Voiceover: Michael Kitchen
Voiceover ("The E4 Specials", 3 episodes): Les Keen
RDF Television for Channel 4, 18 September 2000 to 26 December 2006
Supposedly a Pygmalion for the Noughties, expert trainers are given one month to turn a willing volunteer into a skilled 'professional' with almost the opposite characteristics - e.g. pub landlord into a ballet dancer.
Although not a game show in its traditional sense, there was a test at the end of each episode where the newly-trained victim had to perform alongside three others who had been in the same career for a number of years. The judges had to see if they could spot who was 'faking it'. There was a bluffing element also, because all the 'suspects' were grilled by the panel of judges about aspects of their new profession. For example, in an episode where the subject had to become a racing driver, they might be asked questions about their career or the workings of a car.
It was a cult hit for Channel 4, with several episodes achieving water-cooler status. However, it's arguable that its six-year tenure was beginning to make the viewing public rather bored by the end of it.
There was absolutely no prize on offer other than maybe a glass of champers or three at the end.
A number of participants have been able to make a real go of their new chosen careers, including:
- Kevin McMahon, who appeared on the penultimate show in Easter 2005, turned from a physician into a magician. He has appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe with shows such as "Tricks I Have Learned Since Being on Telly".
- Burger-van proprietor Ed Devlin became a professional chef.
- Dominic Littlewood, now a stalwart of BBC daytime telly, was also discovered on the show - not as a faker, but as one of the mentors.
Other notable episodes concerned cellist Sian Evans learning to be a club DJ, and naval petty officer Spencer Bowdler becoming a drag artist (under the name "Britney Ferry").
Sometimes you'd get quite well-known people doing the training. The likes of hairdresser Trevor Sorbie, chef Gordon Ramsay and sailing legends Chay Blyth and Ellen MacArthur were all mentors.
A 2002 episode in which punk singer Chris Sweeney learnt how to conduct an orchestra won the Rose d'Or in 2003.
A couple of follow-up programmes were also aired, under the title Faking It Changed My Life.
A planned celebrity episode eventually turned into a standalone programme called When Blue Peter Became Abba, with ex-Blue Peter hosts substituting for Bjorn Again. Zoe Ball presented the show.