Charles William Ingram, a former British Army major from Derbyshire, was a contestant on series 10 of the UK version of the show on the shows scheduled for broadcast on 15th & 18th September, 2001. After originally winning £1,000,000, the prize was cancelled after it was revealed that he had cheated his way through most of the questions. As a result, the episodes that he appeared in were not actually broadcast until 21st April, 2003.
Fastest Finger First Question
|Fastest Finger First Question|
|Put these words in the order they occur in the title of the Agatha Christie thriller.|
|• A: Nile||• B: On|
|• C: Death||• D: The|
From the 8 remaining contestants, 7 got it right, but Charles (with a time of 3.97 seconds) was the fastest to correctly answer C-B-D-A, making it into the Hot Seat.
Charles's Run to the Million
On the first night of his game, when he got into the hot seat, he got through the first four questions without using any lifelines. On the fifth question, he still didn't use a lifeline, but took a while to answer. On both questions 6 and 7, he used a lifeline on each of them. He used two of his lifelines early on. After 7 questions, he won £4,000 but then the show ran out of time, so he had to return the next day to continue.
|£100 (1 of 15) - Not Timed|
|On which of these would you air laundry?|
|• A: Clothes dog||• B: Clothes horse|
|• C: Clothes rabbit||• D: Clothes pig|
|£200 (2 of 15) - Not Timed|
|What name is given to a person who is against increasing the powers of the European Union?|
|• A: Eurosceptic||• B: Eurostar|
|• C: Eurotrash||• D: Eurovision|
|£300 (3 of 15) - Not Timed|
|What is butterscotch?|
|• A: Shortbread||• B: Pavement game|
|• C: Garden flower||• D: Brittle toffee|
|£500 (4 of 15) - Not Timed|
|Which of these is the nickname for a famous Scottish army regiment?|
|• A: Black Cat||• B: Black Widow|
|• C: Black Sea||• D: Black Watch|
|£1,000 (5 of 15) - Not Timed|
|The Normans, who invaded and conquered England in 1066, spoke which language?|
|• A: German||• B: Norwegian|
|• C: French||• D: Danish|
|£2,000 (6 of 15) - Not Timed|
| In 'Coronation Street', who is Audrey's daughter? |
"Ask the Audience" lifeline used.
|• A: Janice||• B: Gail|
|• C: Linda||• D: Sally|
|Ask the Audience Results: A: 4% • B: 89% • C: 3% • D: 4%|
|Charles did not know, so he used his first lifeline, He asked the audience, which gave a resounding 4-89-3-4 vote. Charles went with the audience, and won £2,000.|
|£4,000 (7 of 15) - Not Timed|
| The River Foyle is found in which part of the United Kingdom? |
"Phone-A-Friend" lifeline used.
|• A: England||• B: Scotland|
|• C: Northern Ireland||• D: Wales|
|Charles did not know, so he decided to phone his friend Gerald, who was 99% sure it was Northern Ireland. He went with him and won £4,000. Then, the klaxon called time and Charles would return on £4,000 with 1 lifeline still available.|
Having watched and recorded several episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, the Millionaire team thought that if you used two of your lifelines by the end of the night, you've usually struggled up to that point and you're expected to last only a couple of questions and be gone. The host Chris Tarrant thought that Charles chances of winning £32,000 were the chances of going to the moon in a rocket. Since he only had one lifeline left Chris expected Charles to get to £16,000 and be on his way. He was in for a big surprise...
Meanwhile, Charles and his wife Diana Ingram, who accompanied Charles in the audience called one of the Fastest Finger Contestants. Tecwen Whittock, who would appear on the next show that night. It is here, it is alleged, where Tecwen joins the Ingram's scam to cheat to the million, and this is where the "Major Fraud" begins. Diana Ingram later claimed she alone had spoken with him and purely to wish him good luck.
On the next night, before starting the game, Chris asked Charles if he had a strategy. Charles said that he was a little defensive on the last show so he's going on the counter-attack. In fact, this reply, given the actual facts of what happened on the previous night, is incomprehensible. It appears that Ingram was simply setting the scene for what he was about to do. In saying that he was 'too defensive' on the previous night, Ingram also said that he had been too negative and had talked himself out of the answers which 'I knew'. However, this is simply false. In regard to the question concerning who is Audrey's daughter in Coronation Street, Ingram said outright "I have never watched it...I don't know the answer". He certainly didn't, as he claimed, talk himself out of that answer. He didn't know it, and he said so. The second question on which Ingram used a lifeline, had him saying exactly the same thing. The question was 'In which part of the UK is the River Foyle?' Ingram's response was 'I have never heard of it.' Again, it should be noted, he never talked himself out of the answer. He said conclusively that he didn't know the answer, and this is why he needed to use his 'phone a friend' lifeline. Ingram's claim that he was going to be more positive, it seems, was simply an attempt to forewarn that should his answers or behaviour be deemed erratic, it was because he was being more 'attacking'.
What everyone did not know was that his real strategy was to cheat. On nearly every question that night, he would try to say all four choices by giving a humourous comment on each of them. Then Tecwen, who's the FFC seat right behind Charles, would cough immediately after Charles said the correct answer. During the later questions, Charles chose to play it safe and check around all the answers multiple times leading to more constant coughing from Tecwen.
|£8,000 (8 of 15) - Not Timed|
|Who was the second husband of Jacqueline Kennedy?|
|• A: Adnan Khashoggi||• B: Ronald Reagan|
|• C: Aristotle Onassis||• D: Rupert Murdoch|
Charles immediately thought it was Aristotle Onassis, and Tecwen coughed immediately after Charles said his name. After two coughs, Charles was confident and went for it.
|£16,000 (9 of 15) - Not Timed|
|Emmenthal is a cheese from which country?|
|• A: France||• B: Italy|
|• C: Netherlands||• D: Switzerland|
This is the only question of the night that Charles knew the answer to without getting help from Tecwen.
|£32,000 (10 of 15) - Not Timed|
| Who had a hit UK album with 'Born To Do It', released in 2000? |
"50:50" lifeline used
|• A: Coldplay||• B: Toploader|
|• C: A1||• D: Craig David|
Charles and Tecwen did not know the answer to the question, so the plan was out the window. Charles used the 50:50 and was left with A1 and Craig David. Charles needed help, but none was coming. Knowing that her every move was being recorded, Diana Ingram, who was in the audience, took a huge gamble and coughed twice, hinting that the second answer is correct. After believing for a long time that it was A1, Charles changed his mind and went with Craig David.
|£64,000 (11 of 15) - Not Timed|
|Gentlemen v Players was an annual match between amateurs and professionals of which sport?|
|• A: Lawn tennis||• B: Rugby Union|
|• C: Polo||• D: Cricket|
As the cheats play for more money, the coughs become more constant. Charles checked all the answers and two coughs from Tecwen told Charles it was Cricket.
|£125,000 (12 of 15) - Not Timed|
|'The Ambassadors', in the National Gallery, is a painting by which artist?|
|• A: Van Eyck||• B: Holbein|
|• C: Michelangelo||• D: Rembrandt|
It took two coughs from Tecwen for Charles to be certain that it was Holbein. At this point, the gaps between Tecwen's coughing and Charles being certain of an answer started becoming shorter. The team believed that if Charles chose to walk away at that moment, they wouldn't have caught him, because they wouldn't have lots of evidence that he was cheating. If Charles chose to go higher, which he did, chances are a lot more coughs would be caught on tape and therefore a lot more evidence for the Millionaire team. So far, Tecwen didn't cough lots of times, but he would start coughing a lot more constantly as greed took over and Charles kept going.
|£250,000 (13 of 15) - Not Timed|
|What type of garment is an Anthony Eden?|
|• A: Overcoat||• B: Hat|
|• C: Shoe||• D: Tie|
This was another question where Tecwen did not know the answer, so he decided to ask one of the Fastest Finger Contestants next to him if he knew. The contestant Tecwen asked was Tom Lucy, who started becoming suspicious after Tecwen asked him. Tom thought that Tecwen turned towards him and asked him just for something to say but once Charles made it to the million, as Tom knew the answer to both the £250,000 and £1,000,000 questions, he knew exactly what was going on for sure.
Tom/Tecwen conversation caught on tape:
- Tecwen: What's that?
- Tom: It's a hat.
- Tecwen: That's what I thought.
- Tom: Geez...I wish I was up there.
- Tecwen: You ever worn one of them?
- Tom: I haven't but Anthony Eden wore them - very popular in his days.
Armed with the answer, Tecwen was ready. On this question, it took three coughs this time instead of two for Charles to choose hat. At this point, the two men were starting to overdo it.
|£500,000 (14 of 15) - Not Timed|
|Baron Haussmann is best known for his planning of which city?|
|• A: Rome||• B: Paris|
|• C: Berlin||• D: Athens|
On this question, Charles nearly blew the scam. Right off the bat, he thought it was Berlin as he believed Baron Haussmann had a German name. This was wrong, leading Chris Tarrant to reply "Charles ten minutes ago, you thought it was A1." He forgot to slowly say all the answers, not giving Tecwen a chance to help. Tecwen then took a huge risk by coughing and loudly whispering 'No!'. He broke the code by creating a signal that meant that Charles was about to give an incorrect answer. But Charles continued to think it was Berlin, so Tecwen made a new signal, a nose-blow, trying to tell Charles that it was the all-stop signal. When Charles rules out Paris, Tecwen coughed hinting that it was correct, stopping Charles mid-sentence. Charles once again thought it was Berlin, and Tecwen once again did his all-stop signal.
All the noise Tecwen was making started drawing the attention of a contestant named Larry Whitehurst who started to wonder if he was sending Charles a signal. Larry did not know the answer but carefully listened as Charles was checking around all the answers; and when he said Paris, he heard Tecwen's cough which made him suspicious. After saying Paris two more times, and hearing two more coughs from Tecwen, Charles finally went with Paris. This made a total of four coughs and two nose-blows in a single question, nobody aware that Charles was cheating except for Tom, Larry and future contestant Robert Brydges.
|£1,000,000 (15 of 15) - Not Timed|
|A number one followed by one hundred zeros is known by what name?|
|• A: Googol||• B: Megatron|
|• C: Gigabit||• D: Nanomole|
Larry knew the answer before the four choices came up, so he was really able to eavesdrop on the private conversation between Charles and Tecwen. Tecwen once again turned to his left and asked Tom if he knew the answer.
- Tom: It's a Googol.
- Tecwen: That's what I thought.
Tecwen now had the million pound answer. Charles thought it was Nanomole. He said that he never heard of a Googol, but Tecwen had, so he coughed. Larry was waiting for Tecwen to cough after Charles said Googol; and as soon as he did, Tecwen coughed and Larry had them red-handed. At the same time, Larry did not want him to cough, but he did because he wanted to confirm his suspicion. Charles then visited all the answers again to check with Tecwen. Although he never heard of a Googol, he was actually thinking it was, even though he just thought it was a Nanomole. As he says Googol again, Tecwen coughs a second time. Chris Tarrant reminded him that he was going for the one he never heard of, just because he never heard of it.
Then, Charles checked all the answers a third time and on Googol, Tecwen delivered. After saying Googol one last time, Charles finally played Googol. Charles asked Chris not to go for a break, but he did. After coming back, Chris recapped exactly how Charles approached the million pound question. He tore up the cheque for £500,000... and announced that he just won a million pounds and said he was the most amazing contestant they've ever had... that is, until they discovered he cheated.
After the show
After the show was over, the team started searching for evidence. They took all the tapes from the cameras and put them all up on a screen. Before long, they noticed that all the coughs were linked to the questions and finally figured out what was going on.
The following week, Charles received a call from Celador Productions. He was told that there were suspicions of the activities he took part in during the recording and the suspicions were referred to the police. Therefore they wouldn't be airing the show or rewarding him with his cheque. Charles obviously said he wasn't doing anything suspicious and said goodbye. During the phone call, Charles didn't feel upset at all. He just thanked them for telling him and hung up, not the upset reaction the Millionaire team was expecting.
With that, the game was up, for Charles, Diana and Tecwen. They had no other choice but to resort to one idea: they didn't do it. Charles said he swore that he did not cheat and he didn't recall hearing any coughing. Diana claims she never met Tecwen, but throughout the night, she was looking in his direction. The jury was shown the tape of Charles's million pound run and heard all of Tecwen Whittock's coughs in isolation better than one could hear it in a broadcast. The jury found the trio guilty and the judge said to give up any hopes that they were entitled to the million.
The Ingrams were both sentenced to 18 months in prison while Tecwen was sentenced to 12. The sentences were all suspended, something which surprised many people in view of the amount of money involved. The Ingrams had to pay total court fees of £115,000 rather than receive the million pounds. The trio appeared on one talk show after another and their story remained the same: they didn't do it. Their reputations were ruined. They risked everything to cheat to a million and lost it all. Charles now repairs computers for a living. Robert Brydges, one of the Fastest Finger Contestants who caught Charles red-handed, started writing a book called The Third Millionaire after he, two weeks later, indeed became the show's true third millionaire.
Months after the recording, Charles run was finally aired along with a couple of interviews from the team with Chris Tarrant as the host. A documentary was also aired called Who Wants to be a Millionaire Major Fraud, featuring Charles run to the million, interviews from the team and FFC's who suspected cheating and the coughs in isolation just like the jury heard them at the trial. The documentary was followed up by a special called The Final Answer, where it was announced that Celador Productions, the company that made Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, planned to make a movie based on the fraud called Millionaire: The Movie, but over a decade has passed since the Major Fraud and the movie has not yet been seen. Since 2004, James Plaskett has been arguing with author Bob Woffinden in favour of innocence for all 3 of them. His first essay being called 'Is The Coughing Major Innocent?'
More karma would eventually befall on the cheaters. Shortly after being declared guilty, Charles was forced to be stripped of his Major title by the Army Board. On September 2010, Charles was reported to lose several of his toes in a freak lawn-moving accident. Just recently, on May 2018, the Ingrams had to sell off their country home in Wiltshire for £450,000 to rent in an apartment.
In popular culture
- His cheating scandal inspired the Indian novel Q & A, which in turn inspired the hit 2009 movie Slumdog Millionaire.
- In addition, more recently, it more directly inspired the 2017 West End theatre play Quiz, which is based directly on Ingram's cheating scandal.
- To date, Charles Ingram is the last UK contestant to be stripped of his prize money, the previous three contestants were Neil Muir, Sheridan Booth and Andrew Lavelle - who were all stripped of their prize money for having criminal records.
- He is, and as of 2018, one of only 3 to have their top prize win stripped
- Charles Ingram's Run was not repeated on Challenge, due to the 'Major Fraud.' was happening. He also cheated because of Tecwen and Diana's Help throughout the 15 questions. The only way to see his entire run without the 'Major Fraud.' episode, is to see the YouTube Source under the Trivia Article.
- He appeared on Millionaire on the 27th January 2001. But didn't make it to the Hot Seat until 15th September 2001.
- He and Diana also appeared on Millionaire Couples on 24th March 2001, but didn't make it into the Hot Seat.
|UK Contestant (Series 10)|
| Succeeded by|