Quiz continues ITV’s run of dramas with one-word, non-descript titles, and I wish they would make them stand out more.
This one focuses on the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? scandal from 2001 when Major Charles Ingram won the top prize, but was found to have cheated thanks to a serious bout of coughing (always best avoided in the current times), and electrical impulses via a device strapped to his leg.
This three-parter runs over consecutive nights and begins with the opening of the 2003 trial, before going back to 1997 as Director of Programmes David Liddiment comes to start at ITV, and is greeted by Aisling Bea playing Aisling Bea, as usual, before we get onto the meat of the fact that the Millionaire gameshow is just about to be born.
When it comes to the leads, though, Matthew Macfadyen looks nothing like Charles Ingram, while Sian Clifford is a dead ringer for his wife, Diana. Michael Sheen also does a decent comic turn as Chris Tarrant.
This drama also takes in Diana’s brother, Adrian Pollock, who first applied to go on the show, and you can see how it drives him potty while Charles is still fairly ambivalent about everything.
Despite my reservations about the title, Quiz is also the name given to the play on which this series was partly based, and also by this show’s writer, James Graham. The other source was the book, Bad Show: The Quiz, The Cough, The Millionaire Major.
Prior to broadcast, only the first two episodes of this have been made available, so while the outcome in this drama will be one to discover live, we already know what happened in the real-life tale.
So far, this is an interesting diversion of a drama with decent acting, but it’s far from essential viewing. Plus, the electrical impulses aspect of it hasn’t come into it, so am I confusing this situation with another one, or is it a case of the fact this is ‘based on the Coughing Major’ situation, rather than being a straight documentary?
UPDATE Episode 3: Okay, so it wasn’t electrical impulses as such, but something else and I wasn’t dreaming about it. I’ll add that after the episode has been broadcast.
However, overall, this does feel like it’s 2 episodes of content dragged out over 3 episodes. They could’ve done that and made the midpoint the point at which Charles gives the £1m answer and says “Don’t go to a break” and then they do. In the drama, though, they did resolve that before the break proper, but that’s where I’d have put it anyway.
Quiz begins on Monday April 13th at 9pm. The series is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD. However, you can buy the book, Bad Show: The Quiz, The Cough, The Millionaire Major.
After broadcast, each episode will be on the ITV Hub.
Director: Stephen Frears
Producer: Alice Pearse
Writer: James Graham
Music: Murray Gold
Charles Ingram: Matthew Macfadyen
Diana Ingram: Sian Clifford
Paul Smith: Mark Bonnar
Chris Tarrant: Michael Sheen
Andrew Pollock: Trystan Gravelle
Nicola Howson: Jasmyn Banks
Claudia Rosencrantz: Aisling Bea
Ruth Settle: Seraphina Beh
David Liddiment: Risteard Cooper
Lionel from Legal: Paul Bazely
Mike Whitehall: Matt Blair
Stu Bloomberg: Mark Byrne
Steve Knight: Keir Charles
Quiz Master: Martin Alexander
ITV Receptionist: Gracy Goldman
Kevin Duff: Andrew Leung
Arthur Pollock: Tony Turner
Lt Col Village: Geoff McGivern
Nicholas Hilliard QC: Nicholas Woodeson
Maggie: Sarah Woodward
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.