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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Millionaire scam to become film
Major Charles Ingram on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Major Ingram reached the jackpot with the help of coded coughs
The story of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? cheat scandal is to be turned into a film.

The programme's makers revealed the plan at the end of Monday's ITV1 documentary about the furore, which drew more than 15 million viewers, according to unofficial estimates.

Major Charles Ingram, who was convicted of cheating his way to the jackpot with the help of coded coughs, accused the documentary of being "an incredibly one-sided affair".

Programme makers Granada rejected Mr Ingram's suggestion, with the Tonight show's editor James Goldston saying it was "not unfairly or selectively edited in any way".

He said the documentary had been based on footage from the original recording of the show played to the jury in court.

Major Ingram told BBC One's Breakfast programme that the quiz show's makers were "greedy" and were making millions of pounds out of the scandal.

The ITV1 documentary was seen by an estimated 15.1 million people - one million more than watched the controversial exposť of Michael Jackson in February.

At the end of Monday's programme, it was revealed that the head of Millionaire's production company Celador, Paul Smith, hoped to turn the story into a blockbuster film.

Diana and Charles Ingram

Catherine Zeta Jones and Hugh Grant have already been mentioned by the press as possible stars.

Along with former college lecturer Tecwen Whittock, the Ingrams were convicted of conspiracy to cheat the programme out of £1m at the start of April.

Major Ingram revealed the couple are now £460,000 in debt after their legal battle.

They protested their innocence and said the verdict had ruined their lives in a series of BBC interviews.

"What the viewers saw last night was one of the greatest TV editing con tricks," Major Ingram told Breakfast.

He said the guilty verdict was "extremely humiliating" and had been "cataclysmic" for his family.

"The clips that were played last night were wholly unrepresentative of the environment that I was sitting within," he said.

"It is very, very unfair and it is worse, in fact, than what I had to sit through during the trial."

Programme editor James Goldston said the documentary had not been unfairly edited.

"We are sure viewers will have made up their own minds," he said.

Celador will make millions and millions of pounds out of this
Major Charles Ingram
Major Ingram said the couple had asked to be interviewed for the documentary to make it "more even-handed" - but their request was refused.

"Celador will make millions and millions of pounds out of this," he added.

He also hit back at presenter Chris Tarrant's comments that the major was "nice but dim".

"I am not thick. I am a member of Mensa, for goodness sake," he said.

"That was a very, very unfair comment and it is representative of what Celador has done. These people are the greedy people, not us."

Major Ingram was shown in the documentary answering questions to win the jackpot while Whittock was in the audience, indicating the correct answers with coughs.

Diana Ingram, seen looking anxiously in Whittock's direction, was found guilty of helping "set up" the scam.

The couple said lawyers were looking into whether they could appeal against the verdicts.

Tecwen Whittock outside court
Whittock said he had been suffering from asthma
The Ingrams were sentenced to 18 months in jail suspended for two years.

Whittock received a 12-month sentence, also suspended for two years.

The couple were also fined £15,000 each and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.

Whittock was fined £10,000 with £7,500 costs.

The defence counsel argued Whittock had been suffering from hay fever and asthma.

Whittock has said he is also planning an appeal against the verdict.

ITV1's Millionaire: A Major Fraud, an edition of Tonight with Trevor McDonald, featured interviews with presenter Chris Tarrant, the show's producers and other contestants who suspected foul play.

On the documentary, Whittock's series of coughs could be heard, including one followed by the word "no" as Ingram was about to give the wrong answer.

On a number of occasions, Ingram changed his answers after coughs from Whittock persuaded him he was wrong.

Mrs Ingram could also be heard coughing on one question when her husband was asked who had a hit UK album called Born To Do It.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Mrs Diana Ingram and Major Charles Ingram
"This is all entirely unfair and wrong"



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