Discover his inspiration for the children’s story about a cheeky little fellow with big dreams of being in the spotlight.
The latest play by James Graham, the mind behind recent acclaimed West End plays Labour Of Love, Ink and This House, tells the tale of the Coughing Major Scandal which saw Major Charles Ingram controversially win the one million pound jackpot on ITV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
Now running at London’s Noel Coward Theatre, here’s what you need to know about the highly entertaining West End show Quiz.
In September 2001, shortly before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Major Charles Ingram won the jackpot on ITV’s landmark quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. His victory however was short-lived as producers discovered some irregularities when rewatching the recording, leading them to believe that Ingram had cheated his way to success. His accused accomplices were wife Diana, who was watching in the studio from the family and friends seat, and fellow contestant Tecwen Wittock.
The play, a dramatised retelling of the story, focusses on the life of Charles and Diana Ingram, the build up to the event, and the subsequent trial.
Quiz effortlessly floats from outright fun to serious commentary. Asking the theatre audience to decide over the accused’s guilt means visitors are able to critically analyse proceedings during the unfolding case. Yet the show is also filled with serious entertainment value, from a rapid and high octane run-through of TV quiz history, to flashbacks to the bubbling romantic relationship between central couple Charles and Diana Ingram.
The story of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire scandal is enough to keep theatre goers glued to their seats, but the added context gives the show its heart. It places the media storm generated by the Ingram’s in modern times, making comparisons between that and the manipulated facts that dominate TV channels nowadays.
Above all else, it’s thoroughly enjoyable. The power is placed, quite literally, in the audiences’ hands. There are sincere moments, laugh out loud jokes, and political and social commentary, all unfolding during one of TV history’s most compelling tales.
The roles of Charles and Diana are played by Olivier Award nominee Gavin Spokes (Against, Carousel, Guys and Dolls) and Whatsonstage Award nominee Stephanie Street (Nightwatchman, Behind The Beautiful Forevers, Constellations). They are joined by Sarah Woodward and Paul Bazely as the defence and prosecution lawyers, Kier Charles as an impressively accurate Chris Tarrant, Greg Haiste as the brain behind Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and more.
The stellar performances take audiences into the midst of the controversy, while investigating the impact of incomplete information.
Write James Graham is a well known West End collaborator, having recently penned political and socially charged plays Labour Of Love, Ink and This House. On Quiz he pulls together his critical eye with a clear love and understanding of light entertainment, examining the relationship of alternative facts and fake news whilst telling the turbulent tale of Charles Ingram.
We caught up with James ahead of the show’s opening to find out more. Check out our interview below:
“An extremely fun evening!” ★★★★★ – TimeOut
“James Graham is the playwright who can do no wrong” ★★★★ – Evening Standard
“One thing’s for sure, though – Quiz is a winner!” ★★★★ – The Times
“With its mix of populism, personal tragedy, politics, and even a pub quiz, this is sure to be another hit for a playwright on a roll” ★★★★ – Independent
Quiz is now open at London’s Noel Coward Theatre, booking until the 16 June 2018.
Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.