Agent for change on mur­der mile

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

HE barely looks old enough to shave, but Ben Way is one of Bri­tain’s youngest self-made multi-mil­lion­aires. At 16 he was run­ning a com­pany from his bed­room. Ten years later his five com­pa­nies have made him mil­lions. So what does he do? He works, ac­cord­ing to the nar­ra­tor of this en­gag­ing pro­gram, in cut­tingedge tech­nolo­gies.

‘‘ We’ve done ev­ery­thing from putting some­one’s logo on the moon to cre­at­ing new med­i­cal de­vices,’’ Way clar­i­fies. But this re­al­ity tele­vi­sion pro­gram, which has al­ready ap­peared on pay TV’s Life­Style chan­nel, is not so much con­cerned with how peo­ple make their money as how they give it away.

Free money? Yes, in­deed. This self­fi­nanced largesse is at the heart of The Se­cret Mil­lion­aire . Each episode pro­files a mil­lion­aire who is pre­pared to go un­der­cover among the se­ri­ously un­der­priv­i­leged to try to work out who may be the best re­cip­i­ents for gifts of £ 20,000 ($ 44,000).

‘‘ I re­ally think that a few thou­sand pounds used in the right way can change some­body’s life,’’ Way says.

An­other ap­peal­ing qual­ity of the show is the to­tal lack of com­pet­i­tive­ness. No­body has to get voted off, rit­u­ally hu­mil­i­ated or see their mates tri­umph while they miss out be­cause no­body sus­pects money is an op­tion. Youth work­ers are gen­er­ally not ex­pected to empty their pock­ets for those in their care.

It takes con­sid­er­able co­jones for the mil­lion­aires to move into ar­eas char­ac­terised by de­pri­va­tion, not just be­cause they have to give up their pala­tial digs and rich per­son’s com­forts but be­cause vi­o­lence, even mur­der, is a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity.

Self-made rich kid: Ben Way in

Way will be mov­ing out of his home in Lon­don’s chichi May­fair for 10 days to live in Hack­ney, the city’s tough­est bur­rough.

‘‘ You are in the heart of the mur­der mile,’’ the man­ager of the lo­cal youth club says. ‘‘ A lot of peo­ple are killed here.’’ In­deed, 32 peo­ple were killed there in one year re­cently, putting Hack­ney on par with Chicago.

So how does a rich-looking young bloke with a cam­era crew in tow wher­ever he goes pass him­self off? As a par­tic­i­pant in a doc­u­men­tary about vol­un­tary youth work­ers, of course. He’s not al­ways suc­cess­ful.

‘‘ Where you from, Ben?’’ asks James, the youth club’s im­pos­ing phys­i­cal trainer. ‘‘ You look like you’re part of the royal fam­ily, bro.’’

Way holds his nerve, then it’s on with meet­ing the lo­cals and the kids, find­ing out how they tick and work­ing out who he wants to help.

Per­haps the fi­nal fac­tor in the show’s ap­peal is the change wrought, not just in the re­cip­i­ents of the largesse but in the mil­lion­aire. Al­ways, there’s the firm moral les­son; hu­man val­ues are a higher rev­e­la­tion than all the money in the world.

Ian Cuth­bert­son

The Se­cret Mil­lion­aire

One may well be the loneli­est num­ber, but without it and zero there would be no such thing as bi­nary, claimed as the in­ven­tion of Ger­man math­e­ma­ti­cian Got­tfried Leib­niz. Bi­nary made com­put­ers pos­si­ble and, without them, what would lit­tle boys do? Thank heav­ens for lit­tle No 1.

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