DESPITE winning £250,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Julian Aldridge almost did not make it onto the show at all.

The Westhoughton quizzer was actually sitting backstage as a reserve disappointed that he had got so near yet so far from being able to sit in the iconic hotseat opposite Jeremy Clarkson.

The 36-year-old said: "I'd gone through three auditions but on the day of the recording, I was sat backstage with makeup on.

"Then someone dropped out and I thought ‘now’s my chance’. I feel really unfortunate for whoever it was because it must have been really serious."

On the show, the father-of-two joked that the prize money would be just about enough to put his two daughters through university.

Mr Aldridge is still waiting patiently for the quarter of a million pounds to land in his bank account but he is planning to be sensible with the winnings, after some input from his wife.

He added: "I’m quite keen to keep the money and retire by the time I’m about 50. I did have the idea of buying a Porsche vetoed by the missus straight away to be fair.

"The money comes in by bank transfer within four weeks of the show airing. It's not appeared yet but I've been checking my online banking every morning.

"When it does come in, I think I'm going to have to get Graham, the captain of my quiz team The Finishers a pint or two, because he was my phone a friend."

The quiz show veteran previously won £15,000 on The Code. He has now set his sights on 'Olympic Gold', and is hoping to use some specialist Bolton knowledge to get it.

"My main aim is to win Mastermind - it’s the Olympic gold medal for quizzers. I was on it a couple of years ago but I was disappointed in my performance.

"I think my special subject would be Phoenix Nights but I just need to keep revising."