Paddy Shennan's column: Wake-up call to reality; Gullible wanna-be stars caught out.
IT had, on the face of it, looked like the most straightforward of tasks (The Great Reality TV Swindle, C4, Tues).
Sit back and laugh at a gormless gang of sad wannabes--who--never--will-bes getting their comeuppance? What could be easier, or more entertaining?
And this bunch did seem ridiculously gullible, along the lines of ``We've given up our homes, our jobs and our lives - because there was an ad in the paper which said we had a chance of winning pounds 100,000.
``But, more importantly, it also said we'd . . . BE ON TV!''
There are none so blind as those who desperately crave their 15 minutes of fame - together with spin-off commercial opportunities - at any and every expense to their self-esteem.
Only this lot weren't going to end up on the telly. Well, they were - but only as the subjects of an odd little documentary about how they were apparently hoodwinked by a young man with the real look of a TV luvvie. Well, he had shaggy hair and looked a bit vacant.
The Swindle threw up one or two interesting questions - certainly more interesting than the plight of the freshfaced young people whose sky-high hopes had been dashed.
But they were never answered. Nik Russian was the guy leading the boys and girls on a merry dance. We saw the film (shot by trainee camera operators who thought they were working for his production company NRP) of the would-be reality game show contestants going through the selection process.
We saw the whole charade unravelling, as the ``lucky ones'' arrived for the start of the great adventure that was never going to be. The goalposts, they discovered, had been moved just a touch. The pounds 100,000 could STILL be won - but only if a team could somehow make pounds 1m.
We then saw The Awful Truth slowly dawning on the suckers, their smallscale revenge - exposing Nik on the London Tonight programme - and Channel 4 climbing on board to make a TV programme about the TV programme-that-wasn't.
Nik, who had done a disappearing act, was tracked down by a C4 crew and one of those he had let down - and he basically told Nik: ``You've let us all down.''
Then Nik, having mumbled his apologies, walked off and, erm, that was it, really.
But what we didn't see - or hear - was any talk of the angry dupes making a complaint to the police or any other authority. Did or didn't they have a case? What had they signed?
Had they or hadn't they been deceived? And why didn't the producers of this programme make a song and dance about the traps TV wannabes can easily fall into?
It couldn't be anything to do with the fact that Channel 4 is the home of Big Brother - and, therefore, at the forefront of the reality TV circus.
PAYBACK TIME: Three of the victims of The Great Reality TV Swindle