EXCLUSIVE: Charles Ingram, a former British army major, caused a major scandal in the early 2000s after being caught cheating his way to winning £1 million on the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? The incident has been turned into a stage play, Quiz, by rising British writer James Graham and is now set to make its own way to television after Left Bank Pictures began developing it into a drama.
The Crown producer is working with Graham — best known for political plays including This House and Ink, the story of a young Rupert Murdoch launching The Sun newspaper — to turn the play into a short TV drama. I hear Sony-backed Left Bank is looking to turn the play into a stand-alone drama, or a two-parter with Graham attached to adapt for the small screen.
Quiz, which started with a sold out run at Chichester Festival Theatre, is a provocative re-examination of the case against the coughing major, a fictional imagination based on real events which took place in 2001.
The play stars Gavin Spokes (Utopia) as Ingram, Stephanie Street (Primeval) as wife Diana Ingram and Keir Charles (Love Actually) as Chris Tarrant, who hosted the ITV game show. It shows how the pair concocted the scheme to win the top prize, but were subsequently convicted of “procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception” in 2003, two years after the controversial win.
The play has not been produced in connection with the makers of the show or the individuals portrayed, but the timing is interesting as ITV has just brought back the long-running game show, which was canceled in 2014. Former Top Gear host and The Grand Tour star Jeremy Clarkson is fronting a new run of the show with Sony-backed Stellify Media producing.
Graham is a prolific playwright and has also written a number of TV and film projects. He wrote ITV drama Caught in a Trap and Channel 4 drama Coalition, about the forming of the coalition government in 2010, as well as writing an episode of ITV’s Billie Piper-fronted Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
His film X and Y, the story of young math prodigies on a trip to China, was produced by Origin Pictures and BBC Films and starred Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins and Eddie Marsan in 2015, and he is currently working with director Paul Greengrass on an adaptation of 1984 and a feature version of Mikey Walsh’s memoir Gypsy Boy with Morgan Matthews for BBC Films.
Quiz is set to open a new run in London at the Noël Coward Theatre in April.