One of the challenges surrounding AMC and ITV drama Quiz, which explores the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? cheating scandal in the UK, was how it was going to portray the television executives at the center of it.
The show, produced by The Crown producer Left Bank and starring Succession’s Matthew Macfadyen, The Good Fight’s Michael Sheen and Fleabag’s Sian Clifford, tells the story of Charles Ingram, a former British army major, who 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? It tells how Ingram, his wife Diana and an accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, who was sitting in the audience, allegedly pulled off the on-screen heist before being caught and standing trial.
Aisling Bea, star of Hulu’s This Way’s Up, plays ITV Entertainment boss Claudia Rosencrantz and Catastrophe star Mark Bonnar plays Paul Smith, Chairman of Celador Television and creator of Millionaire.
Creator James Graham said, “It’s quite easy to make TV people look pretentious and smug on TV, but that’s the trope. They just run around in suits and they’re really metropolitan and cutting and smug, and I don’t think that’s very interesting. So, I tried to humanize them and make them people with vulnerabilities and doubts and uncertainties and desires like everyone else.”
Graham added that one of the things that fascinated him was that he didn’t think there were any bad guys in Quiz. “To this day, Paul Smith still believes that they are guilty, and he believes that very passionately. Whether it was the coughing, whether it was something else, he’s convinced that people came into the thing that he created, sold around the world, and that these people are trying to destroy that. So he feels that very keenly. And I think if you represent that honestly and sincerely, then he might be wrong, but he believes it. Similarly, the Ingrams are a normal people who go through this extraordinary story where they’re thrown into the limelight. They’re made an international laughing stocks, and they’re on trial for their freedom. They may get sent to jail if they’re found guilty. You try and create three-dimensional people,” he added.
Graham was appearing at AMC’s day at the Winter TCA press tour alongside Clifford and Sheen.
Graham and Clifford teased that there they discovered new evidence in the case during the production of the drama. Graham said, “I discovered a whole network of obsessed quiz fans who tried to and successfully hacked into the show. It’s like the hole in the Death Star that Luke Skywalker found, and it was the most valuable asset the network had, and there were these fundamental weaknesses that meant a certain network of very well-to-do, middle-class dweebs were allowed to find vulnerabilities into it and get their people on the show. Some of the things that we discovered in making it in the past few months has never come to light, and we’re going to be revealing in the show about quite how successful they were in penetrating Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”