Viewers have been glued to their screens this week by the three-part ITV series Quiz, which followed the infamous scandal of ‘Coughing Major’ Charles Ingram.
Ingram and his wife, Diana, were convicted — alongside co-conspirator Tecwen Whittock — in 2003 of cheating to win the top prize on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.
The trio were convicted of executing a scheme in which Whittock, who was awaiting his own opportunity to appear in the hotseat, would cough in the studio when Ingram read out the correct answers.
All three have maintained their innocence ever since and, in the final episode of Quiz, Millionaire host Chris Tarrant (played by Michael Sheen) turned to the camera and asked whether the Ingrams truly were guilty.
It was a moment taken directly from the show’s source material — a theatre production in which the live audience were asked to vote on the guilt of the Ingrams.
The play’s writer, James Graham, also wrote the TV series, which was directed by The Queen helmer Stephen Frears.
Toby Tarrant, son of Chris, said he enjoyed the show, but believes the Ingrams were “guilty as sin”, despite the questions raised in the programme.
Actor and comedian Aisling Bea, who starred in Quiz as ITV Controller of Entertainment Claudia Rosencrantz, declared meanwhile that she thinks the couple were innocent.
Really enjoyed #Quiz
Michael Sheen will rightly get the headlines but the entire cast was immense
Don't let the last episode fool you, the Ingram's were guilty as sin, but I know that doesn't make great TV
Hopefully @ITV will put out the original documentary at some point 👍👍
— Toby Tarrant (@tobytarrant) April 15, 2020
Oh GAD. ITS BREXIT ALL OVER AGAIN. I think they’re innocent if you’re asking me, not Claudia. This was us up at the top of the airless courtroom in the deep heat of August last year. #Quiz
(And yes I really am this white but legally not a ghost and I still have to pay tax) 👻 pic.twitter.com/t7MvOfPiC7
— Aisling Bea (@WeeMissBea) April 15, 2020
The debate on social media is raging between viewers who are certain that the Ingrams did what they were convicted of doing, with others swayed towards the idea that they were effectively set up.
Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis and comedian Rachel Parris were among those questioning their beliefs in the wake of the programme’s drama.
Are we all now wondering if they weren’t guilty now ? or is that just what excellent drama does .. #Quiz
— emily m (@maitlis) April 15, 2020
— Rachel Parris (@rachelparris) April 15, 2020
Me, an idiot, three days ago: Charles Ingham? Huh? Oh I *think* I remember .. the coughing guy
Me, enlightened, today: Charles Ingram was not guilty! Clear cause for reasonable doubt! Mensa badge! Miscarriage of justice! #Quiz
— Katie French (@journokatie) April 15, 2020
Do I think Charles Ingram was guilty? Yes I do, he should have stopped at £250,000 because the £500,000 question exposed the whole
Do I think Charles Ingram deserved to have his family bullied, his pets attacked and killed and constant mockery? No way #Quiz
— Alex Williams (@SuperAlexKart) April 15, 2020
I mean I don’t understand how Charles Ingram and his wife got found guilty??? So much evidence to suggest they were innocent? What were the jury thinking! #Quiz
— lauren (@laurenoakley_) April 15, 2020
In the wake of the show’s success — more than five million people watched the first episode on Monday — the Ingrams are set to pursue a new appeal.
Human rights lawyer Rhona Friedman, who represents the couple, claimed to The Guardian that new technology for analysing the coughing will shed new light on the case.
Read more: Sheen says he gets mistaken for Simon Pegg
Fans have called for ITV to broadcast Ingram’s game of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire in full for the first time, following the popularity of Quiz.
The episode was never shown due to the suspicions of cheating, but excerpts were aired by ITV during a documentary about the scandal.
ITV told Metro that it currently has no plans to show the Charles Ingram game.