TAKE 12 gullible American girls, a stately home and a bloke who, if you close your eyes and turn away, looks vaguely like Prince Harry. And whaddya got?
A hen party in Magaluf at best. At worst? A television show called I Wanna Marry Harry which, far from being Frank Bruno’s Sportsnight catchphrase, is a “dating show with a difference”.
The difference being the suitor is a lookalike, of sorts, whose task is to convince the female contestants he’s the Queen’s grandson.
And not a “regular guy” named Matt Hicks.
That’s right. Shocking as it may be, Prince Harry hasn’t actually agreed to take part in an ITV2 game show.
Yet for the girls, or at least the ones dumb enough to play along with the ruse, it’s “the ultimate fairytale”.
It truly is. Glorified drain cleaner from Exeter attempts to dupe a dozen backstabbing bunny boilers, whose volume is set permanently at 9.5, into believing he’s fourth in line to the throne before dumping them one by one each week.
It’s like reading from the pages of Hans Christian Andersen, isn’t it?
The only slight problem is he’s the least convincing lookalike since Vic Reeves’ Noddy Holder.
“I get mistaken for Prince Harry almost every day,” he claimed.
By who? The visually impaired?
To avoid confusion, the producers helpfully flash up the caption: “Matt, 23, not really Prince Harry.”
They actually believe they can pull this off for eight weeks, flying him around in a helicopter, teaching him to fence, shoot and play polo, and even providing fake servants and twitchy security.
If only they’d dyed his eyebrows ginger along with his hair.
Half the girls are airheads: “I’m a little off my rocker.” “The guys I date just get me drunk and make out with me in the back of a car.” “I’m a pre-med molecular biology student with an interest in ophthamology. “
The rest are horrors, especially Meghan: “I don’t see the other girls as competition. I’m smart, I’m funny, I’m beautiful.”
Beyond these is one true breakout star. The “prince”, you see, isn’t the only one disguising their identity.
Yet not one of the girls looked twice at “butler” Kingsley and said: “Hey, wait a minute. Isn’t that immigration official Bob Stephenson? You know. He was in Corrie for a couple of episodes in 2011.”
Astonishingly, bit-part actor Paul Leonard’s alter-ego has gone undetected.
The real issue, however, is this is all just The Bachelor done badly – the same would have been achieved had Channel 5 hired a Gavin Henson double.
That said, I Wanna Marry Harry is tremendous. Dreadful. But tremendous.
And I’d like to echo the thoughts of Matt Hicks: “I’m completely caught up in this fairytale and yet I just want to scream out, ‘This is absolutely ridiculous!’”
With you, ’arry.
SEVEN weeks of auditions, 10 hours of live semi-finals and it all boiled down to one question.
Which singing act in Britain’s Got Talent’s final would make Simon Cowell richer?
All five of them. But mostly the chosen ones Bars & Melody, I suspect.
Only Paddy & Nico, box-of-frogs special delivery Lettice Rowbotham and Jon Clegg’s Dec had a chance of breaking the monotony following the worst-ever series.
Fun acts were cast aside, camp took over and Amanda Holden punching the air in the last semi-final as she crushed a 15-year-old’s dreams was a horrible sight.
As David Walliams told Kony Puppets: “I couldn’t quite see the point. I mean it was funny for a little bit.”
So lies BGT 8.
HOW do you help an obviously psychologically-traumatised reality show contestant settle in to their new surroundings?
Get Emma Willis to tell him to cheer up, stick him in a Perspex box, raise it 20ft off the ground and leave him there isolated for the first night.
So, with C5’s duty of care fulfilled, Big Brother 15 stumbled out of the blocks.
Or possibly Celebrity Big Brother.
Wayne Rooney’s ex-vice girl Helen Wood and Kylie’s former rapper Jazzy P have bigger claims to fame than CBB’s Bobby Sabel, Danica Thrall and Casey Batchelor.
There’s also a “global oil and gas headhunter” who I assume has the decapitated trophies of BP and Exxon Mobil’s chief executives on her mantelpiece, a Marcus Collins vanity case and Towie and Made In Chelsea male clones.
As for the theme, the only “power trip” I’ll be making is with my index finger.
To the off button.
SUSANNA Reid defending Good Morning Britain’s abysmal ratings: “Four weeks in is too early to judge.”
She’s absolutely right. I can only apologise for being hasty.
It’s now five weeks in. Axe the stupid thing.
I BOUGHT A Rainforest.
Yeah? Well I bought a round in a pub once.
You don’t hear me banging on about it.
MIDSUMMER is around the corner, days are long and nocturnal animals won’t come out to play until well after 9pm.
Must be time for BBC2’s Springwatch then (8pm-9pm), with its welcome array of beaver, tits and Chris Packham double entendre: “Spectacular viewing to see all those blackcock battling for position.”
They’ve had live badger dung, a rat crapping in Michaela Strachan’s pocket and, topping it all, “something completely weird”.
He’s called Martin Hughes-Games.
THIS week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...
* Springwatch’s fox cubs and tawny owl chick.
* BBC1 clearing its daytime decks for D-Day 70: The Heroes Return.
* Britain’s oldest escort, 85-year-old great-granny Sheila Vogel-Coupe, offering her services to This Morning’s Phillip Schofield.
* This exchange on C4’s Surviving The Island... Bear Grylls: “I’d get up in the morning, wander into the sea, do my business, wipe my backside, salute as it floats out into the Pacific.” IT trainer Fletch: “So a Bear doesn’t s**t in the woods then?”
* And Secret Lives of Cats narrator Martin Clunes: “Scientists have discovered that stroking has a surprisingly positive effect on us.” Blimey. Who did the research? Sheila Vogel-Coupe?
A VERY British Airline narrator: “At Heathrow terminal five, the crew are arriving for the inaugural long-haul A380 flight to LA. And for the big send-off, the airline has booked Matt Cardle.”
And people said he’d get no big gigs after being ditched by Simon Cowell.
THIS week’s Worst Timekeeping award goes to...
Dale (or possibly Charlie), of QVC ring-floggers Dale & Charlie: “The Earth is billions of years old. If we think of it like a 24-hour clock, diamonds were created in the early hours of the morning, but we only discovered them 4,000 years ago.”
I think your clock’s slow.
THIS week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...
* The One Show’s casually racist World Cup wallplanner.
* The precocious brats on C4’s Dinner At 11. (Apply for The Apprentice in seven years, will ya?)
* Good Morning Britain’s Andi Peters finishing the line: “This is the last day of the Wheel of Cash,” with, “but it will be back.”
* Embarrassing Bodies’ Christian Jessen advising a woman with “an itchy vagina for 12 months” to see a gynaecologist. (You reckon?)
* The creepy sight of Springwatch’s Chris Packham re-enacting avian mating rituals on Michaela Strachan.
* And Adrian Chiles giving a taste of what we can expect from ITV’s World Cup coverage: “Welcome to Rio where... sorry, welcome to Miami.” It’s gonna be a long month.