If you thought Joe Millionaire was sneaky, wait until you watch women scrambling for the affections of a Prince Harry lookalike.
The Fox Network is steaming ahead with its plans for a reality series titled I Wanna Marry “Harry,” slated for broadcast this summer.
The setup: A dozen American women were shipped to England and ensconced in the sumptuous Englefield House in Berkshire.
Upon arrival, the women meet a rakish redhead they believe is Prince Harry, whom, they have been told, is keen to find an American bride.
In reality, this Harry is a working-class chap named Matthew Hicks, who has received a royal makeover to make him resemble the youngest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.
And no question the participants were chosen for their gullibility, or possibly because of their unfamiliarity with the British monarchy (the doppelganger only bears a vague resemblance to the real Prince Harry).
Over a scheduled eight-episode run, the faux Harry shamelessly courts the ladies and takes them out on extravagant dates fit for a princess.
The big reveal doesn’t come until the final chapter, when Harry chooses one of the women, thereby forcing the big dilemma: Does she love the Englishman for who he is? Or is it because they believe he’s fourth in line to the British throne?
The duplicitous concept has worked before. Back in 2003, Fox scored ratings gold with Joe Millionaire, a reality show in which single ladies competed for the affections of a handsome man they believed was extremely wealthy.
Although Joe – real name Evan Marriott – turned out to be a humble construction worker, the show became a pop-culture phenomenon with more than 34-million U.S. viewers watching the finale.
Joe Millionaire was conceived by Fox reality executive Mike Darnell, who also initiated plans to mount I Wanna Marry “Harry,” before he departed the network last spring. American Idol host Ryan Seacrest serves as one of the new show’s executive producers.
The real Prince Harry is reportedly on the verge of getting engaged to Cressida Bonas, who is reportedly going through “princess boot camp” to prepare for her entry into the hallowed monarchy.
Although a real engagement wouldn’t impact the inaugural airing of I Wanna Marry “Harry” – the show was filmed on the sly last summer and all episodes are already in the can – the prospect of a real royal wedding would certainly preclude a follow-up series.
Then again, remember the Fox sequel The Next Joe Millionaire? Neither does anyone else.