Hunted: critics 'obsessed' with new reality chase show

Real-life thriller in which fugitives flee surveillance team gets some reviewers breathless, but are there better things on YouTube?

(Image credit: Channel 4)

Channel 4's new reality show, Hunted, in which ordinary people have to evade capture by a professional surveillance team, might be a game, but it's a "real thriller" say reviewers.

In the show fourteen "ordinary members of the public" are challenged to disappear for 28 days while avoiding a group of 30 investigators including former intelligence operatives, counterterrorism officers, analysts, psychological profilers and cyber security experts.

Many critics are gripped.

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In the Daily Telegraph Gerard O'Donovan writes: "Just when you think reality television has nothing left to offer, along comes Hunted to make you think again."

O'Donovan says the show is "surprisingly intense" and will have you "chewing your fingernails to the quick" while "goggling at the degree to which our behaviour can be monitored and predicted by hidden surveillance systems and the state".

Most disturbing of all, O'Donovan notes, is that "despite determined efforts to behave in pattern-free ways, the odds were so obviously stacked against the fugitives."

Sam Wollaston in The Guardian agrees. "It's not often that something genuinely original comes to the screen," but this is a rare example, he says.

Yes, it's a game, admits Wollaston, but it's also a social experiment about people and how they behave under pressure, as well as a good old-fashioned thriller. It also asks "loads of questions about the balance between security and freedom, and Surveillance Britain".

Catriona Wrightman on Digital Spy is "obsessed" with this "real-life thriller". Wrightman says high-concept shows like this can tend to fall a little flat, but this one exceeds expectations.

Hunted was instantly fascinating, she says, adding that it "was so tense and compelling that we're not sure we breathed out for the entire hour".

Sean O'Grady of The Independent was one of the show's few critics. At first it seems like a weak piece of drama filmed as reality TV, says O'Grady, "a sort of cross between the Bourne Ultimatum and 28 Days Later". But it is in fact "a weak piece of reality TV filmed as drama".

Whatever it was, it was mostly pointless, he says, and "not half as entertaining as the CCTV clips that you can gorge yourself on on YouTube".

Hunted airs on Thursdays at 9pm on Channel 4.

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