Channel 4’s social media reality show The Circle has crowned its first ever winner: Kate – who is actually a man named Alex.
Alex, who catfished his fellow contestants by using his girlfriend’s pictures and pretending to be a woman, went home with £75,000 on Monday night after winning both the main prize of £50,000 and the Viewer’s Champion vote, worth £25,000, in the live final.
Alex beat runners up Freddie, Sian and Dan, after three weeks of taking on the persona of Kate, using a little black book with instructions from his girlfriend Millie on what to say in conversations about make up and hair.
Fellow contestant Dan was furious on discovering Kate’s true identity, after having chatted to “her” – and often flirted with her – every day for weeks.
They eventually met in person in the live final. In riveting scenes, Dan waited for ‘Kate’ at a dining table at the beginning of the show, and was completely baffled when Alex walked in. In shock because he had been expecting a woman, he simply said: “What the f***…. Freddie?”
When Alex then revealed he was in fact Kate, Dan flipped his lid, exclaiming: “What?!”
Alex immediately started apologising. “I’m so sorry, bruv! I’m so sorry! Let me shake your hand anyway.”
But Dan had no interest in shaking his hand, telling him: “Don’t shake my hand. Mate I’m pissed off! I can’t even look at your face! I swear to God, I’m livid! Do you know what I’m thinking now? I can’t believe I literally sent home and blocked other people over you. Pissed. I’m fuming.”
Desperately trying to fix the situation, Alex began: “I know you’re fuming, mate, and the only thing I can say to you is…”
But he couldn’t finish his sentence as Dan interrupted with: “Don’t mate me, we’re not friends… The overriding emotional feeling I’m feeling right now is probably embarrassment. I’m very, very embarrassed. I feel like I’ve been taken for a fool. I’ve been mugged off. I feel like my journey has been so different to everyone else’s here.”
Viewers could not cope with Dan’s reaction – and many people’s hearts went out to him as he felt he had developed a real bond with Kate, only to discover he had been talking to her boyfriend the whole time.
Alex revealed why he decided to catfish everyone, telling Dan: “I came in here to develop the only character I think could be the most popular character in here from scratch. I’m a social media comedian. I’ve had to face the trolls, the negativity, the bullies. The catfishes… I’ve faced it.
“I want to raise awareness that social media is fake, everything about it is fake. You’ve got to understand what I was going through as well, I never knew you were real. I know you are now, but I didn’t know at the time when we were engaging with each other and speaking…”
Alex and his girlfriend Millie were reunited during the live final, too. (Dan, cover your eyes!)
Asked about Alex using her photos to pose as Kate, Millie said: “I got used to it, it’s a static image, he was himself, he has a heart of gold and that showed.”
Voicing her empathy for Dan, however, she added: “I wanted [Alex] to drop it, I love Dan, he’s a lovely person.”
Maybe everyone can be friends after all.