Monday 23 September 2019

ITV to air Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? drama on cheating scandal

Stephen Frears will direct the three-part series.

Matthew Macfadyen and Sian Clifford in the drama (ITV/PA)
Matthew Macfadyen and Sian Clifford in the drama (ITV/PA)

By Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

The infamous Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? cheating scandal is being adapted into a TV drama starring Matthew Macfadyen and Michael Sheen.

Macfadyen will play Charles Ingram, the so-called “Coughing Major”, in Quiz, with Fleabag actress Sian Clifford as his wife Diana.

Sheen will play show host Chris Tarrant.

The drama will air on ITV, which broadcasts Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? – said to be the “most successful game show of all time”.

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Michael Sheen will play quiz host Chris Tarrant (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Former Army major Ingram, who won the top prize on the show in 2001, was found guilty in 2003 of cheating his way to the £1 million.

Ingram listened for coughs from college lecturer Tecwen Whittock, who sat in the audience, to steer him to the correct answers. Michael Jibson plays Whittock on the show.

ITV has released a first-look image of Macfadyen and Clifford, who is best known for playing Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s sister in Fleabag, in their new roles.

The drama is directed by Stephen Frears, whose credits include A Very English Scandal and The Queen.

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Helen McCrory will also star in Quiz (Jacob King/PA)

Helen McCrory, Mark Bonnar and Aisling Bea will also star in the production, penned by James Graham, whose play of the story hit the West End.

The playwright said: “I was gripped by this story over 15 years ago, and I’m still gripped now. It’s a very English heist.”

ITV’s head of drama Polly Hill said the three-part series would be “an extraordinary and thoroughly British story and is going to be a real treat for our audience”.

Programme bosses are confident the drama will be a hit with US audiences, too.

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Charles Ingram and his wife Diana (Chris Ison/PA)

Sarah Barnett, president of the Entertainment Networks Group at AMC Networks, said: “If this tale was invented you’d think it too preposterous – the fact that it is true, and told so brilliantly, makes for an unmissable three-part TV event that will entertain and enthral American audiences every bit as much as their British counterparts.

“Quiz has the most remarkable bunch of talented people attached, both in front of and behind the camera, and we at AMC are delighted to be part of it.”

Filming is currently under way in London.

PA Media

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