The problem with "Quiz" - have your cake and eat it? Jan 9, 2021 4:10:32 GMT -5 trevor and greenorcs like this
Post by Tim0n on Jan 9, 2021 4:10:32 GMT -5
It's been a little while since Quiz premiered on ITV, and since then it has been distributed in a few other countries in the world. Based on the successful West End play, in the UK each episode brought nearly 10 million viewers. For comparison, the live finals of "Britain's Got Talent" in 2020 gathered 7.25 million (best episode peaking at just over 11 million). Clearly, the story captivated people, some of whom may not have been around to witness the scandal from 19 years ago.
Herein I'd like to argue that by bringing this story back up to the public eye, Sony and ITV may have opened this case up to debate, a potential re-investigation, and loss of credibility.
Every episode starts with a disclaimer: the events portrayed here have been dramatised. It feels like a way of saying "don't take anything you see here as truth". It is almost aimed to shut down anyone who might use any arguments from the series towards the defence of Ingrams. Chris Tarrant himself spoke of the play and the series, by stating that Ingrams were "guilty as sin" and nobody should attempt to plead them innocent. And, of course, that is partially true. All the scenes we've witnessed have been written and directed to maximise the emotional impact of the story on the audience. After all, we have no way of knowing what the actual conversations between Ingrams looked like, or at the ITV headquarters. We have no way of saying that the actions of The Syndicate was what made producers wary of potential cheaters on the show. But the central piece of the story - Ingram's run to a million - is, most certainly based in facts and evidence.
The prosecution case is the one we've been hearing for nearly 20 years now. Coughs on the correct answers after Ingram reads through all of them, Diana coughing during the Craig David question, a 500k question with "no!" being shouted. We're all too familiar with it. But what most of us may not have been in the know of is the defence case.
The show is based not just on the play, but primarily on the book "Bad Show: the Quiz, the Cough, the Millionaire Major" by Bob Woffinden and James Plaskett. It is noteworthy to say that said book actually aims to defend Ingrams and say they did not cheat on the show. Writing a show around something that goes against how the story has been portrayed thus far is risky.
More so because the defence case is therefore not one from the trial, but rather one that was devised after more careful studies, all the way up until the publishing of the book at the start of 2015. Some of the points made include Charles calling out the correct answer as the first one on 5 of 8 questions asked on day 2; Diana's cough not being taken into account by the jury; Whittock's medical conditions; coughing during the Judith Keppel recording that followed a similar pattern to Charles'. For anyone interested, an archived blog post by Plaskett from 2005 is available to read here.
This is where the situation becomes sticky for Sony and ITV. While everyone will have different opinions on how valid some of these arguments are, the overall account puts a stick in the mud for what was, thus far, a clear-cut case in the eyes of the public. And some of the claims are not easy to dismiss. Definitely not as easy as putting a disclaimer about "dramatised events" at the start of each episode.
So, what has Sony done about this? They published the "full run" on youtube, the so-called "Tape G". They have claimed that this is the "real footage" in the title, and within the video there is a claim of this being "raw footage". Unfortunately, the footage is far from being raw. There are numerous edits made throughout the tape, not only amplifying sounds to make them more audible than they would be otherwise, but also constant rewinds and cutaways with text to make a point of the prosecution case as the tape progresses. Moreover, the tape brings nothing new towards the prosecution. There is no attempt whatsoever to address any of the claims made by Woffinden and Plaskett, the same ones portrayed in the ITV drama. Sony is acting here as the judge, the jury and the executioner - forcing their version of the story through yet again.
As if that weren't enough, the recent documentary on the winners that WWTBAM UK produced features an episode dedicated to Charles Ingram. In this episode we learn... nothing new. It is the exact same story, just presented differently.
I don't think ITV can claim that "Quiz" is only a drama and therefore any points it proposes about the validity of Ingram's win are to be ignored. Again, the story is based on a book written in defence of Ingrams. There is no way of getting around that. By ignoring the case for defence prepared by Woffinden and Plaskett, they lose some credibility. By stating that Diana helped on question 10, despite this hypothesis being rejected by the judge at the time of the trial, they lose some more credibility.
And yet, they produced the show. They published the videos on YouTube. And they made another "documentary" on the case, all within the space of a few months. It almost seems like ITV and Sony are trying to cash in on every angle of this case. By doing so, they are resurrecting the discussion around the scandal, and personally I think it might come around to bite them. With new defence being put forward, a drama which is fairly empathetic towards the Ingrams, and the complete dismissal of anything that is outside of the official Sony narrative, as well as an appeal by Ingrams still being in the works, ITV's tactic of trying to have their cake and eat it at the same time might, ultimately, lead to the overturning of the jury verdict from 2003.
My personal take? I was quite sure that Ingram cheated on the show. Plaskett's defence has planted a seed of uncertainty in my head. But the final nail in the coffin is ITV/Sony's ignorance towards the aforementioned defence. And while I respect the jury's verdict on this, I do not respect the factual and emotional manipulation brought forward by the prosecutors (ie. ITV). If an appeal is possible, I think Ingrams should go for it. If you had asked me this time last year, I would have said that this case is closed shut. But now I'm no longer sure. And this doubt is enough for me to desire seeing the case be re-opened properly, with all the evidence having been looked at, followed by a verdict.
I invite everyone to a respectful discussion on this topic; I am eager to see what others think.