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Smith to step down as Celador topper

'Millionaire' creator to depart in June

LONDON — The Brit who sparked a television revolution on both sides of the Atlantic, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” mastermind Paul Smith, is to scale back his activities at Celador.

Smith will step down as joint managing director of Celador Prods. in June, following more than 20 years at the outfit and will in future concentrate his time on the company’s film and radio activities.

Smith, who will remain as executive chairman of Celador’s parent company, Complete Communications Corp., was an entertainment program maker before he set up Celador in 1982

But it was to be 16 years before Celador made TV history when “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” became one of the most successful shows ever for the U.K.’s biggest terrestrial web, ITV.

At the time, quizshows were considered passe. “Millionaire” changed all that and helped propel the mania for non-scripted programs in the U.K. and the U.S., where “Millionaire” revived ABC’s fortunes.

The show was sold to more than 80 countries, paving the way for other skeins like the BBC’s “The Weakest Link” and Fremantle’s “Greed.”

Said Smith: “Having been at the helm of Celador for over 20 years, I feel the time is now right for me to take a back seat and scale down my working commitments.”

Danielle Lux, who joined Celador last February, takes over as managing director.

“Millionaire” is no longer the ratings-grabber it once was, and Celador has been unable to join the ranks of the U.K.’s biggest indies. But the company enjoys a reputation for quality fare, and its movie debut, “Dirty Pretty Things,” helmed by Stephen Frears, won an Oscar nomination for original screenplay.

Meanwhile, “Millionaire” remains a staple of ITV1’s Saturday night lineup. Celador is producing the 16th series of the show for the web.

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