A BITTER wrangle broke out between TV bosses last night over the first £1m win on quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

A huge audience saw TV history made as grandmother Judith Keppel become the first person to scoop the top prize on the ITV show that has become a ratings phenomenon since its launch two years ago.

But the win has prompted suspicions that it may have been timed to coincide with the final episode of the BBC comedy classic One Foot in the Grave. And there were even suggestions that the questions might have been made easier to boost the chances of a £1m win.

The last big win, when Kate Heusser collected £500,000 on November 2, was screened opposite an hour-long EastEnders special.

A BBC insider said: "It is a bit of a coincidence. Call me suspicious but it seems to me you can drastically improve your chances of becoming a millionaire if you check your BBC1 schedule before going on the programme.

"I wonder if there has been some deliberate 'dumbing down' of the questions on certain nights?"

But ITV hit back and said it was disappointed that news of last night's win leaked out before the programme was screened.

A spokeswoman said: "We really wanted to keep it a secret so as not to spoil viewers' enjoyment of the programme.

"It's a great shame to see the BBC reacting with such cynicism. In doing so, they are ignoring the facts."

The spokeswoman claimed Who Wants to be a Millionaire? had been winning the ratings battle with One Foot in the Grave, with 2.4 million more viewers last week.

And presenter Chris Tarrant also dismissed suggestions that the win, which came after 122 episodes, had been timed to beat the BBC in the ratings war.

He said: "It's obviously luck and coincidence. We don't say, 'Oh well, Victor Meldrew is dying tonight, let's slip her a couple of easy ones'. The questions are hard.

"We refused to dumb the questions down. We said it would happen one night. We always said it would come out of the blue and it has."

Ms Keppel, a 58-year-old distant cousin of Camilla Parker Bowles, had faced an agonising three-minute advert break between giving her answer to the final question and learning if she was right.

Her £1m question was: "Which King was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine?"

The garden designer, from Fulham, London, knew the answer of Henry II almost immediately. But she said: "There's something about the huge sum of money which sows a lot of doubt in your mind."

Asked how she felt about answering the £1m question, she said: "There was a roar like at a football match, I couldn't believe it. The whole thing was rather unreal, rather like a dream."

Viewers saw her get up to £16,000 in Saturday night's episode of the show, before reaching the jackpot last night in a show filmed on Sunday. Ms Keppel had used all three of her lifelines before she got to the £1m question.

The former convent girl said she had never gambled before and celebrated her win with a Coke.

And despite being related to the Prince of Wales' partner, Ms Keppel said people would be wrong to assume she was already rich.

She said: "Money has not been a terrible problem and I'm obviously not on the breadline. But I'm really looking forward to spending it." Chris Tarrant chipped in: "She hasn't got pots of money."

Ms Keppel - who has two grown-up daughters - phoned the quiz show more than 50 times to secure a place.

She added: "BT rang me up and said 'Do you realise your telephone bills are rising'. They thought I had a rampant teenager."

Would you have won? - Page 3