Celador in U.S. talks on 'Millionaire' saga
LONDON — U.K. producer Celador said Tuesday it is in talks with U.S. studios about making a movie regarding the cheating contestant who was on the U.K. version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
The producer believes the story, which was told in a 90-minute documentary on commercial broadcaster ITV Monday, has all the elements for a blockbuster in the vein of Robert Redford’s “Quiz Show,” starring Ralph Fiennes.
After a monthlong trial, which ended April 7, Major Charles Ingram, his wife Diana and friend Tecwen Whittock were found guilty of cheating to win the £1 million ($1.56 million) prize money. Whittock used coded coughs to signal the answers to Ingram during the show, it was found.
Ingram and his wife were each sentenced to 18 months in prison and each fined $23,400 plus $15,600 in costs; the prison time was suspended.
Whittock got a 12-month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay $11,700 in costs.
Played in court
The show, which was due to air Sept. 18, 2001, was seen only in court during the trial. But British viewers got an Easter treat Monday when footage was screened as part of a 90-minute documentary “Millionaire: a Major Fraud” on ITV at 9 p.m.
The program drew an audience of almost 17 million (55.9% share), the biggest for a nonsoap this year, beating “Living With Michael Jackson,” which attracted 14.1 million (54%) on Feb. 3. The figures will raise the stock of Martin Bashir, who was the interviewer in both shows.
The Ingrams, who deny any wrongdoing, have lashed out at Celador, claiming the documentary was biased because their requests to be interviewed were denied. Ingram also criticized the editing of the show, which highlighted the well-timed coughs that guided him to victory.
“I did not notice or hear any coughing on the night,” Ingram told BBC1’s Breakfast program Tuesday. “The clips that were played were wholly unrepresentative of the environment that I was sitting within.”