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Ex-dancer wins a million

Quiz wizard Dave Edwards has become only the second person to win the ultimate prize on the UK television programme, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? But his performance came as no surprise to friends who knew him during his morris dancing days.

Fellow members of Redbornstoke Morris had already seen him win Britain's gruelling Mastermind tournament on television in 1990.

A shower of metallic confetti dropped from the ceiling as the Millionaire show's host, Chris Tarrant, announced that Dave - a past member of several Cotswold and rapper sides - had won the big prize.

Moments earlier, the audience had cheered as Dave declared that he would risk UKP 468,000 of the money he'd already won by taking a chance on the final, million-pound question - even though he wasn't absolutely sure of the correct answer.

"No, I'm almost certain," he said. "Horrible word, 'almost,' isn't it?"

He continued: "No, I've.... I'm not quite sure but it might be...."

The television audience saw his wife, Viv, cringing in her seat - even though it turned out that she too knew the answer he was toying with was the correct one.

At the start of Dave's run of 15 questions, the audience was told David's ideal situation was to know the correct answer to a question before the four possible responses were flashed on screen. His nightmare, he said, was the find that his ready answer was not one of those four.

The nearest he came to a test of his musical knowledge was a question about 1970s comedy: "Which singer was regularly ridiculed by Morcambe and Wise in their television shows?" Dave gave the answer - Des o'Connor - without hesitating. He answered all of the first 11 questions with the same quiet confidence.

Only when he was asked the real first name of the British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, did he come close to losing the big prize. He used all three of his "lifelines" - asking the audience, phoning a friend and removing two wrong answers - and still wasn't sure. The audience had voted heavily for John, for which Jack is a common nickname.

Dave said: "I'm sorry, Viv, I'm going to go for the one that looks least likely. On the other hand...."

He chose the name John after all - and pushed his score up to UKP 125,000.

At no point in the show was the audience told about Dave's past morris career. No mention was even made of him winning the highly prestigious Mastermind tournament.

Fellow members of Bedfordshire-based Redbornstoke Morris knew he would be appearing on the Millionaire show after news of his big win was leaked in the UK press.

Brian Mander, the side's current foreman, had met Dave and Viv only hours before the Millionaire show was screened - on Saturday, 21 April, 2001. The programme had been recorded well in advance.

Brian said: "I got home and there was this couple in my living room and they had a cheque in their hands - made out with a one and six noughts.

"Dave was the same as ever - he's always been cheerful and level-headed. When he won Mastermind he was the same - it's something he accepts he can do."

Brian and bagman Barry Goodman are the only members of Redbornstoke who remember Dave dancing with the side, more than 20 years ago. Barry also formed a singing duo with Dave, and the pair took on a small number of bookings at clubs around the country with their close-harmony act.

He also played with a ceilidh band while living in Bedfordshire.

National newspaper reports made reference to Dave's interest in folk music - he plays guitar and concertina - but the audience were told nothing of his morris career. It began with The Men of Sweyn's Eye, when he was a university student in Swansea. He also danced with Mersey Morris Men.

Dave learned rapper while studying for a post-graduate teaching qualification at Keele University. Several members of the team reunited some years afterwards, and became highly regarded for their slick and spectacular performances.

In recent years, though, he's preferred to spend his spare time as the scourge of local quiz tournaments - though he has recently attended a couple of practices with another morris side near his home in Staffordshire.

He's also been invited to join other past members of Redbornstoke Morris at the team's 25th anniversary celebrations in July, 2001.

Beer has been a motif with both his pastimes - and it cropped up again at the end of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? As the credits rolled, Chris Tarrant stood with his arm around Dave and joked: "We're going straight to the bar - and he's paying."

THE FINAL QUESTION

Dave answered fifteen questions to win his million pounds. The last was:

If you planted the seeds of Quercus robur, what would you grow?

A Trees
B Flowers
C Vegetables
D Grain

The answer Dave gave was... the correct one.

LINKS
Play the game online at http://www.itv.co.uk/
Redbornstoke Morris
Mersey Morris Men

2001 Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers

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