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REVIEW: Quiz needs a lifeline to keep it in the game – 3/5 stars

ITV promotional image

By Jack Walker

ITV’s new drama charts Army Major Charles Ingram and his wife Diana as they attempt to cheat Who Wants to be a Millionaire? out of its £1 million prize (or do they?). The three-part series follows Who Wants to be a Millionaire? from its inception at Celador studios through to ITV green-lighting the show and the Major becoming a millionaire. But the show isn’t all it could be.

Yes, it’s funny, and yes, it keeps you on edge to see whether the plan will succeed. Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, The Damned United) is so good at playing Chris Tarrant, the show’s longest-serving host, that one Twitter user thought the original Chris Tarrant would be doing a double-take when he watched the show. Sian Clifford (Fleabag) seems the natural choice to play the major’s wife, Diana. Mark Bonner (Catastrophe, Line of Duty) lives a life of tensions and difficult decision-making in his role as the boss of ITV at the time, Paul Smith – a role he plays to perfection.

The set design is nothing short of astounding. I struggled to believe that it wasn’t the real Who Wants to be a Millionaire? set until I saw a Tweet from the director, James Graham (who initially wrote Quiz for the stage), explaining that a full replica set had been built for the show.

But something just doesn’t feel right about it. The show jumps from the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? studios, to the ITV boardroom, to the Major training for his appearance at home, to the barracks where the Major was housed while he was in the army, to the courtroom where he, his wife and their accomplice Tecwen Whittock (Hamilton, London cast) were tried. The erratic nature of the editing makes it incredibly hard to follow the storyline.

Then there’s a subplot with a man called Paddy Spooner and a shadowy group he heads called The Syndicate. This group supposedly helped contestants get on the show for a cut of any winnings they took once they made it to the chair. But The Syndicate never helped the Ingrams, so I was confused why The Syndicate was included in Quiz. If anything, I was so distracted trying to figure out what relevance The Syndicate had that I had to watch the entire series again to try and piece it all together.

Quiz makes for a fun and exciting three-part mini-series. Each episode is only 45 minutes (excluding adverts), so in today’s binge-watch culture, hardcore viewers can watch the series in just a couple of hours. But the star-studded cast doesn’t fully make up for the jumpy nature of the timeline and the confusing nature of The Syndicate sub-plot. Give it a watch, then phone a friend and see what they think.

What do you think?