Payday lenders Wonga to fund Channel 5 endurance challenge show


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The Independent Culture

Channel 5 has teamed up with payday lenders Wonga to make a new endurance show for the channel.

The broadcaster said it was "fantastic" to be working with the firm, which has come under criticism for charging high interest rates.

The show, called Go Hard or Go Home, will feature members of the public taking part in a series of tough endurance challenges including a 127-mile cycle race across the Pyrenees and a Californian triathlon.

It is produced by Channel 5 but paid for by Wonga, who helped develop the idea with presenter Hannah White.

Jason Wells, Channel 5 acting commissioning executive for factual and features, said: "This is a very exciting new commission for Channel 5 and it's fantastic to be working with Hannah White and Wonga.

"Viewers will enjoy watching Hannah put the competitors through their paces in these life-changing challenges. It's really important to show our regular viewers that the opportunity to completely change their lives for the better is possible for all of them."

The entire payday lending industry, worth £2 billion, was referred last month for a full-blown investigation by the Competition Commission after the trading watchdog uncovered "deep-rooted" problems with the industry.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said it decided to make the referral because it continues to suspect that features of the market "prevent, restrict or distort competition".

The Archbishop of Canterbury also entered the fray today, warning Wonga that the Church of England wants to "compete" it out of existence as part of its plans to expand credit unions as an alternative to payday lenders.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said he had delivered the message to Errol Damelin, chief executive of Wonga, during a "very good conversation".

"I've met the head of Wonga and we had a very good conversation and I said to him quite bluntly: 'We're not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we're trying to compete you out of existence'," Mr Welby told Total Politics magazine.

"He's a businessman, he took that well."