The broadcast of the first edition of prime time gameshow Fool’s Gold – in which contestants have to convince family and friends that they are the victim of some terrible misfortune, in order to win big money prizes – has led to renewed calls for Britain’s notorious Channel Six TV station to have its broadcasting licence revoked. Critics have been left aghast by the programme, which shows Rotherham van driver Jimmy Broadhead telling his family that he has been diagnosed with a rare form of testicular cancer and has only weeks to live. “It was terrible – I really thought I was going to lose him,” sobs Broadhead’s now estranged wife, who has thrown him out of the family home and barred him from seeing his two young children. “The first thing I knew about it was when he suddenly started screaming in agony whilst we were making love! He started writhing around clutching at his groin and appeared to ejaculate blood! I was terrified!” Broadhead is seen keeping up his deception, simulating weight loss by wearing too-large clothes, before claiming that he is undergoing chemotherapy and shaving his head to simulate hair-loss. “It was a real shocker when he came into the pub bald and looking gaunt,” says drinking companion Bob Fetchett. “When he threw up all over the bar, telling us that it was the side effects of his chemo – Jesus! We really thought the poor bastard was dying!” The heartless thirty four year old also stained a pair of his underpants with sheep’s blood (supplied by the production team) and put them in the laundry basket. “I really thought that he was bleeding anally,” gasps his wife. ” When I told him about the stains, the little shit said that blood loss was, one of the side-effects of the chemotherapy and that he’d need a transfusion!”

Of course, Broadhead turned out to have a rare blood type, and scores of his friends and family were ‘tested’ by ‘doctors’ at the special ‘clinic’ treating him, before a supposed match was found. “I gave over seven pints of blood over a two week period,” says Fetchett. “I was so weak I could barely stand and I permanently lost the sight of one eye!” Broadhead now raised the hopes of his family, claiming that his condition could be cured by radical treatment involving him being castrated and a set of donor testicles replacing his own. Needless to say, this procedure could only be carried out privately, at great expense, in the US. “Obviously, we started a massive fundraising campaign, got the newspapers involved, the whole lot,” explains Fetchett. “I suffered severe burns to my scrotum and lost most of my pubic hair during a sponsored fart-lighting contest down the pub – but that was the kind of sacrifice we were all willing to make for Jimmy. The lying little bastard!” Meanwhile, the search for a suitable testicle donor began. “I was so worried about the lad, I offered him mine,” says his seventy nine year old Grandfather. “I mean, I don’t really need ’em at my age, do I? That said, they’re in perfect working order, so I underwent an extremely painful, and at my age bloody dangerous, series of tests to ascertain whether our bollocks were compatible!”

Broadhead’s family and friends only realised they had been duped when, along with millions of other TV viewers, they saw the programme, and learned that Jimmy was indeed now in the US, but instead of receiving ‘treatment’, was enjoying his £50,000 prize money. “He’ll have to go further than America to stop me finding him and cutting his cobblers off for real,” vowed a shocked Fetchett. Despite having to provide Broadhead with a new identity and round the clock protection as the result of such threats, Channel Six remains unrepentant over its decision to air the show. “It isn’t just a gameshow, but also an anthropological study,” declares Programme Director Brian Numpty, whose predecessor was once nearly lynched by a mob of irate TV clean-up campaigners after scheduling porn movies in prime time (see Channel Sex). “The show represents an attempt to find out just how far people will go for monetary reward in this increasingly materialistic world we live in. What price will they put on family, friends, morality, even their own dignity? It’s probably one of the most important programmes we’ve ever made! Not only that, but it got massive viewing figures – our best ever!”

Numpty promises that the second edition will be even more sensational. “We’ve got this roofer from Solihull who has to convince his family and mates that he’s a peadophile, and that the police are on to him! The question is – will they shop him, or will loyalty win out? It’s incredible,” he enthuses. “Even after she finds kiddie porn pics on his hard drive, his wife doesn’t turn him in – in fact she tries to cover up for him by destroying the evidence! And there’s an amazing scene where a mate he’s confided in catches our contestant hanging around outside his daughter’s school – he goes totally apeshit!” Numpty refused to confirm rumours that the episode includes one of the contestant’s friends revealing that he really is a convicted peadophile, now living under a new identity, or that it culminates with an angry mob of vigilantes fire bombing the contestant’s house.

Rival broadcasters have been quick to respond, with satellite channel Firmament TV announcing that it is to produce its own version of a successful US reality gameshow in which people are offered increasingly large amounts of money to act against their fundamental beliefs. “In the pilot we had this incredibly macho ex-Royal Marine and had him continually propositioned by a group of gay guys, offering him money to take it up the old Gary Glitter – he finally cracked, so to speak, at £25,000. I was really surprised he gave his arse up so cheaply,” explains Firmament’s Commissioning Editor Roland Rickover. “We were thinking of calling the series Queer Up the Arse for the Straight Guy but, apart from the legal implications, felt it might be a bit restrictive – obviously we’ll have to vary the challenge. In the US version, for instance, they got a black radical to dress up in Ku Klux Klan gear and attend racist rallies for just $30,000 – he even erected a blazing cross on his neighbour’s lawn! We’re thinking of seeing how much cash it would take for a devout Muslim to eat a bacon sandwich. It would be great TV – both entertainment and a serious sociological study of just how solid people’s belief systems and prejudices really are.” Numpty is unconvinced. “This is clearly just a cheap and tacky attempt to cash in on the success of our format by degrading and humiliating minority groups in the name of entertainment,” he says. “At least our show delivers an important lesson to all would-be good Samaritans: wake up and smell the coffee – altruism is for saps, you’ll just get shat on, it’s every man for himself out there in the big, bad world!”