Fascinating ITV drama Quiz brings the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? 'Coughing Major' scandal to life
ITV’s forthcoming three-part drama Quiz tells the inside story of the infamous 'Coughing Major' controversy, which saw Major Charles Ingram accused of cheating his way to the jackpot on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Start date: When will it be on ITV?
The series will air on Easter Monday 13 April and continue on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 April at 9pm
Quiz plot: What’s in store?
The drama (opens in new tab) explores how Millionaire became a TV phenomenon in the late 1990s and how quizzers across the land battled to get onto the show. It sees Charles’ wife Diana and her brother Adrian win £32,000 each before they encourage a reluctant Charles to take part.
Against the odds, Charles wins the £1million. But the suspicious production team play back the recording and are concerned that another contestant, Tecwen Whittock, was coughing to signal the correct answers to Charles.
As the case comes to court, Tecwen and the Ingrams are found guilty of deception but the drama raises questions about what really went on…
“We’ve looked at their reactions on the show and we swing to and fro every day on set,” says Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Charles. “And we want everyone watching to be split too. We’ve even filmed slightly guilty and slightly innocent versions of scenes.”
Who’s in it?
Alongside Matthew, Sian Clifford plays Diana while Michael Sheen is Millionaire’s host Christ Tarrant. Helen McCrory plays the Ingrams’ defence QC Sonia Woodley.
Michael Jibson is Tecwen, while Trystan Gravelle is Adrian and Mark Bonnar is TV producer Paul Smith, who co-devises Millionaire and is shocked by the cheating allegations. Aisling Bea is ITV’s Entertainment Commissioner, Claudia Rosencrantz.
Quiz trailer: What does it reveal?
In the thrilling trailer, Paul Smith and his team pitch the show’s format to ITV.
Meanwhile Charles takes his place in the hot seat opposite Chris Tarrant before the fallout sees the Ingrams questioned about what occurred and then arrested. And in court, a sheepish Charles says, “I didn’t cheat”…
What else do we know?
The crew of the drama painstakingly created a replica of the original Millionaire set.
Michael Sheen wore a bald cap and then a blonde wig on top to become Chris Tarrant.
“It was hot and now I’ve got weird bleached eyebrows!,” laughs Michael. “But this gave me a respect for what a brilliant job Chris does. He’s not just presenting, he’s stage-managing the show. And he speaks so quickly - his voice is extraordinary.”
Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.
Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.
Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.
In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.
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