Hunted viewers were left outraged when an early fan favourite was ‘grassed in’ by men whom she had stopped to ask for help as the hit Channel 4 show returned last night.
Bank worker Loren Hannon, 26, of Essex, joined ‘fugitives’ including a Royal Marine and an ex-con who went on the run from a Liverpool starting point – kicking off a four-week game of cat-and-mouse that will see them try and evade a team of highly-trained ‘hunters’ in the hope of taking home a £100,000 prize.
Loren, who described herself as ‘not well-travelled’, made her way to Fort William, where she sought help from workers at the local Ben Nevis Distillery.
But moments after one man gave Loren directions – and vowed not to ‘grass her in’ – his colleague phoned the ‘hunters’ hotline, offering up details of her whereabouts in exchange for a cash reward.
The move shocked viewers, with one tweeting: ‘F*****g grasses on hunted p**s me right off !!! What people do for a few hundred quid! #hunted.’
Another posted: ‘The distillery guy was awful he said: “I’m not horrible, I’m not going to grass you up”. And then he did.’
Others joked they would boycott the company over the move. ‘That’s it, I’m not buying any whisky from the Ben Nevis Distillery in the future,’ one wrote on Twitter.
However Loren was able to still escape the reach of the hunters, hitching a ride with a young woman and crossing paths with her pursuers on the road out of the Scottish town.
She also revealed there were no hard feelings, tweeting during last night’s episode: ‘@BenNevisDist You all made me feel very welcome and were very kind – Thank you! No bad feelings #hunted #bestwhisky @Hunted_HQ.’
The bank worker won over fans of the show with her enthusiasm and straight-talking nature. At one point she seemed hesitant over what sheep looked like.
‘I’ve pretty much winged it for the whole of my life, so I hope it will still work for this,’ she said of her strategy for the show.
‘I’m not well travelled, I have never, ever stayed round anyone else’s house. Ever. But now I’m going halfway across the country, on my own, without a flipping car even.’
The 26-year-old also revealed she was hoping to win the show so she could use money to pay for treatment for her mother, who suffers from agoraphobia.
‘I hate leaving her, I feel really guilty because I know she doesn’t really have anyone else,’ she said, becoming tearful.
‘If I won the money, I’d really like to pay for the treatment she needs to help her just have some kind of quality of life.’
Viewers were quick to throw their weight behind her. ‘I am gripped already!,’ one tweeted. ‘Rooting for Loren. Roll on next week’s episode.’
Another added: ‘Loved the opening episode #Hunted really hoping Loren goes all the way.’
Others hoping to make it to the end of the show include Royal Marine Matt Mason, 29, of Devon, and Nick Batchelor, 51, of Kent, who turned his life around after a string of criminal convictions.
Mason, a new father, spoke of wanting to put his years of Armed Forces training into practise and appeared to fare well early on – changing his outfit and slipping into rural countryside within hours of starting the show.
Meanwhile Batchelor, who is competing with his friend Paul James, 48, a construction worker, impressed viewers when they learned he was working as a youth worker after overcoming his own difficult path.
Both James and Batchelor are recovering addicts and are using their support network of fellow former addicts to criss-cross the country.
Also competing are friends Nathaniel Watt, 26, an architecture student, and Ismail Haruna, 27, an architectural technologist, both of Nottingham; brothers Harry, 20, and Frank, 23, Savage, of Essex and East Sussex; and nurses Emma Davidson, 23, and Jess Kirkham, 27, of Devon.