Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Officially titled National Lottery Winning Lines, this British game show featured 49 contestants per episode, each contestant chosen from the phone book. Assigned numbers from one to 49, the contestants then attempted to answer a series of general-knowledge questions, pressing buzzers when the questions were posted. The rules: If you buzzed and gave a wrong answer, you were eliminated; and if you didn't buzz at all, you were eliminated. Given this set-up, it's hardly surprising that there were only six finalists remaining after the first round. At the end of the telecast, the numbers assigned to the finalists were used to form the digits of telephone numbers, and it was from these that the contestants for the next telecast were selected. Invented by the same team responsible for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (David Briggs, Steve Knight, and Mike Whitehall), Winning Lines debuted in England in 1999. One year later, an American version briefly appeared, hosted by Dick Clark.