If there's one thing Channel 4 have perfected, it's creating quality documentaries that follow the realities that the emergency services face. From 24 Hours in A&E and Police Custody to 999: On The Frontline, the broadcaster certainly knows how to come up with a great formula and run with it. And that's exactly what they're doing with Famous and Fighting Crime, which sees five celebrities train with Cambridgeshire's Constabulary to experience what officers face on the frontline. But is Famous and Fighting Crime real, and are the celebs actually facing the brutal realities of policing?
The answer is a resounding yes, and boy have these celebs been put through their paces. Jamie Laing (Made in Chelsea), TV presenter Katie Piper, Sandi Bogle (Gogglebox), Penny Lancaster (Loose Women), and comedian Marcus Brigstocke have all been taken under Cambridge Constabulary's wing and trained to become part of their Specials unit, according to the Constabulary's website. The Specials unit is a group of volunteers "who have all the powers of a warranted police officer," and often work "around their own careers and personal lives" to keep the British public safe.
As Katie Piper explained in an interview with This Morning on Wednesday (Feb. 13), "The training was actually worse than any of the police work that we undertook. Which I think was good because you were trained for all eventualities."
The TV presenter continued:
"What they go through, the abuse they take on... and the Specials don't get paid. They do a normal job in the daytime, and they go for work for 3pm and it's quite traumatic, it's quite aggressive and violent, and it's always unknown."
Piper also described how the celebs were present on a variety of different calls — some planned, some not. This was alarmingly demonstrated in the first episode, where an unarmed Penny Lancaster was threatened with a syringe by a person who was suspected of shoplifting, as the Mail Online reports. Luckily, Lancaster walked away unharmed, but she was obviously shaken by what had happened.
But what happened to these celebs on the show is a daily occurrence for the British police force, which is what executive the producer of Blast! Films, Edmund Coulthard, wanted to highlight in the series. "As police budgets go down, and the pressures on police forces go up, our celebrities are joining the thousands of volunteers risking everything on the frontline of policing today," he explained in a Channel 4 press release. "It's certain to be a life changing experience — no one can predict the criminals or crimes they'll encounter."
Cambridgeshire Constabulary's Assistant Chief Constable Dan Vajzovic added:
"This is a great opportunity to showcase the valuable work of the Special Constabulary and gives viewers a chance to see some of the excellent work our officers do day in day out, but which often remains hidden. The series promises to be entertaining and impactful, offering the viewer a unique view of the role volunteers play in policing their own communities, and I hope it will inspire many others to volunteer for their police force."
Famous and Fighting Crime airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. You can catch up with the series on All 4.