AMC drama revisits 'Millionaire' quiz show coughing scandal

Any misconduct that hooked up to ABC’s “Who Desires to Be a Millionaire” used to be of the lawn—selection industry sort. All through the quiz’s display preliminary 1999-2002 run, the community milked the surprising hit with nightly airings till its scores crashed.

Then there used to be the lawsuit over the display’s earnings that yielded a $269 million verdict, plus pastime, in opposition to ABC’s mother or father corporate, Disney.

British TV, which originated the sequence, simply crowned the ones company offenses. In 2001, a husband and spouse had been accused of dishonest their solution to the highest million-pound prize — allegedly coughing up the proper multiple-choice solutions through openly signaling with precisely that, a cough.

The headline-making bankruptcy is the foundation of AMC’s “Quiz,” a three-part drama that appears at Charles and Diana Ingram and their painful fall with a deft mixture of satire and expansive humanity. Starring Matthew Macfadyen, Sian Clifford and Michael Sheen, the sequence debuts 10 p.m. EDT Sunday, with the concluding episodes airing at nine p.m. EDT on June 7 and 14.

Author James Graham mentioned he meant to put across greater than a query of whether or not justice used to be achieved, each within the sequence and in his play of the similar title that debuted in London in 2017.

The tale used to be “a vessel to discover thematically the problem of fact and truth and info on your nation and my nation, each to the presidential election and the Brexit referendum, which is the time I began scripting this,” he mentioned. “I believe all of us changed into an increasing number of nervous that there used to be a combat going down, and the combat used to be over whether or not or now not anything else may just ever be confirmed to be no doubt true or no doubt false ever once more.”

The purpose used to be to try this with a mild contact, mentioned Graham. (He additionally expressed hope that the “nasty cough” central to the saga does not solid a pandemic-era shadow.)

Like many within the U.Okay. and past, he used to be conscious about the criminal and tabloid ordeals of Charles Ingram, who used to be a big within the British military, and his spouse, who had been convicted in each boards. Greater than a decade later, Graham’s pastime used to be re-ignited through a e-book for that argued for the pair’s innocence. (Ultimate month, an legal professional for the Ingrams mentioned they intend to enchantment their conviction).

The ensuing play and TV drama take a nuanced, if now not essentially exculpatory, view of occasions.

Graham remembers gazing “Who Desires to Be a Millionaire” as a teen and being “transfixed through what, looking back, turns out like a slightly easy idea of questions and solutions.”

He borrows a line from the sequence to give an explanation for why his country would possibly have embraced pub quizzes and minutiae nights extra temporarily than others: They mix the “two nice British loves, ingesting and being proper.”

Then got here the not going TV plot twist, with a “slightly strange couple attempting to succeed in this strange factor of stealing one million kilos like you might from a financial institution vault,” Graham mentioned. “But it surely used to be a sport display, reside, in entrance of cameras and microphones and studio lighting and an target market.”

Audience percentage his fascination. When “Quiz” aired final month on U.Okay. community ITV, the house of “Who Desires to Be a Millionaire,” it drew large scores together with enthusiastic evaluations. The mission teamed Graham, at age 37 already a Tony Award nominee for “Ink,” with veteran director Stephen Frears, a two-time Oscar nominee (“The Queen,” “The Grifters”).

Macfadyen, megastar of “Succession” and 2005’s “Delight & Prejudice,” and Clifford, who performed Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s sibling in “Fleabag,” painting the Ingrams, with Sheen (“Masters of Intercourse”) because the quiz display’s longtime host, Chris Tarrant.

Clifford mentioned she pushed aside the entirety she had heard and browse in regards to the couple after she gained the script.

“You don’t need to dig very deep into this tale to appreciate there was an injustice of types,” she mentioned, “whether or not or now not you suppose they’re accountable, however without a doubt in relation to truthful remedy as human beings through the media and through the general public or even the best way they had been handled within the court docket, which I believe is appalling.”

Graham approached the couple’s portrayal with “care and style” and examines occasions in a balanced method, person who “raises extra questions than it offers us solutions,” she mentioned. “I believe that’s thrilling.”

Macfadyen mentioned portraying the Ingrams and their dating changed into extra vital than whether or not they scammed the display, even though he and Clifford did move from side to side at the factor.

“As to his guilt or innocence, I don’t know,” the actor mentioned of Charles Ingram. “I actually don’t know, is the fair resolution.”


AP Author Alicia Rancilio in New York contributed to this document.


Lynn Elber may also be reached on Twitter at

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