There is a real irony in the first post-lockdown TV smash being about coughing, but if you can put that to one side, this is one of the most incredible, bizarre, and brillantly told true stories that you could hope to find.
Retelling the real story of Charles and Diana Ingram who were accused of cheating their way to a win on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ leading to a nationwide scandal and police investigation. The writing and directing is perfect and the tone is spot on, with a real energy being provided throughout, and the three episodes were the exact right time to tell this story in.
The casting is exceptional, with six people in particular I want to spotlight. The lead two characters of the Ingram’s are cast with ‘Succession’ star Matthew Macfadyen and ‘Fleabag’ breakout Sian Clifford, and both actors carry the show with their unique and compelling portrayals of a complex couple. Mark Bonnar, Helen McCrory, and Aisling Bea (who has proven herself to be a very talented actress) all shine in their supporting roles.
The man who has received a lot of talk, and rightly so, is Michael Sheen. He plays Chris Tarrant so perfectly that when I see Tarrant now, it is like he is doing a bad Michael Sheen impression. This was the key supporting role and if it didn’t work, the show wouldn’t either, but it not only works, it is a resounding success, and shows again what a talented character actor Sheen is.
The story is told over three consecutive nights, with the twists and turns constantly keeping you shocked, surprised and entertained. This is one of those stories that would have been too crazy to make up (just one moment is where the key ITV board meeting to decide if they need to report the Ingram’s to the police is interrupted by two planes striking the twin towers).
There is a ‘dream’ sequence featuring the Ingram’s and Chris Tarrant on the ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ set, doing a song and dance number, and it is one of the most bizarre and completely perfect moments of TV that I have seen for years.
This is British TV at its best, and I hope the industry is still in a position to make things like this once the pandemic is over.
Rating = 4.5/5