ITV's Quiz starring Matthew McMacfadyn and Michael Sheen. Credit: ITV

'Coughing Major' Charles Ingram: What Was His Army Background Before TV Quiz Cheating Scandal?

ITV's Quiz starring Matthew McMacfadyn and Michael Sheen. Credit: ITV

Charles Ingram is known to millions as the infamous ‘Coughing Major’ who was thrust into the national spotlight in 2001 when he was accused of cheating his way to the jackpot on TV quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

But what was the former British Army soldier’s military background before he agreed to resign his commission in 2003 following his conviction on charges relating to the cheating scandal that rocked the world of television?

Ingram is back in the public eye after the story of how he and his wife Diana were said to have attempted the ‘audacious heist’ on the show, hosted by Chris Tarrant, was turned into a three-part drama that aired on ITV and is now available on catch-up.

Here, we take a look at his service in the British Army in the years before he was chosen as a contestant on hit ITV quiz show and what happened following his appearance on the television.

What Did Charles Ingram Do In The British Army?

Charles Ingram joined the army in 1986, initially spending a year at RMA Sandhurst before commissioning into the Royal Engineers.

In 1990, he attained the rank of Captain, and five years later was promoted to Major.

The army Major was posted to Bosnia in 1998 as part of the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations, known as SFOR.

While in Bosnia, Major Ingram was based at Banja Luca. He spent six months on the operational tour.

In 2001, while still a serving officer, Major Ingram secured a seat on the ITV quiz show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Why Are People Talking About Charles Ingram Again?

Following his infamous win on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Charles Ingram and his wife, Diana, were arrested by police who had been called in after the production company behind the show, Celador, became suspicious.

A fellow studio contestant, Tacwen Whittock, was also arrested and three years later all three were convicted of 'Procuring The Execution of a Valuable Security By Deception’ at Southwark Crown Court.

The conviction was based around the Major seemingly being helped along on the show by Diana and Tacwen coughing each time he mentioned the correct answer to host Chris Tarrant.

Charles Ingram is now the subject of a major television show on ITV, Quiz, which aired over Easter and is now showing on ITV's Hub catch-up service.

Quiz stars Matthew Macfadyn as Major Charles Ingram and Michael Sheen as the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire host, Chris Tarrant.

Quiz stars Matthew Macfadyn as the British Army Major accused of cheating on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Credit: ITV

How Has Quiz Been Received?

Episode one of the ITV drama was watched by 5.3 million people, so far making it the third most watched TV drama of 2020.

Viewers from the Forces community have also been discussing the programme, and Charles Ingram’s story, online.

Some military viewers commented that although in real life the Major was cap-badged Royal Engineers, in the ITV drama he is portrayed as an officer in Adjutant General’s Corps.

Others commented that the Major portrayed on-screen was seen walking with his hands in his pockets - which would not be the case for anyone in uniform.

What Is Charles Ingram Doing Now?

Since being agreeing to resign his commission and leaving the Army in 2003, Charles and Diana Ingram have appeared on other television programmes, including the Weakest Link.

Charles has also authored two books, The Network, published in 2006, and Deep Siege, published in 2007.

Charles and Diana have previously unsuccessfully appealed their 2003 convictions but following new interest in the case thanks to ITV’s Quiz, the pair are reported to be planning fresh appeals.

Watch The Incredible Moment Major Charles Ingram Changes His Mind While Playing Who Wants To Be a Millionaire

Major Ingram frequently changed his mind while answering Chris Tarrant's 15 questions on his way to scooping the one-million-pound jackpot, with one of the strangest moments of the programme occurring when faced with the question to win £32,000.

Charles was asked a question relating to pop music, to which he immediately admitted that he did not know the answer.

After some time deliberating, and after almost choosing a wrong answer, he abruptly changed his mind to the astonishment of Chris Tarrant.

You can watch the nail-biting moment in the video below.  

Quiz is available on the ITV Player now.

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