Judith Keppel

Judith Cynthia Aline Keppel (born 18 August 1942)[2] is a British quiz show contestant who was the first person to win one million pounds on the British television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. She has appeared on the former BBC Two, now Channel 5, quiz show Eggheads since 2003.

Judith Keppel
Judith Keppel.jpg
Keppel in 2008
Judith Cynthia Aline Keppel

(1942-08-18) 18 August 1942 (age 78)
Known forFirst winner of the British television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 2000
Desmond Leon Corcoran
(m. 1964; div. 1980)

(m. 1985; separated 1987)
ChildrenSibylla, Alexander, and Rosie
Parent(s)Walter Arnold Crispin Keppel (father)
RelativesArnold Keppel, 8th Earl of Albemarle (great-grandfather)
Walter, 9th Earl of Albemarle (grandfather)
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (third cousin)

Early lifeEdit

Keppel's father, the Hon. Walter Arnold Crispian Keppel (1914–1996), was a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. The family moved around, thanks to various naval postings, before settling in London when Keppel was seventeen. She sat A-Levels at St Mary's School, Wantage, and then completed a secretarial course. [3]

Keppel is a granddaughter of Walter Keppel, 9th Earl of Albemarle. Her great-grandfather, the 8th Earl, was the brother of George Keppel and the brother-in-law of Alice Keppel, a mistress of King Edward VII and the great-great uncle of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall,[4] who is thus her third cousin. Through her grandfather, her ancestors include Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England, who were the subjects of her one million-pound question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.


In 1964, at Chelsea, London, Keppel married her first husband, Desmond Corcoran,[5] an art dealer with whom she had three children, Sibylla, Alexander, and Rosie, but they divorced in 1980.[6] In 1985, she married comedy scriptwriter Neil Shand. They were separated in 1987.[7]

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?Edit

£1 million (15 of 15)
Which king was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine?
⬥ A: Henry I ⬥ B: Henry II
⬥ C: Richard I ⬥ D: Henry V
Keppel's £1 million question

Keppel appeared on the 20 November 2000 episode of the UK edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, becoming the 12th winner in the world and the first in the UK to win one million pounds. At the time, she was a garden designer living in Fulham and was "struggling for money".[8] Nonetheless, she had spent about £100 phoning the quiz show more than 50 times to secure a place.[6] "BT rang me up and said, 'Do you realise your telephone bills are rising?'"[9]

There was speculation at the time that the win was leaked to the press so that ITV would draw ratings away from BBC One which was showing the last episode of One Foot in the Grave in the same timeslot. However, the Independent Television Commission cleared Celador and ITV of the allegations.[10]

Keppel now appears on the Channel 5 quiz show Eggheads, where she and seven other quiz champions (five at a time) are pitted against five members of the public.


  1. ^ 'West Midlands' county did not exist prior to 1 April 1974. 'Staffordshire' is correct
  2. ^ Charles Mosley (ed.), Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage (London: Burke's Peerage, 1999)
  3. ^ Ft.com (subscription required)
  4. ^ Sir William Coutts Keppel, 7th Earl of Albemarle thePeerage.com
  5. ^ Marriages, June 1964: “Corcoran, Desmond L and Keppel, Judith C A” in Register of Marriages for Chelsea Registration District, vol. 5C, p. 429
  6. ^ a b Kindon, Frances (15 April 2020). "Millionaire winners now - bankruptcy, backlash and gruesome gardening accidents". mirror. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  7. ^ Woods, Judith (4 August 2001). "Thank God, I don't have to move to France". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  8. ^ "My secret to winning Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Being single". Daily Telegraph. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Cool, calm, and collector of quiz show's first million :But first the adverts as viewers wait for response to the final question". Herald Scotland. 21 November 2000. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Millionaire? cleared of ratings 'fix'". BBC News. 15 January 2001. Retrieved 28 January 2007.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
First winner
Top prize winner on
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (UK)

20 November 2000
Succeeded by
David Edwards