English teacher John Robinson raced through the questions on Monday night’s episode of the ITV show before arriving at the final hurdle with no lifelines left.
It was the first time viewers had seen the show’s biggest question since 2006 and the first time host Jeremy Clarkson has seen a contestant get to the final round since he took over hosting from Chris Tarrant last year.
For the million pound question, Robinson had to say which former UK prime minister had never served as foreign secretary.
However, he was unable to choose from Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home.
Deciding he was not willing to risk so much money, Robinson took the £500,000.
The correct answer would have been Churchill.
Afterwards, Clarkson said: “What a player, what a fabulous player”.
The former Top Gear host called the game play “extraordinary”.
Viewers said watching Robinson climb up the ladder had been stressful.
One person posted on Twitter: “Never been so tense watching an episode of @MillionaireUK HE IS AT £500K AND IS 1 QUESTION AWAY FROM WINNING £1M.”
“Anyone else actually feel stressed watching this ep of #WhoWantsToBeAMillionaire or is it just me?” asked another.
Another person said they were too gripped to not switch over for This Time With Alan Partridge.
“This Time can wait... My anxiety can’t take this! This man is incredible!” the person posted.
There have been five £1 million winners since Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? started on UK television in 1998.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? continues on ITV all week.