Concerns raised by a participant in a forthcoming series of Channel 4's reality TV programme Four in a Bed highlights the risks to operators who may be considering opening their doors to television cameras.
Adam Saleem, owner of the six-bedroom Halebarns House in Halebarns, Greater Manchester, told The Caterer that he suffered from stress and anxiety following an extensive day of filming on a new series of the programme, and had to be admitted to hospital.
Haleburns House was one of the four businesses to take part in the programme, alongside Hotel Commodore, Llandrindod Wells, Powys; Ardingly Inn, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex; and Ware Hall-House, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. The participants take it in turn to stay in each other's properties and pay what they consider to be a fair rate for their stay.
Saleem said that he had agreed to take part in the programme, following much persuasion by the production company Studio Lambert, after being told that its broadcast would create "lots of publicity" for Halebarns House.
However, he claimed that Studio Lambert created an environment that created tension between the contestants and "behave in ways we wouldn't normally behave".
He explained: "The experience left me feeling very insecure and has totally mispresented me and my business. The final result of the programme was staged and untruthful."
Although Saleem signed a contract to take part in the programme, he said that he had not read the small print. He said he had voiced his concerns to the production company, but he is not satisfied with the response he has received.
A spokesperson for Studio Lambert said: "We are happy that our production team have acted professionally and responsibly throughout the production process. We refute all of Adam's defamatory allegations and have encouraged him to speak to us directly if he has any concerns."
Meanwhile, Chris Emmins, the founder of Kwikchex, the online company which helps businesses protect their reputation, said that any business that is considering taking part in a reality television programme, such as Four in a Bed, should consider two things.
"The first is that virtually every episode has some form of conflict between the competing business owners," he explained. "It is so consistent in this type of programme that it would also be fair to ask whether the profiling of participants is deliberately calculated to increase the chances of conflict. This means that there is, even with the programme content itself, a reputation risk to participants and I would say that business owners should consider this as part of a risk evaluation process prior to agreeing to appear on the programme.
Emmins said if he was ever going to consider participating in a fly-in-the-wall documentary, he would have his own cameras recording to ensure fair play.
"Even then I suspect that the profiling methodology will still cause the type of strife that seems to be what programme makers are looking for."
Previous participants on Four in a Bed sought legal advice after receiving abuse, including the posting of fake reviews on TripAdvisor, following the screening of the programme.
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