Warning: this review will contain spoilers!
If you are looking for a gripping true crime dramatisation that sometimes defies belief, then you have come to the right place. Quiz is a three-part mini-series based on the true events of couple Charles and Diana Ingram (Matthew Macfadyen and Sian Clifford) who were accused of trying to cheat on the British quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. The game works by contestants having to answer a series of increasingly challenging multiple-choice questions where the cash prize increases each time a correct answer is given. If you answer 15 questions correctly, then you can win one million pounds. Charles Ingram was a contestant on the show and was accused, just hours after winning, of conspiring with a waiting contestant, Tecwen Whittock (Michael Jibson), to cheat. Whittock was accused of coughing when the correct answer was read out. The show was written by James Graham (and was based on his play of the same name) and directed by Stephen Frears.
The pace and length of the show is done perfectly, as it gives the audience time to become invested in the characters and events and to form their own opinions of a widely known story. The first episode of the series focuses on the events leading up to the fateful quiz show, the second episode on the show itself and the events that occurred immediately afterwards, with the third episode focusing on the court case. The show cleverly walks the fine line between portraying the Ingrams as innocent or guilty and allows audiences to make up their own minds. The first couple of episodes seem to focus on how the Ingrams may have committed the crime, whereas the final episode balances this argument with focusing on the passionate arguments given by their defence lawyer, played wonderfully by Helen McCrory (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Peaky Blinders).
Amongst the many amazing actors in this series, Matthew Macfadyen (Succession, Pride & Prejudice) gave an amazing performance as Charles Ingram. Although Sian Clifford (Fleabag) is fabulous in her portrayal of his wife, Macfadyen somehow manages to take a role that many people will have vilified before the show even began and manages to inspire sympathy in the audience. I came away from the show feeling that although his decisions were misguided, he seemed a fairly likeable character.
However, this review could not be complete without mentioning the outstanding performance that Michael Sheen (Good Omens, Frost/Nixon) gave as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? host Christ Tarrant. This is just another example of how Michael Sheen seems to be a chameleon. His vocal impersonation of the host was absolutely perfect and I spent part of the series convinced that they must be using vocal recordings of Chris Tarrant. Although he has a relatively small role, his portrayal steals the show.
Quiz has somehow kept audiences gripped to their seats, despite being based on a true story where most people know the outcome. Its twists and turns, if they had been scripted, would have been completely unbelievable. The beginning of the show warns audiences that “some incidents and characters have been changed for dramatic purposes,” and so I found myself researching certain events to find out if they had been added. They all turned out to be true, including the fact that the court case was postponed due to uncontrollable coughing by the jury. It defies belief! Perhaps the show’s most impressive feat was getting a nation in isolation due to Coronavirus engrossed in a show about coughing. It is definitely a series that should not be missed!
Quiz is currently available to UK audiences on the ITV hub. It will be coming soon to the US and will debut on AMC on May 31. Check out the trailer below!
From the coveted hotseat to the courtroom! The highly anticipated series Quiz premieres tonight. Watch the gripping first episode now on @itvhub or @ITV pic.twitter.com/g3o7Ru6858
— The ITV Hub (@itvhub) April 13, 2020