Chris Tarrant has said Charles Ingram was “a rotter, a cad and a bandit”, adding he has “beef” with TV drama Quiz for casting doubt over his conviction.
The former army major and his wife Diana were found guilty of cheating their way to the top prize on ITV game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
A lawyer for the couple said they are planning to appeal against their conviction.
The drama about the scandal starring Matthew Macfadyen and Sian Clifford as the couple, Michael Jibson as co-conspirator Tecwen Whittock and Michael Sheen as Tarrant, concluded on ITV on Wednesday night.
Asked what he thought of the show, which was written by James Graham, Tarrant told Chris Moyles on Radio X: “It was very well made wasn’t it? It was actually very well done but it is a drama, it’s not factual.
“So most of those conversations were made up because that’s what playwrights do.
“I mean the bottom line is he’s a rotter and a cad and a bandit and he was guilty. No question in my mind at all that he was guilty.”
He added: “And there were so many things in there that they didn’t include.
“My beef with it is that they did a very strange but very convincing defence QC – that woman, Helen McCrory – a very good defence wind-up but they did not do any prosecution wind-up.
“Now, in any court of law the prosecution does the last bit and when the major and his wife and Tecwen were on the actual court case, the prosecution guy did the most brilliant sum-up, bringing all the strands in – the coughing and the bleepers and all the stuff – and went to the jury and they went ‘guilty, guilty, guilty’.
“They didn’t do that last night at all, they just stopped on her, and you’re going ‘oh yeah, I think he might be … oh poor bloke, poor little man – all that – maybe he’s innocent’.
“I think it was – that bit was a bit of production company skulduggery basically. I mean, they wanted you to think ‘blimey I don’t think he was guilty’.”
Remembering the night Ingram won in 2001, Tarrant said: “I’ve always said, I saw nothing. But the studio that night was like a madhouse.
“People were screaming and gasping just because he was so, you know … he’s a serving British Army Major who’s on, I don’t know, £30k a year, rented accommodation or whatever, and he’s going ‘oh yes £500,000, let’s risk it, let’s play’ and all this and you think: ‘Why would you do that?’
“The studio was like a madhouse. People were screaming, people were coughing everywhere because people always cough in studios so I didn’t hear Tecwen. Afterwards I had to sit through the floor squad the next day and go through the tapes and it’s like ‘oh my god, what is going on’.”
He added: “I think a lot of people today will be waking up going ‘oh that poor major, I think they’ve done him up’.
“We wouldn’t – the police prosecuted him, we didn’t. At the time I think we were getting audiences of something like 13 or 14 million. We sold it to 132 countries around the world – America, Australia, India, etc – so why would we go out on a limb to try to prosecute one of these guys?
“Of course we thought he was guilty, no question. And nothing has changed my mind, to be honest. It (Quiz) was very well done, though.”