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Celebrity sperm donor hoax revealed

22 October 2012
Appeared in BioNews 678

A celebrity sperm donor service called Fame Daddy that was profiled in news reports in the British media has been revealed as a hoax.

Its 'director', calling himself Daniel Richards, appeared on national television before the company was revealed to be a promotional stunt for a new television comedy. ITV's This Morning invited Richards to the show to answer questions about the service, but it later acknowledged that the man who appeared on the programme was an actor working for another television production company.

The man also appears in a promotional video for Fame Daddy posted on its website. 'Do your friends consider you unattractive? Are you unsuccessful in sport, and business?', Richards asks. 'Are you fat?' Richards continues, while the camera zooms in on his smirk. 'If you've answered yes to any of those questions, then I would advise you to please stop breeding'.

These provocative opening lines may not read convincingly, but combined with Fame Daddy's extensive website and social media presence they managed to convince ITV and several national newspapers that the operation was authentic.

The premise of Fame Daddy's service was simple - it offered 'premium' donor sperm, providing the genetic impetus to help create equally successful offspring. 'Well-known faces from the worlds of sports, science, and entertainment have agreed to share their genetic inheritance for the benefit our clients, and mankind', explained a woman calling herself Leila Anderson, the company's 'CEO'.

Fame Daddy's 'head of science', going by Dr Gabriel Pawlak, who casually downs the contents of a test tube before he starts speaking and who also bears a remarkable resemblance to the director, Richards (with the addition of a stylish moustache and Polish accent), notes: 'I am not a good-looking man, but I live in a world where my children can be. Why would my wife and I have my child, when we can have a good-looking famous one?' And if that logic didn't convince viewers, Fame Daddy cites a published scientific study alongside an accompanying news write up which, it suggests, back up its rationale.

An ITV spokeswoman, explaining how its staff failed to catch on to the hoax, said: 'We obviously always make every effort to ensure the legitimacy of all the many stories which we feature on This Morning, as well as the authenticity of all guests. We carry out a range of checks, which in this case included verifying that this company was legally registered, and we did the interview in good faith'.

Despite all the shenanigans, Fame Daddy does have a point to make. 'There is a serious side to the programme in that it aims to highlight the sometimes detrimental impact of social media on our news culture', read a statement issued by 2LE Media, who produced Fame Daddy as part of a comedy for Channel 4. 'Fame Daddy, for example, after starting out simply as a press-released website with a social media footprint has reached Los Angeles, China and Australia', it said.

Fame Daddy offers celebrity sperm but it could be a flop
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ITV forced to apologise after featuring celebrity sperm bank hoaxer on This Morning
Mail Online |  18 October 2012
ITV's This Morning victim of celebrity sperm donor hoax
Independent |  18 October 2012
14 April 2014 - by Chee Hoe Low 
Although this show jumped to conclusions about what the DNA of famous people could tell us, its ridiculous premise was amusing enough to keep viewers entertained...
23 April 2012 - by Rosemary Paxman 
Ed Houben, a 42-year-old Dutch man has fathered at least 82 children by private sperm donation, mostly by having sex with his clients, news sources report...
12 December 2011 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
A man in the United States is reportedly being investigated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after offering his sperm for donation. Trent Arsenault, a 36 year-old computer security expert from California, has set up a website offering his sperm without charge to anyone who wishes to use it to have a baby....
17 October 2011 - by Dr Zara Mahmoud 
Increasing numbers of women under the age of 25 are turning to sperm donors online, an investigation by the Sunday Times has shown. Many of these women have stable jobs and good support networks, and see no reason to wait before starting a family...
26 September 2011 - by Jessica Ware 
The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the UK's fertility regulator, has admitted breaches of the sperm donation limit have occurred, following news that one donor has fathered 17 families...
25 October 2010 - by Harriet Vickers 
Two experts have indicated their support for paying sperm and egg donors more money...
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