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Calls for Iraqi 'Punk'd' to be axed

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 05 September 2010

An Iraqi prank show plants fake bombs under celebrities' cars then threatens the unwitting participants with maximum-security prison.

A policeman searches a car at a checkpoint in al-Sa'adoun street in Baghdad. Reuters.

The Baghdad-based Candid Camera-style programme has caused so much negative publicity there have been calls for it to be cancelled.

Stunts in Put Him in Bucca include planting fake bombs under local celebrities' cars. The unsuspecting celebrities are then stopped at checkpoints, accused of being suicide bombers and threatened with prison by actors posing as police and security personnel.

The title refers to the notorious Camp Bucca prison, which has been called Iraq's Guantanamo, and closed last year.

The celebrities later gave their consent for the segments to be broadcast - and some have said in interviews they were happy to participate.

"I expected it to be a candid camera show but didn't expect all the army facilities and this level of acting," said actress Asia Kamal of her brush with the pranksters. "God Bless them, they have good acting skills and are involved in such programmes, they were patient and helpful."

But with violence in the Iraqi capital a regular occurrence, the hidden-camera ruse is starting to raise questions across the globe.

American TV host Keith Olbermann branded the show's makers the "world's worst" on his MSNBC show.

Many viewers have complained to the network - claiming the show is insensitive, and one saying al-Baghdadia may be "dancing on the wounds of Iraqis"'.

The producers say it is harmless entertainment, and that despite the protests the show will go on.

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