Prince Harry has spent his life under the prying lenses of the paparazzi. Despite his bad boy behaviour, his female fans continue to proliferate. So it is unsurprising that his royal stardom has given birth to a reality dating show. But it is his lookalike, Matthew Hicks, who gets the glory in I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with him to find out more…
THERE was no way Prince Harry would agree to a reality series; after all, his party animal shenanigans have landed him in plenty of hot water already.
But that was simply a “grey” area for series creator Danny Fenton. If he couldn’t cast the eligible bachelor, he would use his lookalike. Talk about a ballsy move.
And that’s basically the premise of I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’, in which 12 bombshells vie for his affections. What they don’t know is that they are being duped by Matthew Hicks, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the prince.
Explaining how he came to be involved with this series, Hicks says: “I was approached via a lookalike website on which I had a profile. The pictures had been put up as a joke a few months prior to receiving an e-mail from the production company.”
That’s not to say he hasn’t already done a few “Harry” jobs.
Harry’s doppelganger shares: “They (the jobs) involved me turning up at the VIP sections of nightclubs for promotional events, earning me pocket money.”
How does the show work?
Hicks offers: “There are 12 ladies. In each episode, one of them is given the key to the crown suite. This means she is the focus of the episode and we have an individual date. There are also various group dates/ activities organised in some episodes.”
To play the part, “Harry” received a crash-course on horse-back riding, fencing and ballroom dancing. And he studied Prince Harry and dyed his natural blond hair, too.
Unlike fans of the royal family, Hicks’s knowledge stemmed from fleeting bits of social nattering rather than concerted research.
He reveals: “I was given a portfolio of information on everything royal to learn a week prior to meeting the ladies. Horse riding, polo, shooting and dancing were skills that were included.
“I don’t really have a strong opinion on the royals either way,” he points out. “Having seen press about the princes on royal duties, they appear to be fun, enthusiastic, hard- working, caring people.
“I think most of the public feel they can relate to the princes. They are very likeable and charming. In terms of obsession, I don’t really get it. I suppose they are role models and people we can look up to.”
Back in real life, Hicks is an amiable guy who surrounds himself with friends and family.
He works for an environmental consultancy firm (but plans to quit soon to go on a backpacking trip with a mate) and enjoys sport: playing cricket in summer and hockey in winter. And he admits to having “itchy feet” and yearning to travel.
He shares: “The thought of finding new places and meeting new people excites me more than anything.”
Revisiting his highlights from the series, he admits: “Some of the dates we went on were phenomenal. But I think the (ultimate) highlights for me were the relationships behind the scenes. The house staff were fantastic and we had such a laugh ‘downstairs’ with the butlers and chefs. Kingsley (Paul Leonard) was brilliant throughout and was my confidant, helping to keep me sane, and at the same time providing endless humour.”
What would he do if he bumped into Prince Harry?
He laughs: “Hopefully, he would see the funny side (of the show) and I would ask him which girl he would have chosen.”
This show will garner polarised views, but Hicks hopes “it is taken in the light heart it was meant to be”.
• I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’ airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Mondays at 6.30pm.