Spaced Out

Filed under: Media Pranks, The History of Pranks

Submitted by Mike Ibanez:

Space cadets taken in by TV hoax
December 17, 2005

_41132026_spacecadets_pa_story200.jpgThree contestants have spoken of their disbelief after being fooled into thinking they went into space for the UK reality show Space Cadets. The three believed they had blasted off from a cosmonaut training camp in Russia, but were in fact in a fake spaceship in a warehouse in Suffolk.

They cheered up when told they had each won £25,000 ($44,300).

But one contestant, teaching assistant Keri Hasset from Birmingham, said she was “heartbroken” by the prank.

Fake ceremony

“When I thought we were coming back to Earth I was planning my speech. I was going to say it had been my childhood dream. Now I’m a little bit heartbroken,” she said.

Ms Hasset, plasterer Paul French, 26 from Bristol, and footballer/recruitment consultant Billy Jackson, 25, from Kent, had suspicions they were being tricked when they had to hold a ceremony for a celebrity Russian dog called Mr Bimby on the spaceship.

“This is a spacecraft but it feels like a caravan,” Paul told his fellow astronauts.

“And if we were going to space and they were weighing us for our health, they wouldn’t use scales like you get at home, would they?”

On discovering the show was a fake, Billy told Channel 4: “My mum and dad are gonna love this.

“This is the biggest wind-up ever. This is wicked.”

“Aw man,” said Paul. “We’re not astronauts. We’re just asses.”

The show, presented by Johnny Vaughan, built a full-scale replica of a Russian space training camp in a disused hangar near Ipswich.

The ten original contestants had been whittled down to three over the course of two weeks, with the winners believing they were becoming Britain’s first space tourists.

Channel 4 invested millions in the hoax but viewing figures slipped during the series.