Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Lee Thompson's The Bachelor SA tell-all book set to go on sale in April: 'It will be everything that happened that nobody knows but everyone wants to hear'.

Photo: Byron Keulemans - Boss Models SA

by Thinus Ferreira 

In a South African first, the star of the country's first season of The Bachelor South Africa is set to release his tell-all book, The Truth Behind the Rose, in April, saying that he will be revealing "everything that happened that nobody knows about but everyone wants to hear" and that he was oblivious at the time as to how he was actually manipulated for television while being "played like a fiddle" by producers.

In his book, Lee Thompson is not just spilling secrets as the first South African reality TV star to actually speak out about what happened to him personally behind-the-scenes but he is also revealing the emotional and psychological toll that it had taken during and afterwards on his life and mental health.

M-Net (DStv 101) and the Rapid Blue production company chose Lee Thompson as South Africa's first bachelor in 2018 for the first season of The Bachelor SA in 2019 that didn't end in a successful relationship.

A second season of The Bachelor SA followed in 2020 with The Bachelorette SA that is currently shown on the channel.

"I got the idea to write the book about one and a half years after the show and because after the mental health issues and things that I went through I just realised that if I come out and share this with people it might help others come out and help them to know that it's okay and how they can handle it and how I did it," Lee Thompson says. "I want to help set an example that can help other people."

"An autobiography is obviously a lot more about my life and my childhood, my sporting career, my past relationships and then mainly it will focus on The Bachelor SA and the manipulation and persuasions that go on behind-the-scenes that people don't know about and how they re-edit things to make portray you in a certain way and the lies that were told."

"I feel that people need to know and I'm not going to stand back and let it happen because it caused a lot of issues and I want people to know and I feel that they need to know and they want to know," he says.

Lee says he came up with the title of his book, The Truth Behind the Rose "and that I came up with the title - it just popped into my head, it was the first title and just says so much because it's really about what goes on behind-the-scenes of the show and what's really happening and what really happened in my life."

"It's the truth behind all of this glitz and glamour cover that so many people see but they need to know the truth behind it and I want people to know the truth and more about me and how it's led up to getting to The Bachelor SA and focusing on the show and what's happened."

Asked if he had any reservations about writing his book, Lee says "I've never had any reservations about writing the book".

"There was a time where I halted to process because it did take a toll on me emotionally and mentally so I just had to put a bit of a hold on it but I managed to get through it - just going back to all of those old, bad memories".

"They're not all bad but it's tough. You dig deep into your past and it can be a tough thing to do and it does play on your emotions at times but you've got to put it aside and I managed to push through."

"It's not going to be a book about what people want to see or what they've seen before - it's stuff that's going to be calling out a lot of people and sharing the truth and showing what they can do and what's wrong and I want people to know the truth."

"There's been no book that's been written like this, even in the United States. This is really calling people out and sharing the absolute truth about the show and my life and what happened after the show".

'You only see this afterwards'
Lee says his feeling is that The Bachelor SA "put me in many corners, you know, where it's difficult to choose. They just play it very well - it's a game of psychology from their side I've realised and you only see this afterwards".

"Once I rewatched all the episodes just to get accurate information again and just to revisit those moments I can give the right information in my book. I do see it differently now after watching the show now compared to a couple of years ago - it's like I see it completely differently and I realise how oblivious I was."

About who he believes manipulated him, Lee says "Yes people from M-Net were culprits and the production company Rapid Blue and obviously certain people within those companies had a lot more to do with it and I'll be naming them - I know exactly who they are. Some of them definitely played me like a fiddle."

Asked if he is still friends with Jason Greer, the host of The Bachelor SA and The Bachelorette SA, Lee says that "Jason Greer and I are still very good friends - I think our friendship came across on camera and you know, he was always there to chat to when we had the time".

"He was left out of a lot of the details of the show and he wasn't invited to Mauritius when they told him he would be and he needed to be there. I guess they told him a couple of lies too but we're great friends."

"I see him quite regularly along with his family and we braai, we chat, we share jokes and we play Xbox together and we're really good mates and I really enjoy his company. He's a really good man."

Reality TV and selling your soul to the devil
Lee Thompsons says that the subjects and issues that his book, The Truth Behind the Rose, will be covering is "from my childhood, growing up through school, to my sporting career, my business career, past relationships, family and all of that - my journey and the timeline up until the show".

"The Truth Behind the Rose will focus mainly on that and also post-show and everything that happened that nobody knows about but everyone wants to hear".

On advice to people entering reality shows or what they should keep in mind, Lee says "They need to be aware that it's not always about what they want - it's about what's going to create viewership and numbers. Ratings."

"They play the game and they push it to the way that they want it to play out, so you don't have the power or the hold on the process as you think you do, but they let you think that you do. But they persuade you and move it to the way that they see it best suited for viewership and ratings."

"It's a reality show so it's your life and they can sometimes mess with that," says Lee. 

"People just need to be aware of that and also the mental health issues and any other issues that could come up post-show that might be difficult or that you struggle to handle. People take things differently."

"People entering reality shows won't know that you've sold your soul to the devil until you sign that paper and are in there and that's what people need to realise."

'Changed me psychologically'
Lee says that having gone through the wringer of this reality show "has changed me psychologically and how I approach and see and think things through".

"It's definitely made me more aware of certain things and I will be going into more detail about it in The Truth Behind the Rose and with my feelings about it and how it has affected things positively and negatively. It's not all bad but the most important thing in your life is your health - mental health, physical health. So I will share a lot about that in my book."

After having written his book that will become available in April, Lee says "I feel relieved a bit. It's a weight off my shoulder. I feel relieved. I feel strong."

TVwithThinus asked M-Net for comment about Lee Thompson's upcoming book. 

M-Net says "All reality shows are directed to manage the quality of production and not the manipulation of outcome".

"Professional help is offered to all contestants who take part in our reality shows. This is done during the production and on offer after the show has wrapped up. We enjoyed working with Lee Thompson, and we wish him well in all his endeavours."