PUNKED ON THE PRINCE
Hoodwinked on a Harry lookalike is the premise of the latest reality TV show, 12 American women being flown to London and led to believe that they are competing for the heart of the prince of bachelors
Is I Wanna Marry Harry one of the meanest reality shows ever? Or do the American women taking part deserve what they get for being silly enough to believe Prince Harry would go on a reality TV show to find love?
The premise of the Network Ten program is this: 12 American women longing for love travel to England for what they are told is their chance to date an eligible bachelor.
They stay in a Downton Abbey-style castle with no access to phones or internet.
When the women glimpse a man who looks a lot like Prince Harry leaving a helicopter surrounded by security, they speculate it could be the real royal McCoy.
The ginger-haired lad is Matthew Hicks from south London, an environmental consultant.
The women are not told Hicks is Harry but the show’s creators go to extraordinary lengths to have them believe he is the real deal.
Executive producer Danny Fenton said that even after learning Hicks’ true identify the women said they enjoyed being part of the show.
“The kind of nuance of the casting was that these girls all have been unlucky in love, they all kind of believed in the fairytale romance and so they were more susceptible to believe what they saw than maybe most would,” he said.
“As far as I was aware, there wasn’t one girl who felt kind of duped or upset by the experience.”
Each week “Harry” eliminates one woman from the group and finally reveals his true identity when he chooses his “princess”.
The other women learn about the trick after being eliminated, but their reactions aren’t part of the show.
There is the usual undermining and competition among the women as each tries to win “Harry” for herself.
Most of the show was filmed in and around the castle but “Harry” takes the final three women to London.
As they stroll around the London Eye area, one woman spots a Prince Harry mask at a souvenir shop and realises it doesn’t match their “Harry”.
The women are whisked away by chaperones and the show’s creators have a mask made overnight of Hicks and planted in the same shop, to which the women return the next day.
Fenton said that Hicks and the winning woman remained in contact.
Just 2.1 million viewers tuned into to watch the first episode of I Wanna Marry Harry when it aired this month on Fox in the US. The series premieres tomorrow night at 8.30pm on Network Ten.
Prince Harry lookalike Matthew Hicks, star of the reality TV dating show
I Wanna Marry Harry,
which is screening on Network Ten.