Quiz: When is it on TV? Who’s in the cast? All you need to know about new ITV drama surrounding real-life ‘coughing Major’ scandal

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is under the spotlight as James Graham’s play is adapted into a three-part series with Sian Clifford, Matthew Macfadyen, Helen McCrory and Michael Sheen.

By Sophia Moir Published: 14 April 2020 - 9.38am

Hit Play above to watch Sian Clifford and Michael Jibson from Quiz take on our millionaires and quizzes quickfire questions

The extraordinary true story of the 'coughing Major' scandal is being made into an ITV drama called Quiz.

Nineties prime-time TV show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? takes centre-stage once more in the three-part series which recalls the scandalous events when former British army major Charles Ingram was caught cheating his way to the top prize.

Quiz stars Michael Sheen, Sian Clifford, Matthew Macfadyen, Helen McCrory and Michael Jibson, and is directed by Stephen Frears (A Very English Scandal, The Queen).

Here’s what we know so far about the TV adaptation of the quiz show heist that shocked the nation.

When is Quiz on ITV? 

Quiz premieres on Monday, April 13 on ITV. It will consist of three hour-long episodes. 

Sian Clifford Matthew Macfayden ITV

Is there a trailer?

There is! Get a taste of the drama and a glimpse of Michael Sheen's uncanny portrayal of WWTBAM host Chris Tarrant in the preview clip below.

What’s Quiz about? Is it based on a true story?

Quiz is adapted from a West End play of the same name, written by James Graham. It’s based on the real-life 'coughing Major' scandal which hit the popular ITV quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 2001.

Major Charles Ingram, his wife Diana Ingram and an accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, were accused of cheating their way to a million pounds on the UK version of what was the most popular game show in the world at the time. 

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

The Ingrams were found guilty of the charge of "procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception" and sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years. 

The couple, below outside Southwark Crown Court at the time of the trial, have always maintained their innocence.

Charles and Diana Ingram Getty
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Quiz gives an insight into the creation of the show and shows Celador Television Chairman Paul Smith and one of the show’s creators, David Briggs, pitching the idea of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? to ITV’s newly installed Director of Programmes, David Liddiment.

After the show first aired in September 1998, 'Millionaire fever' gripped the nation with viewers avidly dialling the hotline to win a place on the nightly show.

Charles and Diana Ingram were amongst those who became fixated with appearing on the popular quiz show, which in its heyday attracted audiences of 19 million viewers.

The Wiltshire couple's obsession with the format led to them making multiple attempts to appear on the show, culminating in the infamous 'Coughing Major' appearance on September 9, 2001.

From Michael Sheen to Sian Clifford - who’s in the cast of Quiz?

Major Charles Ingram (Played by Matthew Macfadyen)

Charles Ingram was convicted of cheating to win the £1 million jackpot on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

A proud and eccentric army major, previously a NATO peacekeeper and trained engineer, Charles takes a desk job to bring his wife, Diana and their children closer to her family in Wiltshire. He soon learns that being reunited with his wife’s family has its drawbacks when Diana and her brother Adrian become obsessed with getting onto the TV quiz show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 

When both Adrian and Diana get on the show but fail to win the top prize, Charles finds himself reluctantly drawn into playing the game. Despite giving a patchy and unorthodox performance in the hot seat, Charles's 15-answer streak make him an unlikely millionaire. His joy, however, is short-lived when a suspicious production team accuses him of cheating, and he finds himself at the centre of a national scandal.

Major Charles Ingram is played by Matthew Macfadyen, known for roles in Succession, Ripper Street and Pride & Prejudice. 

Quiz image ITV
Quiz

Diana Ingram (Played by Sian Clifford)

After following her husband Charles across the world for his army job, teaching assistant Diana Ingram is happy to settle down close to her father and brother in sleepy Wiltshire. Moving home sees Diana and pub-quiz fanatic brother Adrian become obsessed with the TV quiz show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 

When both she and Adrian crash out of the chair after winning only £32,000, Diana pushes her unsuspecting husband Charles into entering the show. After Charles appears to guess his way to the £1 million prize, Diana is charged with being the strategist behind an alleged plot to cheat their way to the top.

Diana is played by Sian Clifford, who’s most known for her role as Claire in Fleabag, but you might also recognise her from Vanity Fair and Liar.

Chris Tarrant (Played by Michael Sheen)

Persuaded to host a risky new TV game show format called Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, the charismatic presenter finds himself at the helm of an overnight sensation. After contestant Charles Ingram is arrested, Tarrant finds himself dealing with the responsibility of being the star witness in a very different kind of arena - a criminal trial.

At first, the long-running Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? presenter didn’t believe there was anything strange about the Ingrams’ win - but later called Charles “guilty as sin” of cheating.

Chris Tarrant Getty
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Tarrant is played by Good Omens and Frost/Nixon actor Michael Sheen, who completely transforms for the role. Sheen avoided prosthetics for his transformation into the famous TV host, instead wearing a strawberry blonde wig - and watching as many episodes of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? as he could to get into character. 

Speaking via video link at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, he said: “The more I watched those episodes, the more I realised how brilliant Tarrant was. I think we know he was brilliant at it because he was such a huge success and he was so loved doing it, but watching it really forensically and to see just what he’s doing there - I mean, he’s kinda running the show.”

 

Sonia Woodley QC (Played by Helen McCrory)

A highly regarded criminal defence barrister with a dislike of trial by media, Woodley's take on the ‘coughing Major’ scandal is at odds with the rest of the nation.

Woodley takes on the Ingrams’ case just as it looks like there’s no hope left. She systematically challenges and unravels the prosecution’s case, revealing a startling new version of a story that the world had already accepted as fact. 

Woodley QC is played by Peaky Blinders, Penny Dreadful and Harry Potter actress Helen McCrory.

Quiz Helen McCrory ITV / YouTube

Tecwen Whittock (Played by Michael Jibson)

A Business Studies lecturer with a litany of coughing conditions, Tecwen Whittock worked his way up from tough beginnings to build a successful career and family life. Tecwen’s obsession with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? sees him tracking down Adrian Pollock through the electoral register, who in turn connects him with his sister Diana Ingram. 

When Diana finds out Tecwen will be on the same show as her husband Charles, several overnight calls between them sees him thrust into the centre of the cheating scandal - with the press, public and police charging him as the fateful man who coughed. Whittock was also found guilty of coughing to indicate the correct answers to Charles Ingram on the show.

He’s played by Michael Jibson, known for roles in the films Les Miserables and 1917, along with the musical Hamilton.

 

Paul Smith (Played by Mark Bonnar)

The workaholic TV producer and Chairman of Celador Television, who risks everything to make his brainchild Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? an international hit.

When obsessive fans of the show figure out how to hack its systems - turning TV for the masses into a platform for the elite pub-quizzers of Middle England - Paul will stop at nothing to protect the show. Determined to stamp out any cheating, Paul leads the investigation into the suspicious Ingram family.

He’s played by Mark Bonnar, who many fans will recognise from his roles in TV crime dramas including Line of Duty, Unforgotten and Shetland, along with comedy series Catastrophe.

Quiz Mark Bonnar ITV / YouTube

Claudia Rosencrantz (Played by Aisling Bea)

Head of Entertainment at ITV with an eye for talent, Claudia commissioned Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? after every other broadcaster had rejected it.

Rosencrantz has a front row seat not only to the show’s stratospheric success but also to the scandal of the ‘coughing Major’.

She’s played by comedian and actress Aisling Bea (This Way Up, Living With Yourself).

Where was Quiz filmed?

An exact replica of the original 1990s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? set, with a full lighting and sound rig, was reconstructed at Wimbledon Studios in London.

The producers considered using the current Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? studio in Salford, but as it was deemed too modern and up to date they decided to build their own exact replica instead.

Quiz set ITV / YouTube

Speaking about filming in the replica set, Matthew Macfadyen (who plays Major Charles Ingram) says: “The whole thing was exactly as it was. Walking on to that set for the first time was fantastic. No acting was required because you are there under the lights feeling all of that fear real contestants would have felt as they tried to get into the chair.”

The exterior court scenes were filmed outside Southwark Crown Court where the real trial took place, with the interior court scenes shot in a former court building in Hammersmith.

Watch Sian Clifford and Michael Jibson from Quiz discuss the making of the show

Quiz premieres Monday, April 13 at 9pm on ITV.

Catch up with the ITV Hub app on BT TV.