Stephen Frears ‘to adapt’ Quiz play for ITV

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Frears (left) will direct Quiz, based on the ‘coughing scandal’ involving former army Major Charles Ingram (right)

Stephen Frears is to direct a forthcoming adaptation of James Graham’s Quiz for ITV, the BBC understands.

The acclaimed director has been approached by independent television production company Left Bank Pictures.

Twice Oscar-nominated Frears is one of the most influential directors of his generation and is currently Bafta-nominated for A Very English Scandal.

It’s not clear whether the show is a one-off or multi-part drama.

Graham, 36, is a British playwright who has written a series of blockbuster hits about the world of politics in recent years, including This House and Ink, which chronicled Rupert Murdoch’s ownership of The Sun newspaper.

Quiz, which premiered at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester in 2017, centred on the scandal of former British Army Major Charles Ingram, who was found guilty in court of cheating on the ITV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

The play later transferred to London.

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Graham described the incident, in which Ingram’s wife and a friend coughed in the audience each time he said the right answer, as “the most British crime in the history of the world.”

Earlier this year, Graham wrote Brexit: The Uncivil War for Channel 4, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch.

The combination of Frears and Graham will excite fans of both – which is to say, much of the British film and television establishment.

Frears is among the most garlanded English directors still working today, with credits including My Beautiful Laundrette, High Fidelity, The Queen and Philomena.

Last year, he directed A Very English Scandal, a three-part drama for the BBC, starring Hugh Grant as the former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe.

It has been nominated in four categories at the Bafta TV awards, (plus eight craft categories) held in London next month.

The filmmaker has been brought on board for Quiz by Left Bank Pictures founder Andy Harries, who like Graham, is a graduate of the University of Hull.

In recent years he has become one of the most powerful figures in British television, having made The Crown for Netflix.

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Andy Harries is founder of Left Bank Pictures, which made The Crown for Netflix

That show was a signature acquisition for the American streaming giant, declaring its ambition to swim in creative waters traditionally dominated by the likes of the BBC and ITV.

A date for broadcast of the ITV adaptation of Quiz has not yet been set.

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