‘Quiz’ Game Show Drama Snags Michael Sheen and Matthew Macfadyen

Quiz stars Matthew Macfadyen and Sian Clifford
Matthew Macfadyen and Sian Clifford as Charles and Diana Ingram in ‘Quiz’

AMC and ITV’s Quiz, a three part drama inspired by a true story, will star Matthew Macfadyen, Michael Sheen, and Sian Clifford. The mini-series is based on the incredible true story of a couple who defrauded Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? by cheating while on the popular TV game show.

Matthew Macfadyen (Succession) stars as Major Charles Ingram and Sian Clifford (Fleabag) plays Diana Ingram, the couple who came up with a scheme involving coughing to win a million pounds on the British version of the series. Michael Sheen (Good Omens) plays TV presenter Chris Tarrant and Mark Bonnar (Shetland) stars as Celador Television Chairman Paul Smith.

Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders) plays Sonia Woodley QC, Michael Jibson (Hunter Killer) is Tecwen Whittock, and Aisling Bea (Finding Joy) is ITV Entertainment Commissioner Claudia Rosencrantz.

Director Stephen Frears (A Very English Scandal, Florence Foster Jenkins) reunites with his The Queen stars Sheen and McCrory for the drama. The three-parter is based on James Graham’s Oliver-nominated play. Graham (Brexit: An Uncivil War, Ink, This House) adapted his play for the mini-series.

“I was gripped by this story over 15 years ago, and I’m still gripped now. It’s a very English heist. Putting it onto stage at Chichester and the West End was such a lot of fun, and with a new team we now get to re-imagine the whole story afresh for television. I have to pay credit to the late investigative journalist Bob Woffinden, who along with James Plaskett wrote the book Bad Show that kicked the whole creative process off by asking the question – what if the Major is innocent?” said Graham.

Left Bank Pictures produces the limited drama which was commissioned by ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill.

“I am delighted to be bringing James Graham’s wonderful play Quiz to screen on ITV. It’s testament to James’ brilliant scripts that Stephen Frears is directing, which together with Left Bank Pictures producing, promises to deliver a very special drama. It’s an extraordinary and thoroughly British story and is going to be a real treat for our audience,” stated Hill.

Sarah Barnett, President of the Entertainment Networks Group at AMC Networks said, “If this tale was invented you’d think it too preposterous – the fact that it is true, and told so brilliantly, makes for an unmissable 3-part TV event that will entertain and enthrall Americans audiences every bit as much as their British counterparts. Quiz has the most remarkable bunch of talented people attached both in front of and behind the camera, and we, at AMC, are delighted to be part of it.”

Production is currently underway in London.

The Quiz Plot, Courtesy of ITV and AMC:

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 dialing 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.