Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

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Neville Twitchell
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Neville Twitchell » Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:03 am

Having now had the benefit of seeing the 2nd and 3rd instalments of "Quiz" I am not sure that I am any the wiser about where the truth of the matter lies. It seemed to me that the programe rather funked it by not coming down on one side or the other and left the viewer more perplexed than ever. I know it was based on the James Graham play, which I have not seen, though I have seen reviews, and that the play more or less leaves it up to the audience, even, I believe, providing them with a buzzer to vote guilty or not guilty, but this is rather an abdication of the writers remit to present a case, or at least a view. I must admit I was wrong to assume that the programme would come down on the side of ITV/Celador and in a way it is admirable that ITV went ahead and screened a show that at least in some respects contradicts the basic premise of the documentary it produced and transmitted about the matter several years ago in the wake of the trial, to whit that the Ingrams were demonstrably and palpably guilty.
But the whole thing seemed oddly decontextualised and unsatisfactory as either fiction or documentary. We are shown, for example, Diana Ingram phoning Whittock on the eve of the crucial 2nd days recording but we are not shown the content of that conversation. We have arguments between the Ingrams about matters but no clear examination of their content, though of course no-one, Graham or anyone else other than the Ingrams can really know.
There were matters that jarred. The Ingrams would surely not have been interviewed jointly by the police but separately for obvious reasons, and they would not have been in consultation with their counsel, Sonia Woodley, in the absence of a solicitor, and probably even then only with junior not leading counsel (a common error in TV depictions of courtroom drama). More importantly I am not at all sure about the authenticity of the production team's reactions to the whole affair. I was amused by the scene immediately following the recording when at their initial meeting there is anxious debate about whether it is actually an offence to cheat on a game show, and their lawyer is genuinely unsure,and their uncertainty as to whether to stop the cheque. But I am unconvinced by all the breast-beating that goes on. In many ways the producers and management must have found the thing a godsend, revitalising a flaggging format and triggering intense public interest that revived the show fortunes after it was threatening to descend into the doldrums.
All in all we are no further forward.

Paul Habershon
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Paul Habershon » Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:25 am

I agree with Neville's interesting review, seemingly supported by an element of legal expertise. It is usually difficult for a drama to cover all the detail of a story. Screen adaptations of books have to omit huge chunks of the original. Some of it would be too tedious for the format and three hours on ITV equates to much less because of the ad breaks. Certainly there was no attempt here to give a definitive answer and the Times reviewer suggested that this leaves open the chance of a sequel.

I was surprised by the message shown during the closing credits: the Ingrams are working on an appeal. Presumably there is no time limit for that.
Also will the Ingrams surface to comment in the media about this latest portrayal? I wonder if their predominant feeling is fascination, embarrassment or ennui.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by David Sedgwick » Fri Apr 17, 2020 8:19 am

Paul Habershon wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:25 am
I was surprised by the message shown during the closing credits: the Ingrams are working on an appeal. Presumably there is no time limit for that.
They would have to obtain leave to appeal, which has so far been refused.

I have seen somewhere that the basis of the appeal would be scientific evidence, not previously available, to the effect that not all the coughs on which the prosecution relied were actually made by Whittock.

Paul Habershon wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:25 am
Also will the Ingrams surface to comment in the media about this latest portrayal? I wonder if their predominant feeling is fascination, embarrassment or ennui.
I think that their lawyers will advise them not to comment pending the possible appeal. But we shall see.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Fri Apr 17, 2020 1:07 pm

There is a Twitter account claiming to be Charles Ingram, it appears to be genuine. It makes "interesting" reading if so.
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

Mike Gunn
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Mike Gunn » Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:02 pm

I think the ambiguity in the message of the play and TV programme was deliberate. Remember the Picasso quote at the start: "Art is not true, but Art illuminates the truth" (or similar). Nobody knows (apart from the Ingrams) whether they really cheated and I think that is the main point of the programme - they shouldn't have been convicted on the basis of the "evidence" that was presented in court.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:03 pm

Dramas based on actual events are always problematic, partly as some people will believe that the film/TV show accurately reflects what happened, whereas it probably doesn't. If "Quiz" turns out to be undecided in its approach, I think that's a tribute to the author, who hasn't introduced a lot of bias.

I noticed that the Ingrams were interviewed together by the police and thought that can't be true.
Did the court really accept audio recordings that had been tampered with by the prosecution?
Apparently, the science now exists to distinguish if coughs come from specific individuals. (no idea if that's true.)
I would think the defence would love to get Chris Tarrant in the witness box, as they could probably rely on him to be frivolous and say something stupid, which might help their case.

The case of whether it is illegal to cheat on a game show is an interesting one. What happens if the game show uses an ambiguous question or gives a wrong answer? So the programme cheats. (I think the answer is probably in the T&Cs - "If we foul it up, you have no legal redress.") Usually, the programme tries to be fair. James Plaskett himself was apparently given a second chance as the "fastest finger" machinery was said to be faulty on his first attempt.

I found the suggestion that people were trying to conspire to get a nearby answer for the phone-call question interesting. Is that true? Does/did the Spooner character exist?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:31 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:03 pm
I found the suggestion that people were trying to conspire to get a nearby answer for the phone-call question interesting. Is that true? Does/did the Spooner character exist?
There are various recent interviews with Jim Plaskett. I think Spooner is mentioned in at least one of them as being featured in the original book.

A possible alternative explanation of how it's possible to answer a question correctly when you don't have a clue was given in the programme. That was that if a contestant appears to be about to give the wrong answer, the audience reaction if the contestant can pick it up, may give the game away.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:39 pm

"A possible alternative explanation of how it's possible to answer a question correctly when you don't have a clue was given in the programme. That was that if a contestant appears to be about to give the wrong answer, the audience reaction if the contestant can pick it up, may give the game away."

Yes - that's true. Unfortunately, the TV quizzes I've done didn't allow that possibility!

Ian Thompson
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Ian Thompson » Fri Apr 17, 2020 5:42 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:03 pm
What happens if the game show uses an ambiguous question or gives a wrong answer? So the programme cheats. (I think the answer is probably in the T&Cs - "If we foul it up, you have no legal redress.") Usually, the programme tries to be fair.
That's happened at least twice. Once when the programme's correct answer was actually incorrect. The contestant chose it and kept the money they incorrectly won.

The other time the question was what was the middle name of some well-known poet. The contestant chose the wrong answer and went home. It subsequently transpired that the poet had two middle names - the one that the contestant chose and the one that the programme had as the correct answer. The contestant was credited with a correct answer and came back to the show a week or two later to continue where they left off.

Michael Yeo
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Michael Yeo » Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:14 am

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:03 pm
Is that true? Does/did the Spooner character exist?
From my local paper:
https://www.advertiserandtimes.co.uk/quiz-millionaire

I have played his father at chess.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:30 am

"https://www.advertiserandtimes.co.uk/quiz-millionaire"

Thanks for that - venues banning individuals for being too good are cheating...

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JustinHorton
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by JustinHorton » Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:07 pm

"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

NickFaulks
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by NickFaulks » Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:35 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:07 pm
Secret Barrister
I agree with the author that it is a shame that British viewers are so accustomed to watching American court dramas that they are not expected to welcome seeing their own courts presented correctly. I found this a most interesting read, worth staying with to the very end.
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:38 pm

The "Secret Barrister" is right as usual.

I was amused by 12 - "Mark Bonnar’s witness summons arriving mid-trial. There is no way (save for enormous cock-up) that a key prosecution witness would only find out after the trial has started that he is required to give evidence. "

Several of my old work colleagues will testify that this happened all the time. Admittedly, they knew that they would be required to give evidence - it's just nobody told them when or where the trial was...

He is right on forensic science. How many scientists have died laughing watching TV dramas showing forensic science?

But it's a TV drama - what do you expect? We know how chess is depicted in films...

As I said earlier, the big problem with TV/movie depiction of real events is that people will believe the fiction is real.

James Plaskett
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Re: Plaskett and Woffinden's book on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Fraud

Post by James Plaskett » Sun Apr 19, 2020 10:02 pm

I was NEVER given a second chance at any FF question, Sñr Thurlow.
Graham´s point was to show some legitimate and quite valid "alternative facts" for the defence. And Mike Gunn is spot on that they should NOT have been convicted on that evidence.
Ingrams were interviewed separately.
Paul Smith was actually the first witness of all to testify.
Thurlow asks if it is possible that the tapes could have been tampered with.
The late Bob Woffinden opined to me that if at any point a cough comes from behind Ingram after his mentioning any incorrect option "the prosecution case collapses".
Not 100% sold. But I accept that it weakens their case.
So they had to come up with something to account for the existence of just such a cough after Ingram mentions the incorrect option to his 500,000 Pounds question.
TWO tapes were produced; one for Ingram´s civil action Vs Celador and one for the criminal trial.
On the one for the civil case NO "NO" IS AUDIBLE.
On the one for the criminal trial the "NO" is there.
Bob discovered that Ingram´s solicitor, Stephen Gentle, was only in receipt of that tape THREE DAYS before trial.
Go figure, gentlemen. 8)
Gentle told Woffinden that only then did he begin to fear for his client.

In my opinion, the very fact that the tapes were not promptly seized by police but were, instead, allowed to remain in Celador´s possession could, of itself, well constitute legitimate grounds for invalidating the trial.

Reports in papers of Sat 11th that the appeal was underway. Ingram has told me more. But not much more.
Reports in papers since then that Graham is already planning QUIZ Episode Four, which brings us up to where the guys are today and the events since 2003, which include his slipping on an apple and getting three toes cut off by his lawnmower.
(He hasn´t told me yet who gets to play me. Although we have exchanged quite a few e mails of the past few days and he yet awaits my comments upon his drama based upon Bad Show.)
Kevin Thurlow mentions audience reactions being picked up on by players.
Yes. That´s how Ingram explains his volte-face at the 32,000 Pound point.
David Sedgwick is right that were the trial to be run again then Prof. Morice´s testimony that there are TWO distinct coughers on the tapes would be admissable. He wanted to tell the court that but could not as the technology underpinning the conclusion had not THEN been peer-reviewed.
However, I am not 100% sure that is the main basis of the appeal.
I might add, en passant, although I suspect that the appeal was timed to cash in on public sympathy generated by the TV drama, it could just be coincidence. (Not that I´m the sort of man who attaches much significance to coincidences, you understand.) :D
Pleased that the fact I discovered through an act of forensic genius and acuity which would leave even the code breakers at Bletchley Park´s Hut 6 in awe (er, well, perhaps not. All I did was play the bloody tape of her performance, actually :oops: ) similar coughs audible after Judith Keppel´s initially voiced answers but before her affirming those as final answers at her 2,000, 4,000, 64,000, 500,000 and million pounds questions (there´s even another, disputable, one at 8,000.) Clear as crystal.
But, as Helen McCrory asked the Celador MD, "Why not call the Police in on her?"
Why not indeed. :shock:
Also pleased that Graham squeezed in the tabloid journalist extending Piers Morgan´s offer of a 675,000 Pounds fee in return for a ´spill-the-beans´ exclusive.
And Charles´declining it.
(GO Figure, guys.) 8)
The screenwriter ought perhaps to have made a tiny reference to Ingram´s subsequent conviction at Bournemouth in October 2003 for something which has incorrectly been reported as Insurance Fraud but which, David Taylor of Wilts Constabulary told reporters on the court steps was, "NOT Fraud."
(For several people have raised his subsequent conviction for Fraud with me. Quite a few in the last week on Twitter and even Hartston, who attended the play in the West End and voted GUILTY afterwards.
(Reuben voted Guilty, but told me he would have preferred the Scots option of Not Proven.)
I´ve had journalists galore on to me this week and two interviews on TALKRADIO, one accessible at Twitter.
Only The Millionaire Three can know for sure what happened. But in Bad Show´s 400 pages we took great detail to show that every prosecution point could be countered. (Something with which Jon Ronson agreed. He had attended every one of the 18 days of the trial and, having thought them as guilty as sin, then found my initial essay caused him to change his mind. You may see what he wrote in The Guardian, July 17 2006: Are The Millionaire Three Innocent?)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ntstobeami
They should NOT have been convicted on that evidence.
Kindle Bad Show and see for yourselves.
(At least that´ll make me a few groats, anyways!)
Last edited by James Plaskett on Mon Apr 20, 2020 10:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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