Pros: The history of the creation of the TV quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?; a complicated criminal story, the end of which has not yet been set; demonstration of the work of the British law enforcement system; good casting Cons: The series looks like an informal apology from ITV to the Ingram family; somewhat exaggerated acting, consistent with the comedic nature of the Quiz series
Genre crime drama, comedy
Creator James Graham
Starring Matthew Macfadyen (Charles Ingram), Sian Clifford (Diana Ingram), Mark Bonnar (Paul Smith), Michael Sheen (Chris Tarrant), Ashlyn Bee (Claudia Rosencrantz), etc.
Year of release 2020
It is difficult to overestimate the insane popularity of quizzes in the UK, whose roots stretch back to traditional erudite competitions in rural pubs. It is not surprising that the very first television quiz show, Spelling Bee, appeared back in 1938 (!), also in the United Kingdom. 60 years later, by the time the first episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? In 1998, TV quiz shows became a completely commonplace phenomenon in all countries of the world, but this show, broadcast on ITV (Independent Television, the main competitor of the BBC), was able to surprise everyone, creating a real quiz fever both at home and abroad . Since 1998, there have been over 100 localized versions of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in different parts of the world, so it’s easier to list the countries where this quiz was not shown.
In the early 2000s, the whole of Great Britain froze for an hour in front of their TV screens to watch another unfortunate person unable to answer the most basic questions. However, over the sixteen-year history of the original version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (1998 – 2014) there were five people who won the maximum prize of £1 million. More precisely, six people, but the sixth winner never received his money. Bye. It is the sixth winner, Royal Engineers Major Charles Ingram and his wife Diana, who were accused of cheating during a television quiz show, that is the subject of the Quiz miniseries.
The piquancy of the situation is made by the fact that the filming of the series about the Ingram family and their “scam” was taken up by the same ITV channel, which not only has been showing the quiz Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? for 20 years. (since 2018, an updated version of the show has been released, hosted by none other than the legendary Jeremy Clarkson), and was one of the parties in the trial against the Ingrams. But that’s not all, in 2001 ITV released a special episode of the program dedicated to the scandal – Who Wants to be a Millionaire?: Major Fraud and the documentary Who Wants to Steal a Million? based on his motives, which defamed Major Ingram and his wife. Quiz, based on James Graham’s stage play of the same name, is ITV’s clumsy apology, an attempt to look at both sides of the scandal.
Quiz only has three 50-minute episodes. The first of them tells the story of the creation of the show by Celador (by the way, it was Celador who later produced Slumdog Millionaire, glorifying their own show), the overnight success of the game show and the quiz mania that swept the UK. The second series proves the guilt of the Ingram couple in conspiracy to illegally seize 1 million pounds sterling. The third is to prove the Ingrams’ innocence. Yes, the final point in this story has not yet been set; the Ingrams continue to fight for their winnings in the courts.
ITV, or more precisely, which produced Left Bank Pictures (Origin, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, The Crown, Outlander, etc.) selected an excellent cast. And even though Michael Sheen (Good Omens, The Queen, Frost/Nixon, etc.) does not look very much like the legendary TV presenter Chris Tarrant, the Ingrams are very close to the original. The modest Major Charles Ingram is played by Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice, Death at a Funeral, Anna Karenina), and his quiz-obsessed wife Diana is played by Sian Clifford (Vanity Fair and Fleabag series).
Quiz is a typical British tragicomedy, in which truly tragic episodes, such as the persecution of the Ingrams and their children, alternate with comedic and even absurd ones, such as the creation of analogue Google by members of the notorious Syndicate. Well, perhaps, after 20 years, this story is worth looking at with a little sarcasm. In any case, despite ITV’s somewhat clumsy attempt to apologize to the Ingrams and the sometimes slightly exaggerated performances of the characters, this is still a good series that, among other things, shows the work of television producers and the British justice system. If you love English TV series, we highly recommend it.
A well-made and well-executed story related to one of the most popular TV shows