Real-life ‘fugitives’ run from police for TV show

A TEAM of crack investigators are hunting a fugitive believed to be holed up in a Highland bothy – but not for a crime, just a TV show.

A new TV show will see 15 fugitives running away from former law enforcement professionals. Picture: John Devlin

Former detectives including ex-Scotland Yard sleuth Peter Bleksley are on the trail of a Kent GP trying to evade capture in the Channel 4 series, whose working title is The Search.

The doctor, known as Ricky, is one of 15 people attempting to escape the clutches of their pursuers over a month.

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Wanted-style posters for Ricky, 55, and the other fugitives have been issued, with £250 rewards being offered for information that leads to them being traced.

'We are working tirelessly. Ricky is a tricky customer,' said former detective Peter Bleksley

However, programme producers Shine TV – makers of The Island with Bear Grylls – described it as a “social experiment” rather than a game show, with no prize for the winner.

“It’s like a real-life 39 Steps,” they said. Mr Bleksley said Ricky was believed to be near Fort William, where he has family and friends, hiding in mountain bothies.

The investigators, who also include ex-CIA and special forces personnel, were given only the name, address, age and a photograph of those taking part in the show, which is due to be screened in September. The 15 fugitives left their homes in England and Wales two weeks ago, with Ricky one of the few travelling alone.

Mr Bleksley, who retired from the Metropolitan Police in 1999, declined to say how he was tracking Ricky – as he might read this newspaper report.

However, Ricky and his counterparts can be tracked every time they make cash withdrawals from money to keep them which has deposited in a special bank account.

Mr Bleksley said Ricky had withdrawn money in Fort William, but that was “not the sole breakthrough” in tracing him to the area.

He said: “We suspect quite strongly that Ricky has been staying in bothies, which tend to be in quite remote areas. We are very determined to capture him and are working tirelessly.

“However, Ricky is proving a tricky customer, which has hardened our resolve to find him.

“He has the advantage that he is in an area with which he is very familiar.”

The posters state: “Ricky is taking part in a television series – he is not missing and has not committed a crime.

“Please do not attempt to approach or apprehend him.”

However, Mr Bleksley, who has until 31 May to catch his prey, said: “The posters are so clearly worded, they would not cause anyone any alarm.”