The extraordinary and sensational story of how Charles and Diana Ingram attempted an ‘audacious heist’ on the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is to be told in a three-part drama, Quiz announced on ITV.
Major Ingram, his wife Diana and an accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, who was sitting in the audience, were accused of cheating their way to a million pounds on what was, the most popular game show on earth 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 the Major by host, Chris Tarrant.
Quiz gives an insight into what went on behind the scenes as Celador Television Chairman, Paul Smith and one of the show’s creators, David Briggs, originally pitched the idea of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? to ITV’s newly installed Director of Programmes, David Liddiment.
First airing September 1998, Millionaire fever voraciously gripped the nation with viewers avidly dialling the hotline to win a place on the show which ITV stripped nightly across its schedule to ramp up the excitement.
Based in a sleepy Wiltshire village, 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 to ITV.
Their obsession and fascination with the format led to multiple attempts to appear on the show for both Charles and Diana and led to the infamous ‘Coughing Major’ appearance on 9 September 2001, which has sensationally gone down in television folklore.
A subsequent documentary Millionaire: A Major Fraud, fronted by Martin Bashir, followed in 2003 attracted 17 million viewers, setting a new record for a factual programme on ITV.