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Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? cheats ‘came on set during filming of TV drama’

A series about the incident begins on ITV later this month.


The Ingrams (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

The Ingrams (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

The Ingrams (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

The couple involved in the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? cheating scandal came on set during the filming of a television series about the event, according to the writer of the programme.

James Graham, who also previously wrote a play about the incident, said that the makers of the programme “spoke to all sides” while producing the series.

Army major Charles Ingram, dubbed the Coughing Major, and his wife Diana, along with their accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, were found guilty in a 2003 trial of cheating their way to the top prize in the quiz programme.

Michael Sheen stars as Chris Tarrant in the series (Matt Frost/ITV/PA)

Graham said: “I’ve mainly done political dramas in the past where there’s a level of expectation, I think, from politicians that they will face that kind of scrutiny and they’ll be dragged through the mud a little bit.

“That didn’t feel fair with the Ingrams, who might not necessarily want this story to re-emerge, so we deliberately engaged with them very early on when we were in rehearsal for the play.”

He added that the couple were invited onto the set of the TV programme, where they met the characters who were playing them.

“I think, I hope, that we are at least raising the possibility that maybe all is not quite as it seems, they seem quite pleased that this conversation is being had,” he said.

He added that the makers of the programme “wanted to be fair and balanced” and so also spoke to people at ITV about the incident.

Quiz photocall – London
Clifford plays Diana in the ITV series (Ian West/PA)

Sian Clifford, who plays Diana, said they had been “so generous with their time throughout this”.

She added: “They’ve been so sweet, and it was really important for me to not engage at all with what was written about them at the time.

“She was painted as this Lady Macbeth character and though that’s a character I’d love to play, I don’t think that’s who she is.

“She struck me as an introvert and a nerd and someone who is actually quite shy, very sweet, definitely naive, and I really wanted to get that and protect them and be sensitive towards them.

“But also protect the integrity of James’ remarkable script, which I think is completely balanced.”

Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio Awards – London
Matthew Macfadyen plays the ‘Coughing Major’ (Ian West/PA)

She added that the programme has made her see the “human side” of the couple, which she “hadn’t considered before”.

“And that is the one thing when I met her, that she does radiate this sweetness and she’s incredibly quiet and Charles sort of commands the room.

“She doesn’t say very much. But they were really thrilled that Matthew (Macfadyen) and I were playing them.”

Quiz will begin on ITV on April 13.