Murwillumbah couple to feature on The Briefcase tonight
MURWILLUMBAH parents Troy and Mem Hockley say a controversial new TV show has changed their lives.
The parents of four were living in Port Stephens near Newcastle and planning on a seachange to the Northern Rivers when they received a phone call from television producers.
"They said they were doing a doco on battling Aussie families," Troy told APN.
"I was thinking it was a Monday arvo, 2pm type thing; all tame and quiet. But then we got an idea something might be happening, like a Backyard Blitz-type thing."
But the Hockleys would receive much more than a backyard makeover. They soon found they were on a new reality show called The Briefcase, which gives struggling families $100,000.
But the cash come with a twist - they discover there is another family in need and they must choose whether to share the spoils, keep it all for themselves or give it all away.
What they don't know is the other family is in the exact same situation with another briefcase.
The controversial new series made its debut on Channel 9 last week, sparking a social media debate about the moral dilemma in which the participants are placed.
The Hockleys, who will appear in episode two tonight, say it was an emotional rollercoaster but they'd do it all again.
"I thought it was fantastic," Troy said.
"(Criticising the show) is like getting upset with someone who throws you a surprise party. It's a huge opportunity where you can choose to be a hero or a villain.
"There was a lot of soul searching and reflection, but we came away feeling great."
Troy is a fencing sub-contractor while Mem home schools their children and runs a charity for underprivileged girls called Mem's Soul Food.
Mem, who celebrated her 40th birthday on Friday, said when she went on the show she was overwhelmed with her charity work.
"I've tried to do anything I've done without trying to get money and I burned out," she said.
"I don't like how money controls people; it just scares me.
"The show was a lesson for me to get over my fear of money because I can use it to help people."
Mem and Troy are currently studying counselling at Kingscliff TAFE and plan to relaunch Mem's Soul Food next month.
"I still have a team of about 40 people down in Port Stephens and now we have a team up here ready to go," she said.
"It does take a lot of work, but now that Nine has picked our charity up for everyone to see I feel very blessed with that."
The Briefcase airs tonight at 7.30pm on Channel 9.