The biggest prize in TV history: Father-of-three takes home 1.5million on Simon Cowell's show Red or Black
20:17 GMT, 26 June 2012
A contestant on Simon Cowell’s gameshow Red or Black has won 1.5million, the biggest prize in British TV history.
The father-of-three, only known as Graham, scooped the scandal-hit ITV1 show’s jackpot after beating seven other contestants in a series of challenges.
But despite winning the huge cash prize on Monday night, the married carpenter from Berkshire will have to wait until the pre-recorded series broadcasts in August before collecting his winnings.
Life changing: A father-of-three from Berkshire won the biggest cash prize in TV history on Red Or Black which is hosted by duo Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly
TV duo Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly awarded the prize after hours of recording at Elstree Studio and Graham was covered in confetti as his stunning wife rushed on stage – and he was hoisted on to his friends’ shoulders.
The ITV show returns for a second seven-part series this year with a weekly 500,000 prize and has a plum timeslot after the X Factor.
Although the jackpot is down from the 1million weekly prize on offer last year, the total will now accumulate each time it is unclaimed on a previous episode.
Graham’s prize was a triple-rollover after two previous contestants walked away empty handed.
Controversy: The first series of Simon Cowell's show saw Nathan Hageman win 1million and it was later revealed that he had spent two years behind bars for attacking his ex-girlfriend
The first series of Red or Black hit the headlines last September when it emerged one of the winners had a criminal record for assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
Former bricklayer Nathan Hageman, 31, was allowed to keep his 1million prize despite spending two-and-a-half years in jail for the brutal attack.
Later three other finalists were removed after ITV carried out fresh background checks.
As a result, producers decided to scrap the show’s live format so they could investigate winners more thoroughly.
In a further blow, show bosses were forced to axe a giant roulette wheel used to pick winners after the Gambling Commission declared that it glamourised gambling.
It has been replaced by a new game – dubbed 'The Vortex' – in which contestants predict how long a ball will take to drop through a hole.
Ready for a new series: Ant & Dec front the show which came under harsh criticism for glamourising gambling
During the episode filmed on Monday night, Graham won a series of bizarre tasks to see off his competition before successfully completing The Vortex.
In the first, Boyzone singer Ronan Keating performed while two ballerinas – one dressed in red, the other on black – twirled onstage and contestants were asked to guess which dancer would make more turns.
In another challenge they had to pick the winner from a pair of motorbike stuntmen, and in a third, a monk climbed a flight of stairs on his head while they guessed if he would fall over on a red or black step.
The previous record TV jackpot was 1million, first set by Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestant Judith Keppel – a distant cousin of Camilla Parker Bowles – in 2000.
Since her win, 12 game show contestants have scooped seven-figure jackpots, including four Red or Black contestants last year.
Yesterday, an ITV spokesman refused to comment further on Graham’s win, saying: ‘We’re unable to confirm details from the recording.’
However, a show insider said: ‘This is a momentous day in TV history.’