Quiz follows the rise of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and the British couple charged with gaming the game show in order to win the million dollars. If you binge-watched McMillions and were hungry for a dramatized version of the underdogs pulling off an Ocean’s Eleven-style caper, tune in to AMC tomorrow night for the first episode of the three-episode miniseries.
It’s a well-known story that (much like McMillions) may have been overshadowed by the events of September 11, 2001 and lost to the news cycle shuffle. After winning a million pounds on from September 9 to 10, 2001, there was a strong suspicion that Charles Ingram had cheated the trivia show by listening to a specific series of coughs that dictated the correct answer. The episodes would never air, but they can be found on Youtube.
Bob Woffinden, a British investigative journalist, and James Plaskett, a writer, wrote Bad Show: the Quiz, the Cough, the Millionaire Major originally documenting the Ingrams’ story in 2015. James Graham, the show’s writer, originally adapted the book into a play, which shares its name with the show. Stephen Frears was brought on to direct.
While Quiz has already aired in the UK, the circumstances of watching the show are peculiar as people continue to shelter-in-place and quarantine because of the current COVID-19 crisis. By staying primarily at home, conditions are mimicking the nostalgic must-see tv that Who Wants to Be a Millionare? was in its heyday.
Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Charles Ingram, learned to portray the man by watching past documentaries and Sian Clifford, who plays Diana Ingram, looked at the limited, but rich, source material in learning to play Diana. She tried to ignore the tabloid sensationalism around the couple and credited Graham for his time spent with the Ingrams for more insight into how they should be portrayed. Macfadyen and Clifford didn’t meet the actual couple until the last day of filming to avoid any influences to their portrayals, but they found the Ingrams to be sweet people.
Michael Sheen, who plays the iconic Chris Tarrant and is nearly unrecognizable in the role, didn’t meet Tarrant for the first time until after Quiz. However, Sheen grew up watching Tarrant on television, including on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and credits the set designers with true immersion into the show – complete with lighting and sound effects found on the original show’s set. Macfadyen chimed in to say that there was no imagination required for believing you were sat on the actual set of the show.
James Graham specifically wrote Quiz to feel like a heist, especially since the Ingrams maintain their innocence to this day. He was aiming to portray the tension of – if they stole one million pounds – pulling off their feat live, in front of a studio audience, and with the whole of the UK watching. It was also meant to be written in a way to protect the Ingrams from more media scrutiny, but Graham revealed that Charles actually live-tweeted along with the premiere of Quiz in the UK – which was surprising, but entertaining.
Quiz is a sensationalized re-telling of an infamous game show moment with fantastic acting and plenty of tension. Viewers can catch episode one of Quiz premiering tomorrow on AMC at 10/9 c, with the entire series ready for binging on AMC Premiere immediately.