Who wants to be a millionaire with a cough

Who wants to Be a Millionaire? is one of the most popular TV quizzes of all time. Born in England and also famous in Italy thanks to the many episodes conducted by Gerry Scotti, the format is relatively simple: fifteen questions of increasing difficulty and if you get to the end without making a mistake, you win a million (or a billion in the first editions of our Country). Today, however, we are not talking about the history of this game, but about a story particularly. It is that of Charles ingram, the man who managed to cheat the quiz thanks to coughing.

A well thought out plan

Who wants to be a millionaire with a coughIt was 2001 and Who wants to Be a Millionaire? had been on the British television for three years. In the episode of 9 September Charles ingram, a major in the British Army managed to win the initial speed test after failing two previous attempts and went on to play for the main prizes of the quiz. his performance, however, was not exceptional. By the end of the recordings, Ingram had reached the seventh question with two aids already used and with a long way ahead of him.

It sounded like a typical show story: a competitor who arrives, gets on a bit, picks up a few thousand pounds and go home with those. But no, because the next day when Charles Ingram arrives on the set is another person.

In fact, the man slowly manages to get all the answers right one after the other. More and more difficult questions that he manages to overcome easily, even without being able to use them anymore aid. No question can stop him and so Ingram's climb comes up to the million pound question. "The number one followed by a hundred zeros what's its name?" the conductor asks him Chris Tarrant. Ingram replies "Googol”And celebrates a great victory.

But there is something very strange about his behavior. His reasoning is bizarre, contradicts itself, the reasons for which he arrives at certain choices are not clear. He even says he “never heard before” the name of an artist, before opting for it as his definitive answer. In short, it is suspected and in fact the production suspends the payment of the premium.

Who Wants To Be A Cough Millionaire?

There were reports of irregularities in that victory. Among the people who highlighted them there was in particular Larry Whitehurst, a contestant in the game who failed to win the initial test of the fastest finger. Already during the recordings the man noticed something strange. There was someone who cough in the studio and always in correspondence with the correct answer.

The subsequent reconstruction of the facts, which took place during the trial, assumes an agreement between Ingram, the wife Diana e Tecwen Whittock, another of the contestants of that evening. Together the three joined forces to be able to scam Who Wants to Be a Millionaire ?.

The idea was extremely simple: with every question, Ingram would have read the different options aloud, pretending to reason. His wife, present in the audience, or Whittock, who was among the discarded players but still in the studio, would have done a signal to suggest the correct answer. When Ingram pronounced the correct one, a cough strong enough for him to hear. It seems like the most banal trick in the world, but that's it it worked until the end.

You can see it in the video you find above. This is a version of the two episodes modified by the production to make it easier to hear the environmental noise collected from the studio microphones, which was used during the trial. Retracing Ingram's climb, in fact, we see that there are several occasions in which his decisions appear affected by coughing, confirming the hypotheses of Whitehurst and the prosecution.

The big Who Wants to be a Millionaire scam?

Who wants to be a millionaire with a cough

How did it end then? After the trial, both the Ingrams and Tecwen Whittock were found guilty and sentenced to 18 and 12 months in prison respectively, with parole. To these penalties were added fines and procedural charges, bringing the total due to £ 115.000, then further reduced on appeal. Through it all, Ingram continued to plead innocent. The affair became extremely famous in the UK, giving rise to books and Quiz, a play, recently transposed into a TV series.

Curiously, Ingram and his wife then returned to participate in television shows. In particular, their presence in a 'Celebrity' edition of another popular British quiz, namely The Weakest Link, a few years after their exploit.

Did you know this curious story? And of which other big scams in TV quizzes have you heard of it?

Who wants to be a millionaire with a cough Bad Show: The Quiz, The Cough, The Millionaire Major...
  • Woffinden, Bob (Author)
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