Spoiler warning: This contains details of the most recent episode of Hunted
For the crack team of ex-detectives and intelligence analysts at the heart of reality TV show Hunted, Nick Bachelor looked like he could be their greatest challenge yet.
A long-reformed criminal with 41 spent convictions, the 51-year old – now a youth worker in Maidstone – told viewers he had a bit of experience in evading the authorities in his earlier life, so might be the ideal man to give the hunters the runaround.
Born and raised in what he calls a “pub environment” in Peckham, south London, Nick started meddling with drugs at the age of 14 and by the time he was an adult, he was addicted to heroin and crack cocaine.
It wasn’t long before his crippling addiction saw him turn to theft and fraud to feed his habits – and led to his long string of convictions.
But it is now 11 years since his last conviction, his past is firmly in the past, and Nick says that appearing on the show was an opportunity for him to show how much he has changed his life around for the good.
However, not all viewers were happy with Channel 4 giving someone with past convictions the opportunity to appear on TV and win a share of the £100,000 prize.
After his first appearance on the show, when he was seen teaming up with his friend and drug addiction sponsor Paul James to begin a potential 25 days on the run together, some people took to social media to criticise Channel 4.
Although these comments upset Nick, he said he understands why people may think this, and wants to change their opinion.
Nick says: “I keep getting referred to as an ex-convict and I am not, I’m a youth worker with a criminal record.
“I haven’t offended since 2008 and I wanted to show that I live an honest life now. I won’t even get on the train without a ticket any more.
“I just can’t get involved in any crime, at all. It’s like saying you are a little bit pregnant, it doesn’t make sense – you’re either honest or you’re not.” says Nick.
Nick believes that getting arrested just days after his son was born was the best thing that ever happened to him.
“I was convinced I would die in some B&B somewhere if I carried on and before this point I was all right with that – and that’s sad.
“I got arrested for fraud and I found myself in prison yet again, apologising yet again and making promises I couldn’t keep – yet again.
“Even though I wholeheartedly wanted to keep these promises, I had no power to.”
Nick says he found detoxing in prison extremely difficult and at one point he became violently ill, was coughing up blood and couldn’t sleep for 11 weeks.
But he admits that he needed this experience to truly recognise what how bad his life had become.
Since leaving jail, he has obtained a level 5 foundation degree in youth justice and says he now considers his past an asset. He spends his days trying to make amends for the crimes he committed, helping people with active addictions and troubled backgrounds.
Referring to his crimes, he says: “I regret every single one of them, even though people call them victimless crimes – there’s always a victim somewhere along the lines no matter what it is.
“Me and Paul thought, if one person is sitting out there going through the same sort of thing and could find inspiration from us – that’s more than enough reason for going on the show.”
Hunted: Going on the run on TV
- A reality challenge in which 10 ordinary people go on the run – and can hide out anywhere in the UK
- For 25 days they will must evade the clutches of an elite team of former military and intelligence operatives to have a chance of winning a share of £100,000
- The hunters use surveillance techniques that replicate those available to real-life detectives. In a nutshell, it means fugitives must be careful not to be spotted on CCTV images or make phone calls that could be monitored
- This is the fouth series of Hunted. There have also been two series of Celebrity Hunted, with The Wanted singers Jay McGuiness and Siva Kaneswaran winning in 2017, and Strictly dancer AJ Pritchard and MP Johnny Mercer in 2018.
- All fugitives receive £50 in cash and a card with access to £50 at the start of the run.
So how did the man who had plenty of real-life experience to draw upon cope with the challenge of being a fugitive on Hunted?
Well, as viewers of Thursday’s night’s episode saw, he and Paul’s joint bid for the cash prize came to an early end when they failed to evade the team of hunters.
The pair were the first of this year’s batch of contestants to be captured after the hunters realised their strategy was to use a network of people whom they knew through recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
When the hunters discovered this, it was easy to find these friends on social media, and intercept the phone calls Nick and Paul were making to them for assistance.
Nick blames this new technology for the reason he and Paul were captured, saying: “I think Channel 4 thought because I’ve been on the run before I would have certain skills, but a lot’s changed since I was a criminal.”
“It was really difficult trying to escape with new modern technology, but I am proud that our police forces have some of the best equipment to catch criminals, because if you’re a criminal today – you’re in trouble!”
Now back at home watching how the rest of the series pans out, he says: “We went wrong by using the phone and not relying more on members of the public. We had so many people helping us, we overloaded them [the hunters] with information.
“People say the show’s fixed, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If it was, it would have been a lot easier.”
The series continues on Channel 4 at 21:00 GMT each Thursday.