Any TV format can be improved by putting the word celebrity in the title and Channel 4’s latest offering is Celebrity Hunted for Stand Up to Cancer.  I never watched the non-celebrity version and I stumbled on this by accident, but I am hooked.

The premise is that 4 celebrity couples (I use the word “celebrity” and “couple” loosely as 3 of the celebs are reality stars and none of the couples are couples in the Biblical sense.  Well I don’t think so anyway) are dropped in a location and have to evade being caught by the hunters.

Celebrity Hunted: Series 3 – Ben Owen and the team

Hunter HQ appears to be based in the city of London as before we cut to them, we see shots of the gherkin et al, but they do that before the board room sequence on The Apprentice and that is shot on an industrial estate in West London.  My guess is that Hunter HQ is actually in an abandoned branch of Comet just of the M4 near Reading.  Wherever it is, it has very harsh lighting which I think would fall foul of current HSE recommendations.  The Hunters are merely identified as being from various branches of the security services.  The head honcho is always identified as being an `’ex sniper”.  If he was still a current sniper, it would certainly add a new frisson of excitement to the end game.  Alas the most dangerous think that this group now face is getting their lanyards caught in the shredder (which is a real hazard when working in an office).  The allegedly have access to all the intel and tec that the state has, which appears to mean that they can tap into EVERYTHING!   

The celebs are former MEP and the man who sired the current Prime Minister (at the time of writing) Stanley Johnson. He has been paired up with his former jungle mate Georgia “Toff” Toffolo. Rugby legends Martin Offiah and Gavin Henson. Chefs Aldo Zili and Jean-Christophe Novelli and TOWIE stars Lucky Mecklenburgh and Lydia Bright.

As in the jungle, the show is being dominated by Stanley and Toff.  They are the perfect pseudo grandfather, granddaughter combo. She is sweet and savvy; he is where Boris got his brains from.  Stanley hasn’t quite worked out that if you take money out from a cash point that people know where you are (something he has done on several occasions).  Apparently, Stanley used to be a spy. Well, he used to work in an office which dealt with spies.  So, in the same way as receptionist at your GP’s is not qualified to diagnose you, Stanley really does not know a lot about spy craft.  In fact, the receptionist at my GP would be a better spy.  Judging by how difficult it is to get an appointment out of her, I can’t see her ever cracking under enemy interrogation.

The two rugby players are “The Odd Couple” with Gavin Henderson being the brains and Martin Offiah being…well Martin Offiah. I’m not sure he has realised how the game is played yet and keeps doing things which lead them to both nearly getting caught.  Please Martin, never sign up for Survivor.  You won’t.

Lucy and Lydia have mainly spent the first two episodes being driven around by her agent whilst posing for Instagram photos in their active wear; and the 2 chefs have spent most of the time in a tent in the New Forrest.

The real eye opener of the whole series is the way that the hunters operate.  I’m sure some people will be horrified at the way they can tap into CCTV and listen in on phone calls, but I find it slightly reassuring…I think.  (NB: I decided after watching this programme that from now on, whenever I sit down at the laptop to write this blog, I really should put some clothes on, just in case they can tap into my webcam.  Then I discovered sticking a Post It note over the camera does the same trick.  Freedom regained…in more ways than one).

It’s also amazing how much they rely on Google and Facebook to build up profile of the hunted’s network of contacts. The guys in the industrial estate are doing sterling work.   It’s the guys in black on the floor who seem to be letting the side down!  I’m sure they will all evade capture until the last episode, but it’s a good romp, all in the name of charity.  Incidentally, don’t just switch over when the cancer bit comes on at the end.  In episode 2 Stephen Merchant appears in one of the funniest and informative appeal films I have seen in a long time. (NB contains language which may offend)

Celebrity Hunted is on Channel 4 on Sunday’s at 9:00 pm or catch up on All4.

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