When M-Net announced that it will bring viewers a local version of the smash hit international reality dating show The Bachelor in 2019, the very same question popped into many heads: Who would the brave – but lucky – Prince Charming be who would be willing to put his heart on the line to woo– and be wooed by – a bevy of beautiful local lasses?
The secret is out! Tonight (Sunday, 7 October) just after Carte Blanche, M-Net gave viewers a glimpse of the handsome hunk who will forever be known as South African reality television’s first Bachelor.
The name is Lee. Lee Thompson, for those who were curious about his surname and won’t be able resist the temptation to Google - and ogle - more on the worldwide web.
“Our first Bachelor is a real dreamboat; frankly, a catch in a million,” says M-Net’s Head of Publicity, Lani Lombard. “Once you are ready to look beyond that sexy six-pack and sultry smile, you you will find a sincere soul who oozes boyish charm – a guy with whom our viewers – and every contestant - will undoubtedly fall in love.”
Lee is an accomplished all-rounder. He is a former Sharks rugby player and an entrepreneur with several successful business ventures on his resume. He also happens to be a sought-after international model, and when he’s not cutting deals or pumping iron in the gym, he dedicates his time to meaningful charity work.
But how did M-Net and production company Rapid Blue recruit Lee as The Bachelor?
“It was a tall order. Literally and figuratively speaking,” Lombard says. While the ladies could enter the show, it was up to us to find The Bachelor. After many hours of scouting for the Mr Perfect, we came up with a solution – we asked the shortlisted ladies, who come from all walks of life, to list the attributes that would sway them to say “yes” when the question is popped, ‘cause after all, the show is supposed to lead to a marriage proposal!”
They all immediately had one very specific request: he had to be tall. And Lee, at 1.88m, socks and all, fits the bill. The diverse group of 25 ladies from across South Africa representing our rainbow nation can comfortably wear their high heels when they want to sweep him off his feet. His height came in handy on the rugby field. He got his first major break in the Varsity Cup-winning Tuks team; then he captained the Blue Bulls U19 before switching to the Sharks, for whom he played at U21 and senior level.
The next requirement was "kind-hearted", followed by "adventurous", "generous", "financially independent" and "fun". Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt if he was easy on the eye. Lee ticked the boxes, one and all.
Financially independent? Heck, yeah. He owns and operates a cleaning company called Clean Smart and the website development business Skyler Web. Before he ventured into modelling, he also owned a gym. Lee’s other major passion is philanthropy. He founded the non-profit organization #LiveHopeLoveSA.
And, how does Lee feel about stepping into the role of South Africa’s first Bachelor?
“My life goal is to have an amazing family life and, yes, I do know that this is an unusual way to find true love, but something deep inside me tells me that the universe is going to give me what I need right now - the woman of my dreams. I can’t wait to meet and get to know the 25 ladies. Chemistry often works in mysterious ways and I have no preconceived ideas about who I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
The Bachelor will only meet the ladies once filming commences. The show will be screened on M-Net 101 from Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2019.