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How The Briefcase duped its contestants

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People will be left with a decision to make in Channel 9’s new social experiment TV show – The Briefcase, where people must decide whether to keep $100,000 or give some of it away. Courtesy: YouTube/Channel 9

Mandy McCracken and her husband Rod gave away $100,000 on the show, and received the same amount in return.


IT’S the controversial program that’s divided viewers, with many slamming it as cruel and awful — and now, new details have emerged about exactly how producers orchestrated the conceit central to Channel 9’s The Briefcase.

The program, which debuted last night, pits two hard-luck families against each other each week in a made-for-tv moral dilemma. Both families are given a briefcase filled with $100,000. They can keep the lot, give it all to the other family, or share a portion of their own choosing. The big twist: neither family knows the other is grappling with the exact same quandary.

As evidenced by last night’s episode, it’s harrowing viewing, as two decent, desperate families are forced to ask themselves who’s more in need of a life-changing cash injection.

The two couples meet to discover the show’s big twist.

The two couples meet to discover the show’s big twist.Source:Channel 9

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Andrew Backwell, head of programming and production at Channel Nine, revealed how families were recruited for the show, and duped into thinking they were appearing on a completely different program.

“We told people we were doing a show called Making Ends Meet, in which we were going to come and speak to them about their financial situation and provide some financial advice,” said Backwell.

“Deceit was part of my arsenal. What’s wrong with deceit if there’s good to come from it? If you were to cast this show and tell people from the outset this is what we’re doing, wouldn’t you necessarily get people who are grasping at celebrity?”

Tears are a constant on the show as the families grapple with the momentous decision they’re forced to make.

Tears are a constant on the show as the families grapple with the momentous decision they’re forced to make.Source:Channel 9

Blackwell went on to defend the show from its vocal critics, arguing that the local incarnation is a gentler beast than the original American version of the show, which aired in the US last year to damning reviews.

“In America it was more a freak show,” he said. “We’ve tried to go with average families that have fallen on hard times. Not by being slack or lazy or not giving a s**t, but through no fault of their own. You’re going to look at them and feel some compassion.”

The program debuted to soft numbers last night, placing as the evening’s 15th most-watched show nationwide with metro viewing figures of 733,000. By contrast, 7 and 10’s 7:30pm offerings, House Rules and MasterChef, scored viewing figures of 963,000 and 1,064,000 respectively.

Contestants are given a briefcase full of cash — and an impossible moral quandary.

Contestants are given a briefcase full of cash — and an impossible moral quandary.Source:Supplied