Sunday 15 September 2019

Aisling Bea to star in new ITV series about 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' cough scandal

Comedian Aisling Bea
Comedian Aisling Bea
Aisling Bea (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Aisling Bea. Photo: Karla Gowlett
Aisling Bea attends the Glamour Women of The Year awards 2017 at Berkeley Square Gardens on June 6, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Aisling Bea attends the British Independent Film Awards held at Old Billingsgate on December 10, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
Aisling Bea attends the 13th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards on March 1, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Aisling Bea attends the BBC America BAFTA Los Angeles TV Tea Party 2017 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on September 16, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Lynne Kelleher

IRISH actress Aisling Bea has landed a starring role as an ITV boss in a new series on one of Britain's biggest telly scandals.

The comedian will play the station's entertainment commissioner Claudia Rosencrantz in the drama, telling the story of how English couple Charles and Diana Ingram attempted an audacious heist on the quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

The Kildare actress, who is currently winning critical acclaim for her Channel 4 comedy This Way Up, is part of a star-studded cast signed up to Quiz, which will be helmed by Philomena and High Fidelity director Stephen Frears.

Matthew Macfadyen stars as Major Charles Ingram, while Michael Sheen will play TV presenter Chris Tarrant and Sian Clifford will play Diana Ingram in the three-part drama.

Waspish one-liners: Aisling Bea, Sorcha Cusack and Sharon Horgan in This Way Up
Waspish one-liners: Aisling Bea, Sorcha Cusack and Sharon Horgan in This Way Up

Peaky Blinders actress Helen McCrory plays Sonia Woodley QC in the series, which is a co-production between ITV and AMC.

It centres on the story of contestant Charles Ingram, his wife Diana and an accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, who was sitting in the audience.

Aisling Bea (Ian West/PA)
Aisling Bea (Ian West/PA)

All three were accused of cheating their way to £1m on what was the most popular game show in the world in 2001.

The couple stood trial for conspiring by coughing during the recording to signify the correct answers to the multiple-choice questions posed to Ingram by host Tarrant.

Quiz, which has started filming in London, will give an insight into what went on behind the scenes of the global TV smash, which first aired in September 1998.

Based in a sleepy Wiltshire village, Charles and Diana Ingram were among those who became fixated with appearing on the popular quiz show.

Their obsession led to multiple attempts to take part by both Charles and Diana and eventually the infamous Coughing Major appearance on September 9, 2001, which has gone down in TV folklore.

A subsequent documentary, Millionaire: A Major Fraud, fronted by Martin Bashir, followed in 2003.

The television script has been adapted from the Olivier-nominated play of the same title.

AMC's Sarah Barnett said: "The fact that it is true, and told so brilliantly, makes for an unmissable three-part TV event."

Read more: The week in TV: The gags come at a price in Aisling Bea's This Way Up but they’re worth every penny

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