Undercover French politicians sample 'real life' for TV show

Thu Oct 30, 2014 7:57am EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

PARIS (Reuters) - Eight French politicians will disguise themselves as citizens struggling with real-world problems in a TV show aimed at narrowing the gap between France's often remote political elite and the public they are elected to serve.

But "Mr and Mrs Everyone," due to premiere in a few weeks on the private D8 network, has provoked charges of being a gimmick debasing the decorum of public office at a time when a stagnant French economy and high unemployment has already led to pubic confidence in politicians hitting lows.

The eight politicians - now serving mandates ranging from parliamentarians and mayors to regional councillors - come from both the ruling Socialist Party and the rival conservative UMP.

The group includes Thierry Mariani, a former junior minister under ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, former parliament speaker Bernard Accoyer and Samia Ghali, an outspoken Socialist senator in the tough port city of Marseille.

"We are taking real politicians who will be living real situations in real life and will draw lessons from them," the show's producer, Olivier Halle, told Le Parisien daily.

The politicians do not play themselves, but instead disguise themselves for one day as people from different walks of life.

Mariani was put into a wheelchair for a day for the show, while Accoyer was immersed in a hospital emergency room.

Ghali said she agreed to be put in the shoes of a poor woman looking for an apartment so that she could open viewers' eyes to problems in the system.   Continued...

Thierry Mariani attends a news conference after a meeting about legislation requiring airlines to offer minimum services while on strike, at the Transport ministry in Paris February 10, 2012. REUTERS/Charles Platiau