The Secret Millionaire

I’d heard about the Channel 4 series The Secret Millionaire but not seen it, until tonight. Normally Wednesday is a campaign evening, but seeing as it’s so close to Christmas we knocked off early (though not before recruiting another deliverer – a result!).

Back home early, I watched ‘Secret Millionaire’ Margaret Heffernan, under cover in St Ann’s, Nottingham. The premise of the programme is that a millionaire goes anonymously into a poor community to live there for a few days and find a person or project to transform with a gift of their money. Funders – whether individual or institutional – inevitably bring their own agenda to their funding. So the programme tells you as much about Margaret as it does about the people she helps. Margaret is a woman entrepreneur who supports other women in business through her publications and mentoring; so it’s unsurprising that she warmed to women running voluntary groups; and her unsentimental, unpatronising approach endeared her to them too.

With all reality TV you’re seeing the world through the editor’s eyes. Tony, the van driver who had fathered 12 kids (‘on the record’), but was still living with his own Mum was shown telling Margaret gravely “women can’t do it all on their own” while his sister served dinner. Joy, who runs a carnival group for local kids, teasing Margaret about concealing her wealth – “I always tell my kids not to lie, that’s how you get to be a millionaire by lying.” Tony talking about his old van: “No power steering, no radio”. Tony’s mate: “No headlights.” The community laundry had a big messy job washing paintballing kit. Instead of pointing up the contrast in lifestyles, this programme pointed out that the paintball contract that keeps the laundry afloat.

Margaret Heffernan did the programme in part to show that business skills are a force for good, and how anyone can contribute through volunteering; you don’t have to be a millionaire to make a contribution.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to be rich either. Channel 4 has a handy ‘richometer‘ where you can plot your income against the rest of the UK and the rest of the world. On £30k a year, you’re in the top 10% of the UK and the top 1% of the world.

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1 Comment »

  1. karl said

    hello ny name is karl hilton am 13 am am a vol from a youth club name [ st leonard’s ]in liverpool [bootle] and we need fundeding or we will be all on the street corners. and all the anti-social behaviour will all come back .

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