Ramez Galal’s controversial prank show set to return during Ramadan

The Egyptian actor and comic faced criticism last year with accusations the show went too far

A handout photo of Ramez Galal for Ramez Wakel Elgaw show (Courtesy: MBC) NOTE: For Hala Khalaf's roundup of Ramadan soaps for 2015 *** Local Caption ***  MBC MASR - RAMEZ WAKEL ELGAW 2.jpg
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Notorious celebrity prankster Ramez Galal will return with a new series this Ramadan.

Broadcast on MBC Masr nightly throughout the holy month, which is likely to begin on Tuesday, the Egyptian comedian and actor will have more celebrities jittery in Ramez Aqlahu Tar.

Translated to "Ramez has lost his mind", the controversial series will once again lure unsuspecting actors, television personalities and sports stars to a specific location before being plunged – in this year's case, quite literally – into a complex prank designed to scare the wits out of them.

Last year on the show, guests unwittingly sat on a chair that transformed into a 360° gyrating rollercoaster that sent them flailing across the set.

The thrill of the series – so to speak – is to see glamorous personalities in hysterics and their priceless reaction upon discovering Galal is behind the mayhem.

Sometimes the host's infectious personality manages to calm seething guests. Other times, such as the case of Egyptian star Mohamed Ramadan, the charm offensive falls flat and scuffles ensue.

Galal surely wouldn't mind the odd bruise, as the series remains a ratings machine.

Speaking to The National during Ramadan last year, former MBC Group spokesperson Mazen Hayek remarked how it only took two days for previous series Ramez Majnun Rasmi to have more than 200 million people tune in across MBC's linear channels, streaming platforms and social media accounts.

A terrifying leap of faith

While the trailer doesn't reveal too much about this season’s prank concept, what we can glean is that it revolves around a flight that goes horribly wrong.

Unlucky guests, including Egyptian actors Dina El Sherbiny and Mohammed Henaidy, are ushered into what resembles a helicopter. After things go awry mid-flight, they are then forced to wear life jackets and jump out of the craft into a pool of water below.

The final section of the trailer has celebrities seeing red after realising it is all a hoax. For one unidentified guest, it is all too much and he puts Galal in a headlock.

Is it funny any more?

It will be interesting to see if Ramez Aqlahu Tar will illicit the same level of vitriol as the previous Ramadan iterations of the show.

While successful, there is no question that Ramez Majnun Rasmi carried some episodes that were more disturbing than funny.

Examples include Egyptian actress Ghada Adel nearly passing out from fear and Galal dangling a fake python in front of Saudi actor Hassan Assiri, who was visibly petrified.

The content was enough for Egypt’s Abbasiya Mental Health Hospital to issue an advisory urging parents to restrict children from viewing the programme.

The move triggered the Egyptian Media Syndicate to call for Galal to be banned from media outlets in the country.

While Ramez Aqlahu Tar will undoubtedly bring the fear factor, it remains to be seen if viewers, mentally drained after more than a year of the pandemic, will see the funny side of the pranks any more.

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