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James Graham and Daniel Evans sit next to each other. James, with short dark hair, wears a dark green turtleneck jumper and is raising his arms, gesturing towards Daniel who has his hand to his mouth, laughing. He's wearing a pale blue shirt and green trousers.
James Graham (writer) and Daniel Evans (co-director) in rehearsal for Quiz

Some stories just stay with you. And the extraordinary tale of the so-called Coughing Major’s attempt to cheat his way to a million pounds on the world’s most popular game show enraptured me 20 years ago while it was playing out in front of the world’s media, and it thrilled me again to adapt it into a play and share with an audience for the first time at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester in 2017.

Six years on, after adapting Quiz for television where the story became something of a lockdown obsession for audiences all over again, it’s a real delight and frankly an honour to be bringing this story back to Chichester where it was first made with the great Daniel Evans and a talented creative team.

What I love about the production that Daniel built, is that it taps into the true magic of theatre that no other medium – not Netflix, not cinema – has: its liveness. The theatre audience transforms into both the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire studio audience one second, and a jury in court the next, voting on whether or not Charles and Diana Ingram are innocent or guilty.

There’s even more revelations and crazy theories to come in this latest outing of the play

We sat fascinated, night after night, by the results of the ‘jury’ once we laid out the case against the Ingrams, and – for the first time, really, in public – their defence. And the results very often really shocked people. This story isn’t as simple as people remember.

There’s the shadowy ‘syndicate’, for a start – a vast network of pub quiz fans who tried to hack into the TV show, and were incredibly successful at getting their members into that famous chair. In fact, since the play’s original outing, we’ve had more contact with, and information from, the real life individuals connected to this story; and there’s even more revelations and crazy theories to come in this latest outing of the play.

But despite all the whizz-bang entertainment of Quiz, I hope the play also probes some important contemporary issues about the nature of ‘truth’, and reality (going back to the birth of reality television), and of the mob mentality that can sometimes emerge around scandal-hit members of the public, or celebrities, whether true or not – something we’ve witnessed often in the past couple of months.

I also can’t quite believe the cast we have assembled for this production – with the legend that is Rory Bremner, the national treasure that is Mark Benton, and the genuine talents of the next generation of stage and screen stars Lewis Reeves and Charley Webb.

Fastest fingers ready. “Let’s play”…

James Graham

Quiz has a limited run in the Festival Theatre from 22 - 30 September with tickets from just £10, before embarking on a major UK tour.

Quiz is sponsored by Henry Adams.