New to our screens last month was Hunted, a thrilling reality show which follows 14 ordinary citizens attempting to live life on the run, in order to escape from the clutches of the advanced team of security investigators. Full of tension, drama, and moments that make you want to shout at the screen in frustration, this show is quickly becoming a must-see TV favourite!
The 14 contestants, referred to as ‘fugitives’, have to avoid capture from the team of private investigators, or the ‘hunters’, for 28 days. It doesn’t seem like much, but when you live in a country where everything you do leaves a digital trail, nothing is as easy as it seems. The fugitives were only told that they have been selected for the show a week before filming, meaning they didn’t have much time to plan an escape and hide their traces. And then, just to make things even more challenging, they had no clue when their life on the run would begin. One minute they were watching TV in the comfort of their homes, the next they were randomly told to start running, and suddenly they were the ones on TV.
“I’m doing this because the power of the State frightens me” declares 55-year-old doctor, Ricky Allen, the first fugitive we are introduced to in the programme. Disgruntled, and full of knowledge from spy books, Ricky was ready to prove that the surveillance state is not as powerful as he believes and fears it is.
But this show proves that privacy is essentially a thing of the past, and that if the state wants to find us, they would be able to find the information they need within hours. The team is led by former head of Counter Terrorism for London, Brett Lovegrove, who makes it clear that every move the contestants make is being watched. Getting money out of an ATM means the team will be alerted of their location; attempting to drive their cars on major roads results in their number plates being picked up by automatic number plate recognition systems; text and calls would act as a tracker. And of course, CCTV is everywhere, watching everything. So yes, pretty darn scary if you ask me.
The show is one full of tension and excitement as we watch the fugitives being tracked, cornered and captured. You honestly don’t know which side to route for: it feels good to know that criminals can be caught so quickly, but then again, you just can’t help really wanting for the contestants to make it through!
As I scrolled through Twitter, everyone else seemed to love it too. “Thinking I’d be a decent fugitive. Great and thought provoking TV” tweeted @MattJeffery4. @Jasmineemstewart also reassures others that this is no ordinary reality show, and to give it a go, “generally don’t get excited about reality TV but #Hunted is a different kettle of fish #loveit #icouldgoontherun”.
And that is why Hunted works so well. It is something entirely different and important, being a kind of social experiment and lesson to us all, whilst still being a great piece of evening entertainment that excites and frights.
If you had to disappear, what would you do?