“YOU could’ve been set for life – it’s really heartbreaking. You were on course for the title of the first male quarter-of-a-millionaire winner but now the title is for the biggest loser.”

Those were the words of Deal or No Deal host Noel Edmonds after father-of-two Peter Austin, from Basingstoke, opened his box on the programme and found that £250,000 had slipped through his grasp.

More than a million viewers watched on Monday as Peter, 54, had the opportunity to win £250,000 on the Channel 4 show after he ended up with the highest value box before he started the game.

As each contestant is kept in the dark about what sum is in his or her box, Peter had no idea he was sitting on a fortune – and after a poor first four rounds of the game, he chose to sell his quarter-of-a-million-pound box to The Banker – a character on the show – for just shy of £8,000.

The rules of the game mean that Peter, an HGV driving instructor, had to play on – and at the end, it was revealed that his box contained £250,000.

Despite missing out on the big win, Peter is remarkably upbeat.

He said: “I had a brilliant time and I feel really lucky to have been able to get involved.

“It is weird because I did have a dream before I went on that I had the £250,000 box and that all the confetti came down on me. And £250,000 was also the amount I chose during a trial show in my audition.

“Of course, I would have loved to have been the first male quarter-of-a-millionaire winner. But I went there hoping for between £8,000 and £10,000 and I walked away with £7,950 which is still a brilliant amount of money.”

He wasn’t as impressed with show creator and host Edmonds, who he says “went mad” when he went to open his box on a previous show before getting the go-ahead from him.

He said: “He was very rude and not a friendly man at all.” He did, however, commiserate with Peter and told him to enjoy his money. Peter, a grandfather, filmed the show, which screened this week, back in December. Although he appeared in 22 shows in all, he spent just seven days filming, wrapping up three or four episodes each day.

He said: “It was hard work – we were on our feet all day. But we were really well looked after and everyone I met was absolutely lovely.” He said he and his fellow contestants were planning to hold a reunion soon. His wife Carol, 51, was in the audience for Peter’s big moment. She said: “I was absolutely gutted when he opened his box and I saw what he could have won. But it was a good experience.”

The couple, who live in Attwood Close, Kings Furlong, will now put the money toward purchasing a new mobile home.

And Peter has entered the show’s Hall of Fame – for selling the most amount of money for the least amount of money.