Playing down your debts

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The Independent Online
On this game show, there will be no conveyor bearing knife sets, golf clubs or food liquidisers. No revolving cabinet revealing that irresistible gas barbecue. And certainly no curtains going up on a family hatchback or self-erecting tent. No, no. Win here tonight and you take home nothing!

But that is not quite fair. The prizes on this show are those things you already have, but could not afford to pay for - the washer-dryer and the new downstairs windows, all bought on the never-never. What you, and millions like you, have is what this show is called: Debt!

Due to be premiered on the Lifetime cable channel across the United States at 6.30 last night, Debt! will introduce three contestants each week. First they must lay out, before the cameras, the full extent of their financial liabilities. Then comes the chance to wipe away all that pesky red ink.

Wink Martindale, a veteran game-show host with never-ageing looks, will pepper the three with pop-culture questions, thus: "I am the film in which Robin Williams gets to hide his hairy arms and pose as a housewife". Answer: "I am Mrs Doubtfire". Cue wild applause and watch that Visa bill drop by $100. The top prize is $10,000 (pounds 6,500) to pay off a debt plus $10,000 to take home.

Want to get on the show? You are not alone. As soon as the first advertisement for contestants appeared, the queue went around the block. It is hardly surprising when you consider that Americans owe some $380m on credit cards alone.

But just in case they run out of penurious players, you might want to send in your name and debt details to: Buena Vista TV, 500 South Buena Vista Street, Burbank, California 91521, USA. I'll be watching.

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