Home Tech The reality show that tricked women into falling in love with a fake Prince Harry

The reality show that tricked women into falling in love with a fake Prince Harry

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The reality show that tricked women into falling in love with a fake Prince Harry

The wild, format-demanding, and often chilling world of early 2000s reality TV has spawned some brilliant throwback podcast series in recent times.

There’s Something About Miriam was one of the most striking examples, with its short “six guys date the woman of their dreams and discover she’s transgender.” Wondery is exciting Hard reality (now adapted for television as Miriam: Death of a Reality Star, airing on Channel 4 from April 29) revisited the murky series after its star Miriam Rivera was found dead fifteen years after it was filmed.

Big Brother, The X Factor, The Swan, Love Island – the ethics and exploitations of these era-defining reality shows were revealed in Pandora Sykes and Sirin Kale’s excellent investigative series. Unreal: a critical history of reality television. Similarly, Jacques Peretti spoke with producers of films like The Bachelor and Married at First Sight to discover if everything has really gone wrong for the genre.

Now it’s the turn of I Wanna Marry Harry, a 2014 show about single American women competing for the affections of a man they thought was Prince Harry (but who was actually a guy named Matt who had to dye his hair ginger).

In The Bachelor of Buckingham Palace, TV expert and Guardian contributor Scott Bryan talks to former contestants and finds out how easy it was to be fooled into accepting such a ridiculous concept. It’s one of our picks of the week and you can read Scott’s essay on how he put it together here.

Other standout options include a deep dive into the competitive world of huge educational scholarships and a scripted drama about artificial intelligence and grief from Idris and Sabrina Elba. Read on for our top five groups hosted by pop stars.

Hollie Richardson
Television editing assistant

Picks of the week

Sir Lenny Henry, star of Halfway. Photograph: David Vintiner/The Guardian

The competition
All episodes now on Wondery+, widely available starting Monday
When Shima Oliaee was a teenager, she flew to Mobile, Alabama, to compete for a lucrative scholarship. She didn’t win. More than 20 years later, she returns as a judge and goes behind the scenes of the grueling two-week event, in which a girl is crowned Distinguished Young Woman of America and wins a $40,000 education. It’s a tough, competitive story that Oliaee tells very well. Hannah Verdier

The letter: the domino effect
Widely available, weekly episodes.
When two young parents were found murdered in Utah on a snowy day in 1982, a man confessed, but no one could understand why he did it. In Amy Donaldson’s sensitively handled true crime podcast, her loved ones share memories of the incident and try to fill in the blanks and heal, amid so many unanswered questions. high voltage

Half way
Audible, all episodes now available
Idris and Sabrina Elba raise some powerful ethical questions about AI and grief in this scripted podcast, with Lenny Henry (above) leading a strong cast. A tech company is making a lot of money recreating the personalities of deceased loved ones, but when a woman uses it to get her brother back, trouble arises. high voltage

Long Shadow: In the weapons we trust
Widely available, weekly episodes.
Twenty-five years after the Columbine High School shooting, Garrett Graff opens a rational discussion about the right to bear arms in the United States. People affected by gun violence weigh in on him, along with those who hunt and depend on guns for their business, but hearing Columbine witnesses cry at the memory of that day sharpens the debate. high voltage

The Buckingham Palace Bachelor
Wondery+, all episodes now available
In 2013, Matt Hicks impersonated Prince Harry for a dating show in which American women competed for “Harry’s” affection. Who the hell would fall for that? Well, in this crazy series, TV journalist Scott Bryan talks to former contestants and finds out how easily they were tricked into participating in something so absurd. Hollie Richardson

There’s a podcast for that.

Dua Lipa, host of At Your Service. Photograph: JMEnternational/Getty Images

Hannah Verdier choose five of the best podcasts presented by pop starsfrom Tim Burgess’ listening parties to Sam Smith’s delicate HIV story

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Queer music
Scissor Sisters singer Jake Shears is a frontman who knows when to step back from center stage and listen, as he demonstrates on his fabulous podcast. Electro-pop goddess Peaches, her cabaret co-star Self Esteem and Years and Years’ Olly Alexander are among the stars joining him to discuss her songs in a warm and reflective atmosphere. While asking if queer music exists, Shears showcases the best of it, starting with Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), with help from the team around the icon. Andy Bell’s analysis of Erasure’s A Little Respect is a beautiful history lesson.

Tim’s Listening Party
The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess rescued lockdown nights with his Twitter listening parties and the magic continues with this podcast. “I’m not a broadcaster by any means,” he warns his guests, and his introverted, lo-fi interview style means he’s having a conversation rather than firing off questions. Artists love him and he understands what they do, without being afraid to say it when he is a fan. The enigmatic Sparks openly talk about his influence, and The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs tells many stories about his membership in the pioneering band.

Living Positive: HIV from Terrence Higgins to Today
Sam Smith leaves the flamboyant pants and pop star persona at the door for this sensitive podcast about people affected by HIV. Higgins is the opening subject, and those close to him remember the first man to die from an AIDS-related illness in the United Kingdom. Smith goes beyond the obvious narrative and traces the early years of the crisis to the first effective treatments in the mid-1990s, with true empathy for the affected communities. It is particularly moving to hear people living with HIV tell their stories and what the future will look like thanks to Higgins’ legacy.

Questlove Supreme
The Roots’ lovable drummer, filmmaker, and pretty much everything else corrals high-profile guests, including LL Cool J, Chaka Khan, and Michelle Obama, on his long-running podcast. He strays far beyond conventional talk and hackneyed topics. Mariah Carey sat down for an all-night, two-part interview in which she revealed news of a secret grunge album and her talent for impersonating Aretha Franklin. There’s also a great discussion with the lesser-seen André 3000 about playing by ear and feeling the music, rather than just learning the notes.

Dua Lipa: at your service
Celebrity interview podcasts seem like an easy option for both host and guest to get publicity, but Dua Lipa brings quality to hers. Despite being a Grammy and Brit Award-winning pop star, it’s clear that she has taken the time to understand her subjects, and she does her own interviews, and she does them well. Vulture rather snobbishly described At Your Service as a “mid-level pop intellectual podcast,” but that’s no bad thing, with Lipa bringing in her own experiences to make politics and culture accessible.

Why not try it…?

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  • Life Coach Jamie Hess Gratitudea guide to “turning pain into purpose” told through stories of perseverance and acceptance.

  • The latest from the powerful Tortoise podcast, Who trolled Amber?which explores the origins of the hate campaign organized against actress Amber Heard.

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