. The two defeated contestants who didn’t get a look in in the final were kindly invited back to take part in the next series… on a show where Bill wouldn’t be a rival contestant.
This really was quizzing at its best and it was very exciting watching Bill when it was realised that he was making an attempt at the record, even admitting afterwards that he wanted to do it. (It would have been an interesting moment if he had got the final three questions wrong though). This is one of the most famous Fifteen-To-One editions and it has been frequently repeated whenever there’s been a gap in the Channel 4 schedule.
Bill McKaig is definitely one of the best contestants to have taken part on Fifteen-To-One, and after his maximum there were three more scores over 400, but no-one else scored 433. It was just brilliant to watch, a real masterclass of general knowledge, and one of the best moments in the show’s history. What a guy.