No one was more surprised when Kate won The Circle than her mastermind Alex Hobern.
The 26-year-old signed up to the online reality show with one aim—to create the most popular person by becoming a woman and tricking the other players into believing his character, who just happened to be in the form of his girlfriend, Millie.
The idea was to warn young people and adults alike about the dangers of the internet and social media, such as 'catfishing'—i.e. pretending to be someone you're not online.
Alex's efforts paid off—he did so well he won the Channel 4 series, along with the people's vote, pocketing a cool £75,000 in the process.
But despite it seeming like a walk in the park, Alex is the first to admit it was the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life—and not something he ever wants to repeat.
“It was really draining,” he said. “From being under 30 degree heat all day long with the lighting and then having to second guess everything I said to everyone. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I was baffled when I won.”
Alex created Kate with the help of Millie, 25, who urged him to use her pictures so he could add context about them during chats with the other players.
Alex said: “I think weirdly, Millie’s pictures fit my personality really well. I’m pretty relaxed and she looks quite natural in her photos, which is what I wanted for Kate.
“During the process I was trying to tread the fine line between being fake but not taking the piss out of people. This is probably why Kate was seen as sitting on the fence quite a lot. I didn’t want to dig the hole like Mairead did with her age.
“On the first day I went on the date with Mitchell, I was voted influencer and I had to choose someone to go home. I decided from then I wasn’t going to flirt with anyone and decided to friend-zone everyone.”
Well, not exactly everyone.
During the three-week stint in the social media reality show, Kate struck up a close bond with Dan Mosaku, who had a crush on her.
Despite his suspicions of her at one point, he ended up being instrumental in Alex’s win after giving Kate five stars in the final rating.
So it was only ever going to be awkward when Alex had to meet Dan face to face.
Alex said: “It was so hard I can’t even explain. I was pooing myself. I was escorted to this room by a runner who basically said, ‘you’re going in in three, two, one…’
“I go in and it’s just me and Dan. The only experience of revealing myself was with Aiden, which went quite well. But when I saw Dan’s face switch… It was awful. But I didn’t know if he was more annoyed at me or the producers who were all keeping the deception going.”
Despite early complications, the pair are now firm friends. So much so that they have teamed up to create their own podcast, entitled On The Fence, using some of his winnings.
“The money took ages to come through and when it did I didn’t know what to do with it,” said Alex.
“I want to buy a house someday and also want to travel. But I also wanted to back the stuff me and Dan are doing as a bit of an IOU to him.
“We decided to set up this podcast just for a bit of fun and it’s number two in the charts. Things in TV don’t happen quickly so I thought if we want to be picked up by a sponsor or programme, it’s best to get yourself noticed.
“Hopefully it will lead to something like making documentaries. My dream is to be a modern Louis Theroux.”
During his time in the Circle, Alex’s biggest critic was Freddie Bentley who, to be fair, saw straight through Kate’s fake profile.
Alex said: “Freddie is one of my closest friends since coming out. Despite his larger than life personality and wanting to be centre of attention, he’s really switched on and genuine.
“I can’t work out what it is about him but he’s so endearing you can’t help but like him and I'm delighted to call him a friend."