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Big Moments In Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – The Fraudster

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is the most successful British gameshow of all time. At its peak it pulled in millions of viewers every week, all eager to watch the latest contestant test their knowledge for the big prize.  The brand has been exported and reworked into numerous TV shows across the world, formed the basis of many pub quiz machines and board games, and even popped up online in a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Megaways™ slot.

This scintillating TV show is returning to our screens on ITV from 1st January 2019.

So we thought, what better time to remember one of its more controversial and infamous contestants, the man who was convicted of defrauding the show of its £1,000,000 top prize, Major Charles Ingram.


Charles Ingram on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire

On 9th September 2001, three years after the first episode of the famous gameshow was aired on ITV, Ingram was a contestant. After reaching the £4,000 mark and using two of his three ‘lifelines’ during the first of two shows he appeared in, the production team didn’t rate his chances of making it to the top prize. However, the Major went on to answer all further questions correctly and bag the £1,000,000 jackpot on 10th September.

But controversy followed quickly when employees of the production company Celador accused Ingram of using an accomplice in the audience, Tecwen Whittock, who they claim identified the correct answer by coughing when it was read out.

A trial at Southwark Crown Court ensued and Charles and his wife, Diana (no joke), were both convicted of ‘procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception’ in April 2003.

Charles and Diana Ingram

During the trial, Whittock denied involvement, claiming that he had a persistent cough throughout his life, aggravated on the day by hay fever and dust in the studio.

At another point in the trial one of the show’s researchers, Eve Winstanley, gave evidence. She told the court that after winning the prize, both Ingram and his wife appeared agitated in the dressing room, and had been overheard arguing.

In the end, after the jury’s three and a half days of deliberations and the guilty verdict being read, both Ingrams and Whittock were given suspended prison sentences. The Ingrams were also ordered to pay fines and legal feeds amounting to £115,000. Ingram was later ordered to resign his military commission by the Army Board.

Following various appeals, the Major’s fine and court costs were reduced to £25,000.

In an interesting foot note to the story, in 2003 Ingram was convicted of insurance fraud and given a conditional discharge at Bournemouth Crown Court after claiming £30,000 for an alleged burglary at his home.

He has also appeared in more TV shows, including The Weakest Link, Wife Swap and Hell’s Kitchen!

More Interesting Facts About Who Wants To Be a Millionaire

  • The original show was first aired in September 1998. 30 series were aired between then and February 2014, all hosted by Chris Tarrant.  Five contestants in all walked away with the £1,000,000 top prize during that time.
  • The show returned for a short run in May 2018, hosted by Jeremy Clarkson. It returns to ITV on 1st January 2019.
  • In the BFI TV 100, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is ranked 23rd in the list of the Greatest British TV Programs.
  • One show in 1999 was watched by 19 million viewers, one third of the British population at the time.

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Big Moments In Who
Wants To Be A Millionaire
– The Fraudster

 


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