The true story of how Major Charles Ingram (played by Matthew Macfadyen) tried to cheat his way to victory on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? kicked off three-night drama Quiz tonight on ITV.
If you want to avoid spoilers for Quiz, stop reading now.
The first episode started with a news report detailing what Charles had done with the help of his wife Diana (Sian Clifford) and his friend Tecwen Whittock (Michael Jibson) while they made their way into court.
Jumping back to 1997 David Liddiment (Risteard Cooper) reported to ITV to start his new job as Head of Programming. He was met by Claudia Rosencrantz (Aisling Bea) and they talked about ‘event programming’ when Claudia mentioned a new format where the prize was £1 million.
In a room full of execs, Paul Smith (Mark Bonnar) debate the new format and he advocated that a ‘pub quiz’ style show would appeal to the British public.
At the pub that night Diana was participating in a pub quiz with her father Arthur (Tony Turner) when she received a phone call from Charles who wanted her to listen to one of their daughters playing piano.
Charles and Diana took their kids to school the next morning and talked about his new job.
At ITV Paul and David Briggs (Elliot Levey) pitched the idea to Claudia and David but David wasn’t buying it, concerned about the potential cost if people kept winning the top prize. Paul offered to take Claudia and David through the format and asked him to put in £250. David Briggs stood up and asked the questions, and as he worked through them David got more engrossed.
When David got stuck, he asked the people in the office to help him with an answer. When they didn’t have a clue, David asked to stick with his money. David was still concerned about the potential pay outs and Paul offered to take 50% of the liability.
Charles reported to work to start his new job, explaining that he wanted more normality for his family.
Paul met with Chris Tarrant (Michael Sheen) to convince him to present the show. Chris was reluctant but Paul worked his charm and he agreed to make a pilot for Cash Mountain, the concept that Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? was based on.
Following the filming Paul and David appealed to David Liddiment to let them make the format a bit darker. He agreed it looked rubbish and said he didn’t like the name but told them he was going to run it over consecutive nights on ITV.
Paul took the set design team to share his vision and he heard a lighting technician singing Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, which inspired the name change for the show.
Back at the Ingram house, Diana ushered Charles into the house where her brother Adrian (Trystan Gravelle) was waiting so they could watch the first episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? They argued over pizza before sitting down to watch the show.
The first contestant walked away with £64,000 and Paul complained in the control room that the tension wasn’t enough. The next contestant, Rachel, was selected after winning an audience quiz and we saw the Ingrams guessing the answers at home. Rachel got stuck after banking £8,000 so she called her father but he didn’t know the answer. He told her to take the money and that’s exactly what she did.
Before Chris let he go, he asked her what answer she would have picked and when she said the right one, he told her that she could have doubled her money. At the end of the show Chris appealed for people to call in to apply to take part and Adrian grabbed the phone.
Following the first episode, Claudia told her colleagues that they had hit 9 million viewers. As the show went on during the week, the ratings shot up and Adrian managed to get on as a contestant. He asked Diana if she would be his guest and the action jumped to them talking to other contestants in the production canteen. A woman gave him a number that she said would help them get onto the show.
In the studio Adrian tried to battle his competitors for a chance to be on the show but he failed. Meanwhile the show won countless awards and the ratings continued to climb. David Briggs told Paul that Disney were interested in the format and ITV sold it to them.
Adrian panicked as he looked through his overdue bills and called the number he had been given when trying to get on the show. The person at the other end was a man called Paddy Spooner (Jeremy Killick).
Paddy and Adrian met in the pub and it was revealed that Paddy had successfully appeared on three different versions of the show across the world. He told Adrian that a community called The Syndicate, was emerging to attempt to break into the show and they were swapping answers when they tried to get onto the show. Paddy told Adrian to pretend he wasn’t in if the producers called to allow time for him to get to his house and help him get the right answers.
We then saw Paddy pretending to be someone’s cousin who had made it onto the show, while sat in a room with members of The Syndicate. He told Adrian that his services would mean he was owed 20% commission on the winnings. Adrian continued to try and get on the show but fell at the last hurdle. He built his own quiz machine at home so he could practice and get his speed up.
David Briggs and Paul noticed that the contestants were starting to repeat and they decided they had to tell Chris. Adrian managed to win his chance to play the main game and used a phone a friend to call his dad. Arthur gave him the wrong answer meaning that Adrian walked away with £32,000.
After the show, he came clean to Charles and Diana about his financial woes and he showed them the preparation he’d done for the show. Charles told Adrian that he thought it was cheating but Adrian had already convinced Diana to try out for the show.
Following the first contestant winning a million, Adrian was approached by Tecwen Whittock asking if he could buy the machine he’d made.
Diana then made it into the hot seat on the show and the producers and Chris were concerned when they realised she was Adrian’s brother. She also reached £32,000 after getting a question wrong.
At home she told Charles she was giving a chunk of the money to Adrian to help him with his business. Charles wasn’t happy with the news.
Concerns were raised at ITV that the format was getting boring and that a network of contestants were working together to get on the show. David Liddiment told his team to get the problem sorted.
Adrian freaked out over his debts and afterwards Charles assured Diana that her brother would be fine. Diana suggested that Charles should go on the show and it caused a row. A call went to answerphone and it was the production team telling Charles he was through to the next stage of the application. Diana revealed that she had signed him up.
The action moved back to the court room as the prosecutor promised to outline what the Ingrams did to cheat their way to £1 million.
As Charles took his seat in the studio, Tecwen was on hand to cough and Diana waited anxiously in the audience.
Read our preview of Quiz episode 2
Quiz continues at 9pm tomorrow (Tuesday 14th April) on ITV.