[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
The quiz show loser
Tecwen Whittock
Tecwen Whittock had an obsession with quizzes
BBC News Online profiles Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? quiz cheat Tecwen Whittock.

When Whittock first contacted the Ingrams he was seeking advice on how to get onto the ITV quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

The serial quiz show failure had seen how the Ingrams family had become almost a feature on the popular ITV programme - with Diana Ingram winning 32,000 in her turn on the hot-seat.

But Major Charles Ingram and his wife would have more than advice to offer him - they would give him the opportunity to join their scheme to defraud the show of 1m.

Whittock, like the Ingrams, had an obsession with quiz shows - he had already appeared on Sale of the Century, Brain of Britain, Fifteen-To-One and The People Versus, with little success.

And like them, he was deeply in debt - a salary of 30,000 as head of business studies at Pontypridd College, south Wales, eaten into each month by the 37,000 he owed - 20,000 on just one credit card.

Charles and Diana Ingram
The Ingrams drew Whittock into their scheme
The obsession, and the debt, were enough to convince a respectable college lecturer to do what he told the court would be a "very stupid" thing - to try to pull off the biggest sting in quiz show history.

A previous appearance on the show had met with the same limited success as all his other appearances on TV - he left with just 1000 after incorrectly identifying keftedes as sweet pastries instead of Greek meatballs.

Despite his numerous appearances on television, Whittock had a low profile, even in his own neighbourhood.

A neighbour in Heol y Gors, a quiet street in the leafy city suburb of Whitchurch where the Whittocks made their home, said the lecturer was quiet and kept himself to himself.

A troubled childhood in the south Wales valleys had seen Whittock taken away from his mother, Alice, who had been admitted to a mental hospital three months before he was born.

Gifted scholar

She died in 1961, when he was eleven, never having seen him again.

Whittock was placed with a couple called the Morgans and raised as their son.

Only when a birth certificate was needed to allow him to sit the 11-plus exam did he find out his true background - and learn he had brothers and sisters he had never met.

Despite the setbacks, Whittock was a gifted scholar and won a place at the prestigious Lewis Boys' School in the Rhymney Valley.

After graduating from Aberystwyth University with a degree in economics, he worked in banking for two years before finding his vocation in teaching.

Brief triumph

He became a lecturer at Pontypridd in 1978 - heading up the business studies department in 1996.

But this quiet academic's obsession with quiz shows would throw him into the limelight - just not in the way he might have hoped.

As a contestant, he had little success, but as a proxy for the scheming major he briefly experienced the triumph of scooping the biggest prize possible in a television quiz show.

That victory though lasted only long enough for the production crew to notice his suspicious pattern of coughs which had directed the major in his answers.

And after being found guilty along with his co-conspirators on Monday, Whittock, the perennial quiz show loser, has suffered the biggest defeat of his life.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific