Last nights long-awaited fifth series of Faking It got off to a fabulous start when a Manchester bike courier (pictured) successfully convinced judges that he was a born and bred polo player.
Malcolm Woodcock (Woody) spent 28 days at Prince Charles local polo club, the Beaufort Polo Club in Gloucestershire, training to be a professional polo player and honing his manners to fit the part.
Woodys first visit to a polo match highlighted the difficulty his coaches were facing. He could not have looked any more conspicuous in his Goth uniform against the background of the pastel-clad polo crowd.
Caspar West and Claire Tomlinson, both coaches at the club, were given the task of developing Woodys riding skills. It was an uphill struggle, and after the first 10 days, a concerned Caspar said: The distance between him and his completed task — its here to the moon!
It was not until the first game Woody played, when he was blamed almost entirely for the teams defeat, that he seemed to pull his finger out and during the last week, his efforts finally paid off.
Claire Tomlinson told HHO that she realised pretty quickly that since there are quite a lot of bad riders out there, if we concentrated on balance, there was a chance that we might be able to pass it off.
Not surprisingly, given the timescale of the task, a huge amount of emphasis was placed on Woody being able to bluff: not only the playing itself, but the social aspect of the sport.
The attempts to turn the Manchester courier into one of the polo set made for amusing watching. The polo stereotype held true as he was told that he should name drop as much as possible, and be sure to mention plenty of social events.
At the £100-a-head lunch at the Cartier International, Woodys strength of character shone through. One of his female neighbours responded to Woodys fake story about his background by saying: It must be quite tough in the North of England to get drawn into polo. A punch on the nose might not have seemed an unreasonable response to such a comment, but Woody stuck to his guns and remained focussed on his task.
The final test, a seven-minute chukka and a brief interview with the judges, proved a somewhat disappointing conclusion to the show, not least because the decoys didn’t appear to have been chosen for their prowess. At least one of them was described as being an unconventional looking polo player during the programme.
Claire Tomlinson was sceptical about the standard of the decoys chosen: Would I have been fooled if I had been one of the judges? Well, thats a very difficult question. But on the other hand, he did look quite good by the end.
Woody fooled the judges, and totally felt like a polo player. His departure from the club was an emotional one, and he would love to play again if he could find a sponsor. So lets hope it isnt that tough to be drawn into polo in the North of England after all?