Agent for change on murder mile
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.
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.