Featuring Sian Clifford from Fleabag and Matthew Macfadyen from Succession, the mini-series Quiz probably already has your attention, but allow me to spill some English Breakfast tea, because the mystifying true story behind Quiz and the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire coughing scandal is, like, some Zodiac killer sh*t. This really happened, and we really still don’t know what exactly happened.
Wait, tell me what happened.
The true crime story at the heart of the AMC and ITV mini-series started when Major Charles Ingram won Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in 2001 and days later was arrested with his wife Diana for cheating. Yes, their names really are Charles and Diana. According to The Independent, Diana and her brother had competed on the series before and she helped train her husband in button pressing before his appearance.
But how did they do it?!
Producers became suspicious when Charles’ behavior on the show seemed weird, and his correct final answers didn’t match any of his guesswork. Remember how a big part of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is talking the question out? He even went so far as to say he’d never heard of a particular song, and then managed the name the singer out of nowhere.
The show’s producers also noticed that the guy waiting to go on after Charles, named Tecwen Whittock, would cough every time Charles would say a correct answer out loud and blow his nose when Charles was thinking about choosing a wrong answer. Whittock was arrested as a suspected accomplice along with Charles and Diana and the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire episode was not aired as planned.
Okay so WHAT IS THE TRUTH?
So they totally cheated, right? Case closed? WRONG! Five years later, one of the journalists who covered the trial started having doubts. James Graham, who wrote Quiz and was once convinced of the Ingrams’ guilt, is no longer so sure. DUN DUN DUN!! The Ingrams became publicly mocked—in a brutal way that fans of the royal family know the British tabloids do best—and infamous instead of famous when they were put on trial. FWIW, all three people in the real-life situation were convicted, but none of them ended up serving any jail time. A lawyer for the couple is looking into appealing their case all these years later. Apparently there’s a thing now called cough analysis. Who knew!
They claim their innocence to this day. Maybe there was no big conspiracy and they really did win out of dumb luck. Maybe a cough is just a cough. My sincerest apologies for the following Dad joke, but it seems like in the case of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire coughing scandal there is no… final answer.
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