The nation's most famous block of flats welcomes its latest set of residents. A £100k prize is at stake in an unpredictable game of popularity. The players will be living just metres apart, but they can't see or hear each other. Instead they communicate via a voice-activated platform called The Circle.
OCCUPATION: YouTuber and Content Creator
PLAYING AS: His Uncle Syed
• What is your MOTIVATION FOR ENTERING THE CIRCLE? What is it about the game that made you want to apply?
From a young age I loved pranking people. I've always been the one in the house that makes everyone else laugh, I'm always very animated. When I came across The Circle, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to put my pranking and catfishing abilities to the test and entertain the British public, whilst hopefully getting a cash injection! It’s tough, money wise, to make everything work while doing YouTube.
As a young British Muslim, I'm smack bang in between my British side and the traditions and ideologies that I try to follow. I have always wanted to be on a mainstream TV channel to represent the British Bangladeshi community, but I didn't know the right medium or how. When I saw the show, I thought it was so incredible because for me as a young British Muslim, there's so many things about the show that work for me. For example, I won’t be staying in the same apartment as females and I’ll be able to still pray five times a day. The nature of the show works for me.
• Have you watched the show before and did that give you any tips on how to play the game?
Yeah, from series two I saw a lot of people used pictures of people they didn’t necessarily know and had a disconnect from their catfish profile. The only person that could still connect with their character was James who played Sammie. He was able to connect with his character more because of his background growing up with a single mother. I knew if I’m going to be catfishing, I need to have a real genuine connection with the character. The photographs are like your chess pieces in my opinion. My uncle doesn't actually have many photos because that whole generation are not really big on them, so I took it upon myself to take all kinds of pictures with him in different scenarios. I even got my mate’s mum to take pictures with him so I could portray a romantic interracial love story to show that love always wins.
• What is your STRATEGY to win the show? Are there any specific tactics that you think will help you win?
Firstly, to be someone that's older so that I can be respected and maybe even get some sympathy and pull on people's heartstrings. He's a sweet old man who just doesn't have the best English grammar, so everyone helps him and guides him a little bit. Then he’ll catch everyone with their guard down. I’m going to be making people laugh all the time without even meaning to. I'm going to make out like he's not intentionally trying to be funny just by random stuff that he might say. Also, being someone that brings in some wisdom and life experience. I want to be there to pick people up at times because I'm sure the process will get difficult for some people and I want to be a support mechanism for them.
• You are playing as your uncle. How does that differ from the person I am speaking to right now and why did you decide to play as someone else? He doesn't understand social media in the way that I understand it with emojis and hashtags, so it will all be very foreign to him. There are specific differences like age, he's married, he's got a child and his profession but the language he uses will be the main difference. There are a lot of things connecting us too, he’s a restaurant owner and he's the life and soul of his restaurant and I feel like that's me with creating my content online. I think personality wise; he's going to be very similar in terms of my craziness.
People see First generation migrants and often assume that they have a barrier to their ability to communicate with society due to English sometimes being their second language. I really want to take this opportunity to portray a character like that, and completely break them free of any assumptions that people might make about him. I want to show that that generation can have a real laugh too and see how people react.
• Are you worried about any backlash you might get when you reveal that you are not the person you are saying you are?
I think my cheekiness and pranky nature helps me get away with it. If there is any kind of backlash, whether it's from the public or the other contestants, I'm just going to give them a big smile. If they want a hug, I'll give them a big squeeze. It's a game show and they have to remember that. We're all here to have fun and try and win some money. I would reassure them that it was never done with any kind of bad intention.
• How much research have you done on your catfish personality?
My catfish is the life of his restaurant, all the regulars don't just come for the food, they come for him as well. He's always making everyone laugh and is a magnetizing force. When I was born, my dad started his restaurant which we still have to this day, so growing up I had loads of primary and secondary subconscious research. I’ve grown up around that environment and I know what life is like for a migrant worker. My research is just my experience from my life. I’ve also done a lot of research on the 1970’s, what a typical day would’ve been like for my uncle, in terms of pop culture and current events, to really get a feel of what that time was like and get into that frame of mind.
• How do you feel about being on TV?
I'm just so excited. It’s not just being on TV, it’s a massive opportunity for me to represent British Bangladeshi’s on mainstream television.
• How much do you use social media in the real world?
I used social media on and off just for friends and family until 2015. I wasn't a massive user of it. In fact, throughout my teens I didn't even have a mobile phone. I was always the type of guy to catch a bus to my mate’s house and just knock. I started to use social media properly in late 2016 when I started my YouTube channel. Now even though I do create content online, I'm not a big user of my phone and social media. I do what I need to in terms of putting out content because that's what I enjoy. I prefer creating the content rather than just staring at my screen and watching what everyone else is doing. For me, life is all about making it one big adventure and staring at a phone all day isn't an experience in my opinion.
• In real life how does your online social media self differ to who you really are in person?
It’s me but just cranked up to 11. People resonate with energy and everyone wants a dopamine trigger spike in their brain when they watch online content, whether it's listening to music or watching a comedy piece, so I just crank up my energy.
• Who do you admire on social media? Who do you think uses it well? Gary Vee, he is a really cool guy. He’s an online social media guru and just tells people what they need to hear, I think he's really great. I like the artist called ifacesoul. He does freestyle music. He doesn't have a huge social media presence, but I love his stuff. The messages in his freestyles are just about spreading joy, happiness, love and compassion. They are such beautiful themes and he creates it on the spot. For me social media is not about who has the biggest platform, it's about genuine connection. It has to be something that I would like to experience in real life as well as seeing it on a screen. Also, The Rock I guess, everyone loves The Rock.
• Have you ever been catfished? Or caught a catfish?
Yeah, it was back in the days of Bebo. I don't know what filters she used on her pictures, but back then the filters were different. It was all yellow and green lighting filters and green hearts. It was so mad back then; you had no idea what someone looked like.
• Do you think you'll be able to spot any catfish on the show? Yeah, definitely. Previously people have tried catching people out using words, but I’m going to think logistically. For example, how was this photo taken? I’m not going to break the fourth wall and say I think someone is definitely catfishing. I’m just going to present the information in a way that shows that their story doesn’t match up. I am the King of Catfish! It would be so great if I found another catfish and we made a group chat with all the catfish, because catfish have to stick together. That would be so amazing. I hope that happens!
• Do you think what you say on The Circle matters or will you say anything if it would help you win?
It definitely matters. You have to have the right moral standing and have the right intentions. I have a picture which I took of my uncle with a Black Lives Matter poster and if he had no idea what it was or if he was against it, that would be completely wrong. The reason I took that picture is because he is so passionate about the BLM movement. You need to say things that are genuinely important, but they have to come from the right place.
• Do you ever use social media to flirt or look for love?
It’s difficult. It’s better to meet someone in an organic way. It’s better to meet randomly or through friends, but people do slide into my dm’s and I slide into dm’s myself. I’m not hunting, I just see a girl and want to see what she’s about. It is difficult to meet people sometimes, so I do try my luck. But I never feel a genuine connection, because it’s through social media.
• Has social media made it easier or more difficult for people to find romance? Do you think it is possible to fall in love online?
It’s made it easier to fall into bad love. It’s easier to find someone, but you find fake love. A lot of love is like that. It’s not selfless. The first generation of migrants had that survival love, where they would do everything that they could for their partner. Social media portrays love as something that you give or get, but it’s something that you have to grow. Everyone is so impatient, and they just want to post a picture with their partner on social media because they’re chasing that image.
• Will you be open to people flirting with you on the show?
I’m open to anything. If anyone wants to message me in that way, I’m cool with it, but Uncle Syed is married so I won’t be reciprocating.
• Do you want to win? How far will you go to win?
I want to win 100%. I’m in it to win it. I will do everything that I’m capable of doing within my moral framework. I will give everything in terms of effort, but I won’t intentionally hurt someone. It’s just not worth it. I wouldn’t want to cause any emotional pain.
• What would you do with the prize money?
I’ll have to save some for when I find someone to get married to, because South Asian weddings are expensive. One thing I would love to do with this money is to support a current non-for-profit government organisation I’m working with that helps highlight the struggles of the intersex community in Bangladesh and provides necessary support to help them integrate and rightfully be accepted like any other member of society.
• Any surprising facts or hidden talents that we should know about you? I’m just nuts, you’ll see me dancing around the apartment. I do play guitar but I’m not very good. I am bringing it with me, so you’ll see me jamming!