How to Be a Billionaire, TV review: Not quite a get-rich-quick guide
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Thursday 13 March 2014
The title of Channel 4's documentary How to Be a Billionaire makes the slightly irritating suggestion that a vast fortune is within all our grasps, but that pretence was soon given up.
Billionaires are a rare and elusive breed and this programme was only able to rustle up three of them to appear on camera: Russian media mogul-turned-trans-human futurist Dmitry Itskov, British Bebo founder Michael Birch and Indian entrepreneur Naveen Jain.
The easiest to relate to of the three was Hertfordshire boy Birch. He and his wife had come into $850m – in cash – overnight, after the sale of Bebo to AOL in 2008, but it took another three years before they began to feel comfortable with their sudden wealth. "It's hard to ever feel that you deserve to make a huge amount of money, in some ways," he said. "There's always an element of luck, but I think we did work to get it. You still feel a certain responsibility."
He and his wife now keep busy with a variety of charitable ventures, business investments and by building their own pub in San Francisco.
A full schedule, but still a lot less ambitious than the passion projects of our two other billionaires. Jain hopes to pioneer Moon tourism with his own space programme and Itskov is pouring his fortune into researching a way for humans to exist as immortal holograms
As for us mortals still residing on Planet Earth? In the spirit of the get-rich-quick guides that this was not, here are the bullet points. First, there's no substitute for hard work: even after making his billions, Jain won't allow himself a lie-in. Second, money can't buy you style – Mark Zuckerberg's flip-flops should have alerted you to that truism, but Birch's driving bandana was also a case in point. Third, and most importantly, there's no such thing as a crazy idea. Not if you're loaded, anyway.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
JK Rowling announces Harry Potter's son is starting at Hogwarts
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
Loose Women poll asking if rape is 'ever a woman's fault' sparks backlash
Akram Khan: Choreographer says dance is 'as important as maths and being a doctor'
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be