The father of three seemed to be a certainty for an early exit from the ITV game show. He had only managed to reach £ 4,000 on his first day against Tarrant – and had run out of two of his three precious lifelines.
But on the second day, it was a completely different picture. The Major was on a real winning streak, seemingly without explanation.
He behaved irregularly and seemed to take enormous risks on big budget questions to which he clearly did not know the answers.
One of the strangest moments came when we asked Ingram “Who recorded the album Born To Do It”? By his own admission, he had never heard of the record or its singer and had initially chosen the wrong answer.
But then, with a clearly confused Tarrant watching and waiting, he made the right choice – Craig David.
Even on the question that brought him back the million pounds, Ingram considered another answer and walked away with the £ 500,000.
But out of the blue, he chose the right choice – and his life changed overnight.
The Ingram’s joy was short-lived. Within days, they were arrested and charged with deceiving Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which had an audience of 19 million people.
They found themselves on the dock 18 months after the historic victory, accused of having obtained the executioner of precious security by deception.
The Ingrams have always insisted that they are innocent of any wrongdoing, but they have been found guilty and each fined £ 15,000 and ordered to pay £ 10,000 for prosecution costs, which were then raised to £ 65,000.
They, as well as the man accused of helping them cheat, Tecwen Whittock, were also given suspended sentences.
Tarrant himself admits that he had no idea that something was wrong and that the couple seemed to have cheated to win.
The legendary television host said: “If I thought there was something wrong, I certainly would not have signed it (the check).
“They seemed as normal as those who just won a million pounds would be in the situation. “
But Ingram seemed to have a very specific way of answering each question. He read each response very carefully, sometimes repeating them several times.
And there was a key question for £ 500,000 that almost blew the whole plot apart and exposed the scam.
When Ingram was asked ‘Baron Haussmann is best known for planning which city?’ The four choices were Rome, Berlin, Paris and Athens.
And this time Ingram thought he had the answer – he said that Baron Haussmann looked German, but it was not.
Tarrant said to him “Charles, ten minutes ago, you thought it was A1” in connection with Craig David’s question that he had mysteriously been right despite a penchant for the wrong answer.
But Ingram had made a major mistake, he forgot to read all the answers carefully so that Whittock could help.
The speaker then made a very loud coughing noise and it was reported that he was heard whispering “No” out loud.
Ingram seemed oblivious, so Whittock would have deployed the code to warn him that he had chosen the wrong answer. He blew his noise.
Then Ingram argued that it couldn’t be Paris and that Whittock could be heard coughing because that was the right answer.
It seemed to stop Ingram in the middle of the sentence, but he couldn’t shake his belief, the correct answer was Berlin and again, there are reports that Whittock blows his nose.
His compatriot Larry Whittock was now suspicious of Whittock’s noise.
He then testified at Ingram’s trial and told the jury that he thought there was a tendency to cough – but said he was not sure how much it helped the major.
Whittock also always insisted that he had suffered from a persistent cough for most of his life and also had hay fever and a dust allergy, which were disturbing at night.
Quiz: Who wants to be a millionaire
But Ingram’s cough and unusual behavior was enough to convince the producers that he was cheating, and just days after his big win, the check was stopped.
However, many believe that the Ingrams were wrongly sentenced, including Helen McCrory, who plays the Ingrams lawyer in ITV’s Quiz, added: “The fact that many people at the time did not hear the cough …
“Chris Tarrant did not hear the cough, the person sitting opposite did not hear the cough, people on either side did not hear the cough, but for some reason he [Charles Ingram] heard the cough – really?
“Now, for some reason, maybe he did. Maybe it was a full configuration, or maybe not. You’re just looking for a truth. “
- The quiz is on ITV at 9 p.m. tonight.