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Dover Father and son Bob and Alex Ayling go on the run in Channel 4 programme Hunted

By Beth Robson

A father and son from Dover have been on the run across Britain and will feature on the Channel 4 reality TV programme Hunted.

Bob Ayling and his son Alex will appear as contestants in the series of six programmes broadcast from next Thursday, January 4, at 9pm.

East Kent Freemason Bob will spend 25 days avoiding capture, pursued across the UK by an elite team of 30 hunters, drawn from some of the world’s best investigators and led by former Scotland Yard detective, Chief Peter Bleksley.

Father and son fugitives Bob and Alex Ayling on reality TV programme Hunted. Picture courtesy of Channel 4
Father and son fugitives Bob and Alex Ayling on reality TV programme Hunted. Picture courtesy of Channel 4

Contestants are up against a formidable force as the hunters are equipped with search dogs, drones, CCTV and helicopters - but the basic tools are unchanged: instinct, research and a deep understanding of the technological resources available.

They also dangle lucrative carrots - a large financial reward to friends and relatives of the fugitives if they give their location away.

Alex said, “I wanted to take part for multiple reasons. Primarily because I have a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome which led to years of bullying throughout a large part of my school life (from the ages of nine to sixteen).

“This had a tremendous negative effect on my confidence, my self-belief and overall opinion of myself.

“By participating, I wanted to go beyond what I believed I was capable of doing and prove to those who made the majority of my younger years miserable that I did have worth and value.”

ON THE RUN: Father and son fugitives Bob and Alex Ayling on reality TV programme Hunted. Picture courtesy of Channel 4
ON THE RUN: Father and son fugitives Bob and Alex Ayling on reality TV programme Hunted. Picture courtesy of Channel 4

Bob, when talking of how they survived, said: “We lived off charity from strangers who helped us. Sleeping anywhere we could. Eating whatever we could lay your hands on which sometimes was barely a couple of hundred calories a day.

"Water was everything... You keep on the move never stopping in one place too long.

“You have to stay mentally strong as you become intensely paranoid. You know the Hunters are always looking for you.

“You must never feel sorry for yourself. You have to get help, but by doing so your movements can become predictable as you are more likely to try to get help from a friend. By asking for help you run the risk of being informed on for reward.”

He also added: “Life will never be the same after that experience. It was the greatest adventure ever.”

The hunters: Professional trackers use tactics and resources employed by the state to find fugitives on the run. Picture courtesy of Channel 4
The hunters: Professional trackers use tactics and resources employed by the state to find fugitives on the run. Picture courtesy of Channel 4

Alex said: “I would agree (to do it again) in a heartbeat.

“There were many highs and lows throughout but each one culminated in a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you cannot put a price on.”

Dom Bird, Head of formats at Channel 4 said: “We very much look forward to building on the success of Hunted in new and exciting ways for series three.

"In an era of unparalleled scrutiny around both privacy and security, Hunted has become a thrilling and eye-opening game of cat and mouse, pitting determined fugitives against expert hunters.

"It’s already clear that this year both sides will have to raise their game as they battle it out to emerge triumphant.”

Hunted contestants who appear on the reality TV show. Picture courtesy of Channel 4
Hunted contestants who appear on the reality TV show. Picture courtesy of Channel 4

The series is produced by Shine TV with executive producers Tim Whitwell, Matt Bennett and Jonathan Smith.

The first hour long episode of the six-week series starts on Channel 4 next Thursday at 9pm and runs each week thereafter.

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