New Reality Show Is A Fake

A "reality" show debuting Wednesday in Britain isn't real at all.

In fact,

CBS News correspondent Richard Roth, that's the entire premise of "Space Cadets," which Roth suggests could have been called "Star Trick."

The show's calling itself the biggest hoax in television history.

Contestants answered an ad for "thrill-seekers," but don't know the reality show they're on is 100 percent artificial.

"They believe that they are in Russia, on a military base, and that in a few days' time, they will be the first space tourists to go into space," says Annabel Jones, the producer of "Space Cadets."

But in fact, Roth says, they're at an old airbase in Britain that's been outfitted to look like a cosmonauts' training camp. Their spaceship's a rental, imported from Hollywood.

Contestants are actually on the shuttle built for the movie "Space Cowboys," which has sound effects, hydraulic lifts, and high-definition TV screens. They're being told they won't be flying high enough to feel weightless.

The idea is that British viewers will be glued to their sets, following contestants who are clueless about their real mission which is to boldly go … nowhere.

Roth says that is what the same producers did quite successfully with "Big Brother," though this time, they claim, the audience draw isn't televised histrionics, but a kind of television history.

"I think we liked the idea that there could be a moment where everyone thought, where everyone said, 'Where were you when we didn't send people into space?' " Jones says.

Will the show catch on? Nobody knows yet. But Roth says the whole thing could have been history before it ever got off the ground: When the contestants were flown to the training camp they think is in Russia, they could have looked out the window and seen a London skyscraper.