Quiz's Sian Clifford says meeting Charles and Diana Ingram changed her perspective on the scandal

Naomi Gordon
Photo credit: ITV

From Good Housekeeping

Quiz's Sian Clifford has described what it was like to meet with her on-screen character Diana Ingram, and how the singular experience changed her perspective on the scandal.

Diana and her army major husband Charles Ingram - played by Succession's Matthew Macfadyen - were convicted of fraud after being found guilty of cheating their way to the £1million prize on Who Wants to be a Millionaire back in 2001.

ITV's three-part series explores how Charles and Diana attempted such an audacious heist, and reexamines the levels of harassment and abuse they were subjected to by members of the press and public.

Photo credit: ITV

Sian recalled how speaking with Charles and Diana on set of the drama dissolved the caricatures of the couple created by some parts of the media, and enabled her to acknowledge the human side to the couple and their story which she hadn't initially considered before.

"It was amazing to meet them and they have been so generous with their time throughout this," Sian told Goodhousekeeping.com/uk and others at the screening of the drama. "It was really important for me to not engage with what was written about them at the time. Diana was painted as that Lady Macbeth character, but that's not who I think she is.

Photo credit: ITV

"She struck me as an introvert, and a nerd and someone who is actually quite shy, sweet and definitely naive, and I wanted to get to that across and protect them and be sensitive towards them. I just saw their human side which I hadn't considered before. I also wanted to protect the integrity of James' [Graham] remarkable script which I think is completely balanced.

"You can tell James has engaged with everyone [involved in the case] so much, and it's really fair and raises a lot of questions - not necessarily answering them - it's putting it out to our audience and that's really exciting."

Writer James - who adapted the series from his hit play of the same name - argued that it was important ethically and morally to include Charles and Diana in his productions so that they were prepared for the renewed public interest in their lives when the show airs later this month.

Photo credit: Matt_Frost - ITV

He revealed that the couple were pleased that the show "raises the possibility that all isn't what quite as it seems" when it comes to their case.

"I've mainly done political dramas, and there's that level of expectation from politicians that they will face scrutiny and be dragged through the mud a bit," James ruminated.

"That didn't seem fair certainly with the Ingrams, who might not want this story to re-emerge, so we very much engaged with them early on during rehearsals for the play and all the way through the TV series. We invited them on set, they met Sian and Matthew. I hope that the series is raising the possibility that all isn't what quite as it seems, and they seem quite pleased that this conversation is being had."

Photo credit: Matt_Frost - ITV

Meanwhile, Sian admitted that her initial reaction to the case almost two decades ago has very much changed as a result of the show.

"I was completely embroiled in it, I thought it was an open and shut case. I didn't consider the human cost, the other sides to it," the Fleabag star continued.

"Diana radiates this sweetness and she's incredibly quiet, and Charles commands the room. She doesn't say very much but they were really sweet, and were really thrilled that Matthew and I were playing them [laughs].

"Matthew and I wanted to be mindful and sensitive - you don't have to dig very deep to find out what happened to them. They were persecuted and harassed by the press but also by the public. And their pets were attacked, it was pretty gruesome. Their kids were bullied and they had to take them out of school. It was pretty extreme and so it wasn't hard to empathise with them."

Quiz airs on ITV on April 11 at 9pm.

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Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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