The second series of Channel 4’s groundbreaking hit reality show, The Circle, came to a dramatic conclusion on October 18, which as of writing, was yesterday. After three weeks of pure entertainment, it all came to a head as all the secrets were out in the open…
All the way back on September 24, the series kicked off with eight new players and a new presenter, television veteran Emma Willis, the first of many changes from last year’s run.
Of this initial batch, four were completely honest about their pictures and personality: Brooke (24), Tim (58), Sy (35) and Georgina (21). Fellow players Emelle (31) and Woody (18) used their own image but hid major secrets from the group — the former was a lesbian playing straight while the latter was in fact the son of famous parents – Norman ‘Fatboy Slim’ Cook and Zoe Ball.
Among the group, however, were a sneaky pair of Catfishes – James (26), the son of a single mother taking on this persona for himself while Katie (43) played as her mid-twenties son, Jay, believing him to be a more popular person than herself.
It would be very easy to compare the new contestants to last year’s, trying to find the ‘new Alex’ or ‘new Freddie’. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that each player was their own unique person who brought something different to the game.
Primary Catfish James (who had more power by being an Influencer) was an interesting counterpoint to Alex/Kate in their different approaches to pulling the deceit off. While Alex knew the person in the pictures for his fake personality, James had never met the girl representing ‘Sammie’ and was relying, at least at the beginning, on information given by female family members. He was definitely the most divisive and controversial aspect of the show – whether it was his choice of character, or his formation of the #ruthless COT that removed a beloved player in Ella.
Of all the players to take part in this series, Woody is definitely the most optimistic with a positive outlook on life. A genuinely nice bloke who forged close bonds with many of his fellow players, much to others’ chagrin later in the game. He remained true to himself throughout and this worked in his favour.
I did not know what to make of Tim when the contestants were revealed. There had been a faux older gentleman — Christopher (aka his granddaughter Sinead) who had not lasted very long during the previous series. However, Tim’s articulate, well-mannered and eccentric personality served him well and he very quickly became a figure of great importance, wisdom, power and influence (pun intended) within The Circle.
Georgina‘s story was obviously very emotional from the outset, as she was very open about suffering from Crohn’s disease. By virtue of staying in the game for a considerable amount of time, Georgina is featured very heavily throughout the show. She made powerful allies in Brooke, Tim and even Richard Madeley, who granted her immunity.
Near the end of the series, Georgina became one-third of the infamous COT (Circle of Trust) which successfully saw her through to the finale. This did initially divide my opinion of her though seeing how genuinely upset Georgina was when having to block Ella, her friend, won me back and I was happy to see her as one of the final two in contention for the money.
Whether she meant to or not, Katie brought much of the humour in the early episodes of The Circle. Her sheer ineptitude in Catfishing as her son (sorry and no offence if you’re reading this) was hilarious to watch though for the most part she was very consistent in making people believe she was Jay.
I liked Brooke, her relationship with Tim and Georgina and what she brought to The Circle. While I understand how she and Georgina felt towards Tim after Brooke’s blocking, I can also rationalise and justify why Brooke was their choice. At least from my perspective, it’s a dog eat dog world in The Circle and by removing Brooke, one of the more prominent players (Georgina) had lost a great ally.
Sadly, as this is a game show after all, Emelle and Sy were the first two people to be Blocked. However, unlike last series, we still got to see them on Friday’s live episodes, on which they effectively became reoccurring panellists. Both had interesting techniques in their gameplan and seemed like genuine people so it was a shame they left so early on. Luckily, we strangely learned more about the pair post-Blocking rather than when they were still competing.
Although The Circle is a game and very much not representing real life, one similarity between the two is the fast pace and ruthlessness. Of course the initial eight plus a ninth (surprise contestant Richard Madeley, playing as ‘Judy’, in a hilarious week-long appearance) were not the only fixtures on the show. As we progressed, more and more new people joined the game.
Let’s meet them…
Ella (24) was voted in over another possible player. Her bubbly personality led to her quickly developing strong friendships in the group, especially with Woody, Tim and Georgina. Ella was both one of my favourites and a fan favourite throughout the series.
Due to her late arrival, it was hard to predict what she would ultimately bring to the group, but her deep and somewhat familial relationship with Tim and Woody was very sentimental for the viewers.
Jack (29) and Beth (29) were individually introduced although they were brought in as the two new players. After three episodes, they were both eliminated in a double Blocking though were given the opportunity to join forces and continue in the game as ‘Joyce’, a 62-year-old woman.
While we only really scratched the surface with the pair as themselves (Beth did use someone else’s pictures), they were very entertaining as Joyce. Due to being much younger than their character’s age, there was certain information and references that they did not understand which Joyce, if she were real, definitely would have.
Dublin-born Paddy (31) was brought in next, playing as himself through not initially disclosing that he has Cerebal Palsy. Upon finally revealing to this fact to the rest of the players, this became one of the most emotional moments of the series.
Busayo (24) came in as a Catfish, playing Josh, a middle-class white man, believing that would help her get further in the game. Meanwhile, Italian model Andrea (28) and Kent local Jan (58) were brought in as anonymous competitors (‘Eggs’) from which the existing players had to choose who to join their ranks — Jan was the victor in this instance.
Eventually, many fell by the wayside until only five finalists remained — Georgina, Woody, Tim, Paddy and James, also known as Sammie.
Two prizes were up for grabs – while the total fund was £100,000, it turned out that £70,000 of this would be awarded to the winner of the players’ final ratings while the remaining £30,000 would go to the player voted for by the public – Viewers’ Champion.
Former monk Tim scooped the £30,000 viewer voted-prize while the overall winner was Paddy, making him the first of many achievements in The Circle – first winner to play as themselves, first non-English winner, first Irish player, first latecomer to win and so on.
Congratulations to both Paddy and Tim. Here’s hoping The Circle returns for another series in September 2020!