Murphy native, wife join fugitive reality show
Greensboro – A Murphy native and his wife recently went on the lam, running from government agents and hoping not to be captured.
But they were not desperately checking around every corner because they were criminals, but rather they participated in a new reality show airing on CBS.
“The Hunted” debuted Sunday night after the AFC Championship game and features 18 people who agreed to simulate a fugitive experience where they try to evade investigators as part of a real-life adventure game.
Stephen King, a Cherokee County native and 1997 graduate of Murphy High School, ended up on the show along with his wife English. An internet description of the show calls it “the most elaborate game of hide and go seek” ever devised.
The Kings were hoping to get on another show, “The Amazing Race,” but they got a call back and were pitched this show instead, where the nine teams of two try to avoid capture in a 100,000-square mile radius. Any team who accomplishes it for 28 days earns $250,000.
“‘Hunted’ was created in the United Kingdom to answer the question ‘Can anybody truly go off the grid anymore in a modern society filled with security cameras and has a cultural dependence on a cell phone, social media, and the internet?’” said Laura Fuest Silva, an executive producer on the show’s web site.
The Kings were not sure at first, but decided they were up for the challenge.
“At first I was not sure we could do this,” Stephen said. “Our family was telling us not to do it, but the more we looked it over, the more we wanted the challenge.”
The Kings have three daughters, and one of the main reasons they did it was to make it a teaching moment.
“We wanted to show our girls that even though things can get scary sometimes, there are a lot of good people and things in this world,” Stephen said. “We wanted them to see Mom and Dad out of their comfort zone and how they dealt with the situation.”
The teams are given limited funds and as much access to their computers and cell phones as they wish, but any usage of those devices dramatically increases the chances of being caught.
“They gave us an hour head start before they distributed our pictures and information to the investigators,” Stephen said.
Since the show has just begun airing, the Kings cannot share any details of how their adventure went. But they said the experience was a memorable one.
“A lot of people asked us ‘How real did it feel?’ Well, everything was our choices,” Stephen said. “Nobody told us where to go or what to do. You get stressed, overwhelmed, mentally beaten down. We were looking over our shoulders and it was tough in the moment, but I learned a lot about myself and my wife. She showed she was a leader through the things we were doing.”
Stephen said he and English hoped everyone watching would get out of it what they felt like they were projecting.
“We showed that we can stick together through anything and I hope that comes through in the show,” he said.
Two other Cherokee County residents have been on reality shows in the last year. Joe Del Campo, part-time resident of Hiwassee Dam, was a contestant on “Survivor,” and Jim Murray of Hanging Dog was on “The Island with Bear Grylls.”
The Kings were not included in Sunday night’s special post-football premiere of the show.
“The Hunted” will air at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, with a two-hour special and will continue on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. for one hour in following weeks.