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

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV - MELISSA JENK­INS

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.

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