Quiz: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? £5 million syndicate scam explained

Quiz sets out to adapt the real-life story of the ‘coughing major’ Charles Ingram, who was found guilty of cheating his way to the jackpot on gameshow Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Starring Spooks actor Matthew MacFayden as the major and Fleabag’s Sian Clifford as his wife Diana, the three-part drama takes viewers on a mad journey through the national hysteria the programme created.

One of the drama’s most interesting parts is ‘The Syndicate,’ a collection of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? enthusiasts who banded together to try and scam their way on to show and win big.

But, as writer James Graham explains, although it may seem a farcical invention, the syndicate was actually very, very real, and run by two men in succeeded in helping contestants win over £5 million on the show.

Was the syndicate featured in Quiz real?

The Syndicate is one of the most fascinating part of Quiz’s story, as the Ingrams find themselves entangled in a covert web of upper-middle class game show fanatics who make it their life’s work to ensure they win a spot on their favourite programme.

And it turns out, the syndicate is not a purely fictional creation on the part of writer James Graham, although he did change the name.

Speaking to the Final Answer podcast, he explained: ‘[They were] a relatively professionalised organisation that was born out of, you know, these quiz obsessives and people who just loved the show and who created what we call the syndicate.

‘In real life they were called ‘the consortium’ and we call them ‘the syndicate’. And they were run by a guy called Paddy Spooner, who we feature in a character and the show.

And I just think it’s I think it’s remarkable both because it’s really exciting to watch essentially a kind of resistance movement, both born out of incredibly polite, quite professional middle class people in these quiet English villages trying to put on a hack into a game show.’

Who were Paddy Spooner and Keith Burgess?

Actor Jerry Killick plays Paddy in the three-part adaption, and Graham enthuses that the quiz-nut is actually based on a real person, who ran the syndicate alongside Keith Burgess, who recently opened up about his role in the scam.

Speaking to The Sun, Keith insisted: ‘We weren’t doing anything wrong. We were just helping people get on the show. The Ingrams cheated so ridiculously, though, and Charles didn’t know anything at all.’

Paddy, 53, and Keith, 63, have both been contestants on the show, and later found a way to manipulate the application process, getting a 25% cut of the winnings in the process.

Specifying that there were between six and eight different syndicates, he insisted to the site: ‘They are as bad as the Ingrams.  I’m  certain that without these  syndicates, the Ingrams wouldn’t have existed.’

Previously speaking to Metro.co.uk and other press at a preview, James revealed that Charles and Diana are ‘happy’ the story is being explored.

‘We spoke to everybody [involved],’ Graham said. ‘We deliberately engaged with them very early on.’

Both Charles and Diana Ingram were found guilty on one single count of procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception and given suspended prison sentences of almost two years.

Today, the couple can be found far away from the spotlight since their well-publicised trial.

Quiz airs tonight at 9pm on iTV.

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