Fleabag’s Sian Clifford has revealed that “it wasn’t hard to empathise” with the so-called “coughing major” Charles Ingram and his wife Diana, whose alleged quiz show heist is the subject of a new ITV drama.
Clifford plays Diana Ingram in Quiz, which dramatises the coughing scandal that rocked Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? during the early Noughties. Both she and co-star Matthew Macfadyen (who plays Charles) met the real-life Ingrams in preparation for their roles.
“It was really important for me to not engage at all with what was written about them at the time,” Clifford said, “and you know, she [Diana Ingram] was painted as this kind of Lady Macbeth character, and though that’s a character I’d love to play, I don’t think that’s who she is, and she struck me as an introvert… someone who’s quite sweet, definitely naive.”
Speaking at a press event shortly after Caroline Flack’s death by suicide, Clifford said that Quiz shines a light on “the human cost” of the Ingram case, as the couple were harassed by both the press and public following the scandal.
“[Previously I] didn’t consider the human cost, the other side of it, [the] press harassment – it’s pretty timely that this is coming out, and I hope this contributes to that conversation,” she said.
“You don’t need to dig very deep to find out what happened to them. I mean they were persecuted and harassed by the press but also by the public, their pet animals were all attacked, their dog was killed, I mean it’s pretty gruesome. Their children were bullied so much they had take them out of school. It’s quite extreme, and so it wasn’t hard to empathise, honestly.”
She continued: “[It was] pretty rough going, and you see a lot more of that part of the tale in the episode three. It’s very focused on the [Ingram] family, and it was really emotional for me to watch it, it was really emotional for us to film those scenes. Yeah, it’s pretty shocking.”
Quiz starts on Sunday May 31 at 10/9c on AMC