Friday, 8 August 2008

THERE was something that didn’t ring entirely true about The Secret Millionaire (Ch4, Tues). Quite a lot of things, in fact.
Multi- millionaire James Benamor gave up his jet-setting lifestyle for a couple of days to spend time under cover as a volunteer in Manchester’s Moss Side.
After being moved to tears by three projects helping teenagers stay out of a life of crime, he revealed his true identity and gave the charity workers anything from £10,000 to £50,000.
They were all gobsmacked. Well, a bit. Actually, we couldn’t help thinking that, like us, they’d all seen The Secret Millionaire on telly before and guessed what James was up to.
Also, we were a bit suspicious about how the philanthropist “found” his chosen projects.
At first, we saw James wandering the streets stopping random members of the public to talk to them about “what they thought about volunteering”. Not surprisingly, most looked at him as though he were a total nutcase.
One bloke, not unreasonably, commented: “I don’t know anything about it, actually, mate.”
And we couldn’t help sympathising with the thuggish-looking gentleman who intervened as James was talking to a group of teens and basically told them to stay away from the weirdo.
Miraculously, though, our hero managed to happen across some genuinely deserving cases. Amazing, really. Or do you think maybe a researcher had set it all up beforehand?
Anyway, the thing that really bugged us was we didn’t really like James that much. Not even when he gave away all that dosh.
Probably, it was the way that he’d made his £77m. Running a “highly successful” company that offered loans to people who’d been refused credit by everyone else. Nice.
Indeed, almost the first sentence we heard James utter was along the lines of: “There isn’t a company out there that we compete with that I don’t want to see smashed into the ground.”
How pleasant.
OK, maybe he “went on a journey” and was a changed man at the end of his experience.
But we can’t help suspecting that James went back to his office with a load of great new leads to follow up in the Manchester area.