Never has so much money been squandered so pointlessly as on the show Loaded in Paradise.
As the sun rises over Athens, five pairs of Brits descend on the town in the hopes of being the ones to grab a golden credit card and spend their way across the country.
The basic premise of ITVX’s new four-part reality TV show is perplexing, but it goes something like this: one of these five pairs has the golden card, which gives them licence to spend as much as they want (to a point; there’s a total budget of £50,000). The other four will try to hunt them down to obtain the card (and thus the money) for themselves.
Every time the card is used, the chasers will get a ping of its location, resulting in what is essentially a massive manhunt played out across several Greek islands and its capital city, Athens.
You can see the thought processes behind how this show was greenlit. Audiences lap up Love Island; surely a similar exotic location would pull in the punters. They also love to hate people; well, this is hate-watching distilled down to its purest essence. Unfortunately, there’s also nothing enjoyable about it.
The competitors are sisters Karra and Jasmine; friends Ieuan and Kane (Ieuan, as he puts it, “deals with Karens all day in a holiday park”); friends Kara and Kishon; the platinum-locked Millie and Amelia and finally Jamie and Guy, who have strong public-school vibes. These are people who, as the voiceover tells us, “don’t know the difference between Zeus and mousse.” And you wonder why Brits have such a bad reputation as tourists.
As it turns out, Jamie and Guy are the first to get their hands on the gold card and declare that they are set up to live “like millionaires”. Not quite – they’re some £950,000 short – but they revel in the windfall by immediately buying pints at a seedy local bar. “They don’t deserve it!” a fuming Ieuan says.
His little outburst is one of many, proving that whenever money’s involved things get nasty. “I hope you choke,” Millie tells Jamie and Guy, while Kara declares that her blood is “boiling” at the sight of them. “I’m just so upset that I’ve got all these gorgeous outfits and they’re going to be wasted,” Amelia adds.
Nobody comes out of this well. Jamie and Guy are smug and arrogant; Millie and Amelia seemingly obsessed with not having boyfriends and not wanting to live a “basic life” (whatever that is) and Kara and Kishon squabble like no-one’s business. The end result is a painful watch, especially when the time comes for the card to change hands.
So is this even watchable television? Not really. Turns out, one thing that you might not want to do in a cost-of-living crisis is watch people you don’t like think of the best ways to blow thousands in one go on something as trivial as a steak lunch or a designer wardrobe. And watching the unlucky sods without the card get awful blisters and run around from one place to another like headless chickens did make me wonder if this was actually some special kind of Sisyphean torture.
This isn’t entertainment: it’s a crass and poorly-judged show that plays less like reality TV and more like a middle finger to all the families struggling to pay their heating bills this year. Next year, skip the gold card: perhaps give the £50,000 to charity instead.
Loaded in Paradise will stream on ITVX from December 29