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Phillips used me, says school experiment boy

by Lester Holloway

EXPERIMENT SCHOOLBOY Ryan Bell says he feels exploited by Trevor Phillips after a TV programme was screened.

Ryan Bell: victim of Phillips TV outfit Pepper Productions.

Ryan Bell was plucked from a council estate and sent to an exclusive private school while being filmed for a Channel 4 documentary.

Now he says Phillips&#39 television company Pepper Productions abandoned him after the show was screened.

Ryan was expelled from an exclusive £15,000 per year Roman Catholic boarding school, but believes he was put him under enormous pressure by the reality TV programme.

Phillips, who produced and presented the film in 2003, wanted to prove that a black inner city boy could succeed if he was placed in a different environment.


The experiment backfired when Ryan was kicked out of Downside school, near Bath, after going on a drinking binge over a bank holiday.

Trevor Phillips
Trevor Phillips: impressed millions with his TV show but the subject, Ryan Bell, feels let down.

&#39I feel the project let me down,&#39 Bell said. &#39I was in this weird bubble, having a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and they just let that bubble burst and left me to get on with things.&#39

He added: &#39There was a lot of expectation and pressure on me to succeed, and I never knew if people were being nice just for the cameras or because they liked me.&#39

After Pepper Productions disappeared off the scene, Channel 4 attempted to pick up the pieces by finding Bell another private school in London.

However his learning was hit when his girlfriend died of heart failure and he left school with just one &#39A&#39 level despite early academic promise.

At Downside he struggled to overcome the differences in social background with his fellow pupils, which was even harder to cope with than he had expected.

Bell gradually slid into trouble, taking a fellow pupil’s mobile phone and spraying graffiti. He was expelled in his second year at Downside after downing a bottle of vodka and having his stomach pumped in hospital.

Phillips, now chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, is now distancing himself from his programme. A CRE spokesman said Phillips would not comment and said enquires should be directed to Pepper Productions, who declined to return Blink&#39s calls.

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