October 14: A couple of weeks ago, the French version of the game-show, ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ ( the Indian version, Kaun Banega Crorepati, is the most popular programme on Indian TV these days ), asked Frederic a real teaser of a question.

The question was: in the adventures of Tintin, which doctor takes care of Captain Haddock – Dr Rotule, Dr Omoplate, Dr Mensiscus or Dr Tympan?

Tintin is a boy reporter who goes around the world having hair-raising adventures with his dog, Snowy, and his friend, Captain Haddock, in one of the most famous comic book series in the world till date, having sold more than 175 million copies around the world. He is one of the world’s most famous Frenchmen.

But Frederic the contestant did not know the answer, writes a Hindustan Times report. So he selected a lifeline. Lifelines are basically helping aids, designed to help a contestant answer a question he doesn’t know.

Tintin Storm in 'Millionnaire' Show
Tintin Storm in ‘Millionnaire’ Show [Illustration by Shiju George]
The game-show generally has three lifelines – phone a friend, seek the help of the studio audience or get two of the four options eliminated.
Frederic sought the help of the studio audience who in turn, voted overwhelmingly for Dr Rotule.

The answer turned out right. Frederic then went on to win a record four million francs, and went home a millionaire.

So far so good. But a letter to French daily ‘Liberation’, by a man named Fabrice Le Dantec, has questioned the win and stirred up a hornet’s news. Le Dantec has suggested the show is rigged.

“Without being an expert, I am something of a connoisseur of the works of Tintin’s creator Herge,” he wrote. But I was dumfounded by the response to the one million franc question.”

What Fabrice meant was that the answer to the question was not so easy that 73 per cent of the audience could have known it. Unless of course the audience was informed about it in advance. This, in turn, would suggest that the show was rigged.

Le Dantec’s letter has created a storm in France. If he is right, then the game show is obviously taking its viewers for a ride. And if it is doing it in France, then there’s a possibility that it’s doing the same in India and other countries where it’s hosted, too.

But then again, the audience might have known the correct answer, too. Tintin is something of an institution in France. Over 44 per cent of French families possess a Tintin book. There have even been debates in the French Parliament concerning the character of Tintin.

It is possible that what might seem trivia on Tintin and not worth bothering about to others, is known to the French who after all, are supposed to be extremely nationalist, aren’t they?

Some of you must be Tintin fans too. Did you know the answer?