Back in 2001, Charles Ingram shocked the world by winning £1 million on ITV’s wildly successful game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. With question marks raised surrounding the validity of his win and plenty of scandalous buzz surrounding this in the subsequent months, Quiz is a faithful adaptation of what happened during this time, with three parts that act as the beginning, middle and end of this story.
Quiz is a surprising robust and well written venture, with an injection of humour, tension and eye-opening insights into the ITV offices through all three parts. The first tackles the inception of the game itself, with plenty of board room meetings and discussion surrounding how the game should work. Alongside this is an introduction to the Ingram family, including dysfunctional brother-in-law Adrian Pollock who lives with them and becomes the catalyst for the drama that follows.
As the game starts to become a big hit, Adrian uncovers a whole network called “The Syndicate” and what follows are several hot seat attempts before the torch is passed to a reluctant Charles Ingram.
From here, the second part sees Ingram in the hot seat and follows his rise to fame, with the game’s executive producers David Briggs and Paul Smith backstage overseeing what’s happening. The studio hands soon start to realize things are amiss thanks to Ingram’s flaky resolution and questionable method of answering the questions. Using the infamous coughing, Charles Ingram’s win brings with it the third part of this drama where his fate is sealed in court.
While question marks can be raised surrounding the validity of his win, the series itself takes a slightly different approach to the media, painting Charles Ingram as a man of quiet intelligence; someone dragged into this game reluctantly thanks to his eager wife and brother-in-law (who both had a turn in the hot-seat before him).
While the characters do a faithful enough job to recreate their real-life counterparts, it’s ultimately Michael Sheen that steals the show. His portrayal as the charismatic figurehead of Chris Tarrant at the centre of this story is incredibly well realized and his likeness is helped by the same mannerisms and a consistent charisma and likability right the way through.
Thankfully Quiz doesn’t outstay its welcome and the concise three parts, split across three nights at time of broadcast, are enough to keep you feeling satisfied with the story but also wanting just a little bit more by the end. This is a sign of a good mini-series and Quiz manages to competently weave its story with enough flair and charisma to keep things interesting.
Was Charles Ingram really the innocent party here or did he use the coughing technique to his advantage? I guess that’s the million pound question and whether we’ll ever find out the truth or not, remains to be seen. Despite all this, Quiz is well worth watching and one of the best mini-series ITV have put out in quite some time.