'I've Lost Sleep': Hunted Australia's Ben Owen Says Fugitives Turned Him 'Nearly Completely Grey'

The UK's former Chief Hunter lends his expertise to Hunter HQ in the very first Australian season of the hit series.

Former British Intelligence Officer Ben Owen first joined the Hunted family back in 2015, working across multiple seasons of the UK version, serving as both the Deputy Chief and Chief.

Serving as a Senior Analyst on the American version, Ben now heads down under to assist the Aussie HQ with his wealth of experience.

"I can't explain the amount of adrenaline a viewer would get watching an episode of this show," Ben told 10 play ahead of Hunted's premiere on Sunday, July 17. "Particularly the Australian show... it's the best game of high-tech hide and seek someone will ever watch."

READ MORE: Hunted Australia 2022: Meet The Fugitives

For Ben, getting involved in Hunted was "one of life's funny little tapestries along your journey".

"I didn't go looking for TV," he admitted, "in fact, if someone said 'TV' I'd probably run in the other direction having spent 10 years as a spy behind cameras, not going near a camera."

A friend of a friend told him a production company was on the hunt for a new TV concept that could test what living in a surveillance state looked like, and if it was even possible for someone to truly go 'off-grid'. Hearing more about the show, Ben said his answer was obvious, and within a few weeks he was in front of the UK's Channel 4 doing interviews.

Having been an intelligence gatherer for almost 20 years, 10 of which were at a government level, Ben served in the military as a sniper and has been deployed across the world.

"In the real world you're hunting fugitives for maybe years, maybe a few months if you're lucky," he said. "I must say, the Australian version... it's the most amount of Fugitives we've ever had to catch in the shortest amount of time so we are massively up against it.

"The odds are stacked against us, but we're going to do an incredible job," Ben assured us.

Despite having faith in his team of fellow Hunters, Ben did concede that the 18 Fugitives competing in the Aussie season "are quite a handful".

"I've lost sleep, I've gone nearly completely grey. They really tested us," Ben said, laughing.

"Some of the stuff you see the Fugitives doing on the Australian version you will have never seen before, even if you've watched every single episode across the world. They did, annoyingly, a really good job. They were incredibly difficult to track down."

READ MORE: ‘An Aussie On The Run Is A Very Ingenious Being’: Chief Hunter Dr David Craig Says Expect The Unexpected

Comparing the Fugitives from the UK and the Australian seasons Ben has worked across, he admitted that the Aussies "didn't tend to make too many mistakes" which, considering the immense pressure they're under, was quite a feat.

"You're under stress, you're tired, pissed off, hungry and missing home. Perhaps you've never done anything high-paced and intense before," Ben said. "Human beings generally make mistakes, but I didn't see that so much with Australians.

"My hypothesis on it, and forgive me because I'm an ignorant outsider, is probably because Australians are just a bit more resilient as human beings," he posited. "Maybe it's location, maybe as kids, you're taught to go outdoors and explore more... it was annoying at the time [but] now I look back and think fair play."

Working out of HQ, Ben explained that the Hunters are able to see paranoia actually play out through their surveillance of Fugitives.

"It sounds horrible but we LOVE when that kicks in," he said, laughing.

"They're walking along the street, they hear a noise and think it's us. A car turns a corner, they think it's us. A plane or helicopter goes overhead, they think it's us.

"Whatever they do, they're massively stressed about it, they're paranoid, at that point we can capitalise on it because in that state they're not thinking clearly... if we can't catch them through conventional means, we apply the emotional and mental pressure and force them into a corner."

Watching the Hunters at work, it's clear they're taking the experience as seriously as any other operation throughout their career.

"I wouldn't do this if it wasn't fair and transparent on both sides," Ben stated, "it just wouldn't be in my professional interests to do it.

"Not just me, but every Hunter that comes into it, we're doing this as if this was real," he continued. "We're taught when we join law enforcement, military or intelligence that we're keeping people safe. We go into [Hunted] with the same mindest because, if we don't... we're not going to do a good job.

"We're employed to do a good job and, by that, we take it completely seriously. That's what you see on screen. None of us are actors, we're just doing our job as we normally do it in the real world."

Hunted premieres Sunday, 17 July At 7.30pm on 10 and 10 play