INTERVIEW: Gavin Spokes talks about starring in James Graham’s QUIZ

The show is centred around the TV quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. How are you with game shows like this and how far do you think you could get on the programme if you went on it?
Oh, goodness. No idea. I always thought my general knowledge wasn’t bad. However, as I discovered during the run in Chichester. I wouldn’t get very far compared to many of the very knowledgeable members of my cast mates. Clever buggers, all of them.

When the story first broke it was major headline news. What do you remember from that time?
To be honest I don’t remember a huge amount about it. I’d graduated not long before it happened and was too busy trying to earn my rent in London to be overly focused on it. I’d stopped watching it when I was at drama school in about 1999/2000. Then during the trial I was living in the states. So that kind of passed me by.

In your research for the play, have you had any contact with those directly involved in the scandal?
Yes we have met various people that feature in the play. That was fascinating, enlightening to say the least.

It has been almost 17 years since the scandal. Why do you think it is still capturing the public’s imagination?
Erm I don’t know. Various reasons I guess. People love/ hate a ‘cheat’. How did they do it etc? Did they do it?????? Also, the program was a huge success. I mean it’s coming back to our screens. It’s in a lot of people’s memory bank. There’s been documentary’s about it. And of course the book ‘Bad Show’ was published in 2015. Which is what James Graham’s brilliant play is based on.

Why is now the right time to re-examine the case?
Like I said the book Bad Show written by Bob Woffinden and James Plaskett was released only a few years back. Which re-examines the court case and evidence which led to their convictions. But on the wider scale, the play examines, truth, what is truth. The media, their role in all of our choices and perceptions. Justice and who judges us.

When playing a real person, as opposed to a character, do you approach the role differently?
Not really. The basic acting fundamentals don’t really change. I’ve done it a few times now. You can never really ‘be’ that person. All you can do is put yourself in their shoes. Of course you do the research, read, watch video tapes, listen to audio clips and stuff like that. However I think if you can bring an essence of that persons spirit, then hopefully that would be enough for the audience. Full on impersonations are never as truthful I find.

It is an unusual topic for a play. How have audiences responded to the show?
It’s been one of the most exciting productions I’ve ever been involved with. The audience are implicit in the production. They are an active jury on what they are being presented with. Whenever we’ve had a chance to chat with the audience, the response has always been very positive. They love to discuss the case. ‘Did they do it?’ ‘What do you think?’ They also seem constantly surprised by the play. Which I think is wonderful.

Charles Ingram is somewhat infamous. Do you think the play will alter the public’s perception of him?
That’s a really tough one to answer. Erm, probably. The Ingrams in particular have been through the mill, life has been bloody tough for them. It’s more about wether you believe they had a fair trial or not.

Interview by Harrison Fuller

Click here to book tickets to see QUIZ at the Noel Coward Theatre


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