“It’s completely open-ended with no idea where we’ll end up or what it means for our industry,” said Clifford, who was speaking at a BAFTA-organized virtual panel on Tuesday for ITV/AMC mini-series “Quiz,” in which she stars alongside “Succession” actor Matthew Macfadyen.
“Everything I had lined up is postponed and might not even happen. I don’t know. We’ve just got to see. The most important thing is we get through it. ”
A strong performance by Clifford — who will next be seen in Sky comedy “Two Weeks to Live,” which is fortunately in post — bolsters “Quiz,” a compelling dramatization of the story of army major Charles Ingram (Macfadyen), his wife Diana (Clifford) and supposed coughing accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, who were accused of cheating on ITV’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” in the early 2000s.
The show originated in the U.K. before migrating to the U.S. on ABC, and at its peak could draw an audience of 19 million, a third of the U.K.’s population at the time.
Clifford was joined on the panel by “Quiz” writer James Graham (“Brexit”) and co-stars Macfadyen and Michael Sheen (“Good Omens”). The session was moderated by playwright Hannah Patterson (“Much”).
“It is extraordinary to have this come out in the middle of all this,” said Sheen.
“It’s an enforced pause on life; it’s very strange,” agreed Macfadyen, who stars as the scene-stealing Tom in HBO’s “Succession,” for which production is now paused. “We’re waiting to see what happens,” he said.
“Quiz,” which is being broadcast on ITV across three nights this week, concluding Wednesday, has some historical depth as well, given the episode of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” featuring Ingram was shot Sept. 9-10, 2001.
Graham said, “The day the producers gathered together to discuss whether or not he cheated was 9/11, and the meeting they were having at ITV was interrupted by the requirement to go to what was happening in New York.”
“Obviously, there’s no comparison of the scale of these two events. But I do think…something was happening at this time with our media,” said Graham, highlighting the impact of 9/11 on the media, the rise of the 24-hour news cycle, and the blurring of entertainment and news.
“It was the age of the emergence of reality television,” Graham added. “From that constricted reality genre came Donald Trump as a character in ‘The Apprentice,’ and then he goes on to be President of the United States.
“But really what you want to do with this story is not to overstate that, and just stick to what I think is a very human, very relatable story about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. ”
On Monday, “Quiz” won the 9 p.m. primetime slot with 5.3 million viewers, above BBC One drama “The Nest,” which drew an audience of 4.7 million, according to BARB figures released by overnights.tv. Tuesday night’s episode held steady, with an average of 5.4 million viewers and a peak of 5.8 million.
“Quiz,” based on Graham’s Olivier-nominated play of the same name is directed by Stephen Frears (“A Very English Scandal”). It is produced by “The Crown” producer Left Bank Pictures for ITV and AMC, where it bows May 31.