With Britain (and the world) on Royal Wedding watch as speculation intensifies that Prince Harry may be close to proposing to long-time girlfriend Cressida Bonas, a group of U.S. women get one last chance to win the Prince’s heart before he goes off the market. Not really. I’ve learned that Fox is moving forward with its hush-hush reality series I Wanna Marry “Harry”, in which 12 single American girls were whisked away to the palatial Englefield House in Berkshire and spent weeks trying to impress a royal-looking redhead young Brit they were led to believe was Prince Harry. Instead, it was Prince Harry lookalike Matthew Hicks, an average English “bloke” given a royal makeover, trying to convincingly act the part so the women don’t find out who he really is. The project, from Ryan Seacrest Prods. and ZigZag Prods., was greenlighted in August under the title Dream Date, with details about the premise kept largely under wraps for obvious reasons. Now it is gearing up, eying a summer launch.
I Wanna Marry “Harry” is in the vein of Fox’s similar “hoax” dating reality series Joe Millionaire, in which single women competed for the heart of a good-looking guy they thought was super rich. Instead, he was an average Joe. The 2003 show, a take on ABC’s The Bachelor, became a pop culture phenomenon, drawing 34.6 million viewers for its finale. It was the brainchild of former Fox head of alternative Mike Darnell who also originally brought in and ordered I Wanna Marry “Harry” before leaving the network in May. The project was then shepherded by his successor, Simon Andreae, who is British-born.