Sian Clifford: 'Quiz gave Charles and Diana Ingram a voice'

The star of ITV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? drama on her lockdown viewing habits, helping to rehabilitate the coughing major, and winning a Bafta for Fleabag

Were there are any shows you enjoyed over lockdown that you didn’t expect to?
The Last Dance. I had no interest in or knowledge of basketball, and I didn’t even make the connection between Michael Jordan and the sport, because I just grew up with him being so famous. I had no idea about that period of history, and I’m now obsessed with basketball. It was such a well-made documentary that showed people and their flaws, as whole humans. I found it so compelling.

Who has been your TV villain of the year?
Jamie from Normal People. Who by my understanding is an absolute dreamboat of a human being in real-life. The embodiment of that character was amazing.

Is there a show you’re hoping will return in 2021?
Bake Off. It’s like a warm hug, that programme. I’ve gone through strong phases of what do I mentally have capacity for during this year? There have been periods where I could only watch animation, so I watched the whole Studio Ghibli collection. And then periods where I just wanted to watch a film or a limited series with a clear story arc. And then there’ve been periods where I just couldn’t watch anything with a strong narrative structure. And that’s when I’ve gone to cooking shows. A friend of mine just told me that MasterChef: The Professionals has just started. And I told myself, I’m not allowed to begin it until I’ve finished Bake Off. There’s something really comforting in that kind of show.

Which show are you looking forward to getting into?
The Queen’s Gambit is something everyone’s talking about, but I’m prioritising The Crown at the moment, just because I’ve already started that. And I try not to watch more than one thing at a time.

Sian Clifford, Matthew Macfadyen and Michael Sheen in Quiz.
Family fun … Sian Clifford, Matthew Macfadyen and Michael Sheen in Quiz. Photograph: Matt_Frost/ITV

Were you surprised at the reaction to Quiz?
Oh, it was amazing. Amazing. In the midst of all this tragedy, so many people were at home and, for the first time in probably years, because of the nature of how we watch and consume things now, people were watching things as a family live on television. So our ratings were enormous, which was incredible.

It was a story that explored values that are very close to me. Looking at the truth and the justice system and giving these characters some much needed humanity and a voice in a narrative that has been one-sided for nearly 20 years. I loved the conversation it sparked, it was really thrilling. And somehow we managed to not upset anyone who was involved. Everyone felt they were represented fairly, which is down to James Graham as much as anything. I’m so proud to have been a part of it.

You also won a Bafta for Fleabag – how was that?
Even though it was an incredibly intimate and quiet ceremony, I’ll never forget it. I got to share it with my friend. And it was a beautiful end to an 11-year chapter in my life with this character. Hopefully we can coerce Bafta into doing something for this year’s nominees next year, maybe as part of next year’s ceremony. It would be nice to get all those people together in a room. Phoebe and I spent 40 minutes in a digital waiting room with our wonderful fellow nominees and we just wanted to reach out to them. We were like it’s such a shame that there’s not going to be a big party where we can all just meet each other and connect. But I’m optimistic that something will happen.

Quiz is available on the ITV Hub.


Interview by Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

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