Monday 20 February 2017

RTE filming The Secret Millionaire

Published 16/04/2011 | 05:00

It is the hit programme where a millionaire leaves their luxurious life behind and takes on a secret identity to live undercover in a deprived part of the country.

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Going incognito into impoverished communities, they volunteer to work alongside locals on worthy projects.

Until the final day when the moneybags comes clean and reveals their true identity, showering their new friends with gifts of thousands of euro to improve their lives...

The Diary can exclusively reveal that RTé has begun filming an Irish edition of Channel 4 show The Secret Millionaire.

But struggling to emerge from the worst recession in the industrialised world, and with the country a recipient of an EU-IMF bailout, are there really enough millionaires in Ireland to merit such a show?

And with businesses going bust day after day, would an Irish secret millionaire still be a millionaire by the end of filming?

RTé's Dragon's Den is a case in point, with at least one Dragon dropping out and the remaining venture capitalists with less cash to invest.

However, the biggest problem for RTé's Secret Millionaire will be keeping them secret. That's according to solicitor to the stars Gerald Kean, not short a few bob himself.

"Secret Millionaire is a great concept but there are very few wealthy people, or millionaires in Ireland who are not known. Ireland is very different to England.

"Everyone knows everyone else in Ireland. I think Irish millionaires who have made money and stayed under the radar will want to stay there and not give up that anonymity for a TV show.

"The other problem the programme makers face is that Irish people tend to ask more questions and be more inquisitive than the English, who are more reserved," said Kean, who has a number of millionaire clients and is not taking part in the programme.

But with one Irish edition of Secret Millionaire already in the can, an RTé insider, who has seen a pilot, said they were happy the format worked over here.

"Not everybody who has been successful at business in Ireland is as well known as, let's say, Bill Cullen.

"There are hundreds of people who have made their money under the radar and now want to give something back," said the insider.

Station insiders are also pleased with how the new series will centre on communities around Ireland and the good work being done by volunteers.

"RTé are always looking for a format that celebrates that sense of community and gives recognition to the voluntary sector. Throwing a millionaire into the mix certainly can make it a bit more interesting.

"The Secret Millionaire is a powerful format, rooted in volunteerism and community philanthropy. We think its going to be a very popular show," they added.

With the millionaires trying to remain Anonymous, you wouldn't be too surprised to learn that Animo Television, the independent production company behind the RTé2 hidden camera show, are involved in making the programme.

They are purveyors of "popular factual entertainment shows that harness the power of community", such as Feargal Quinn's Retail Therapy, and Celebrity Bainisteoir. RTé's Secret Millionaire begins in June.

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