A reality TV show trending globally on Netflix has seen a Maidenhead man compete against 545 other people in a high-stakes series of challenges with just one taking home $4.56milliom.

Sam Kohn, 27, from Maidenhead, took part in Squid Game The Challenge, a game show inspired by the Korean TV show of the same name which rose in popularity in 2021 - becoming the most-watched new series on Netflix with 111million views in the first 28 days.

The original show saw characters compete for survival and a cash prize - in a reality TV show spin, Netflix has swapped actors for everyday people.

Having seen the original series, Sam remembers the moment he spotted a strange advert on his Instagram page asking "Do you want to play Squid Game for real?" with instructions to send in a one-minute application video explaining why you want to take part.

Sam jumped at the opportunity and filmed a skit pretending to be preparing for the show.

"I thought it was a joke to begin with," he said, adding that he didn't hear back for five to six months.

He was later contacted to do a series of video interviews with a casting agent, Netflix and a psychologist, before undergoing a criminal background check.

"I was quite scared - I definitely didn't have serious intentions of doing it when I applied."

Finding out how much money was on the line, Sam decided to seize the opportunity and put his life as a freelance writer on hold.

Jumping on a train from Maidenhead to London in January 2023, Sam underwent a three-day quarantine together with other players at a hotel ahead of the show, however, there were strict rules to not talk to each other.

Getting on to the set, Sam said it was "incredibly intense" with the initial Red Light Green Light game seeming to last five minutes to the watcher, but Sam claimed it took upwards of six hours of prep and eight to nine hours of gameplay - which he said was in "complete silence".

"It was as tense as it looked," he added.

Sam explained people had to stand still for 30 minutes at a time while motion sensor drones flew overhead.

The show was filmed in January with temperatures dropping below zero.

Despite this, Sam says two participant's threats of a lawsuit against Netflix, who claim they suffered hypothermia and nerve damage, is a "non-starter" as "everyone knew what they were getting themselves into".

Slough Observer:

Finishing sixth in the first game, Sam made it through another round in the competition before being knocked out in the warships game - where he felt like a "sitting duck" as his fate was in his team leader's hands while he took up a position as a 'ship'.

At first, Sam said he felt quite "bitter" that he was knocked out during this round.

"I am confident that if I had made it through Warships I would have made it through another three episodes at least."

Losing competitors would see an ink pack or 'squid pack' strapped to their chest explode with instructions to 'play dead' once they were eliminated.

Looking back at his experience, Sam said: "You forget that it's a TV show and that it is not life and death.

"Your friends would be getting eliminated and people would be hysterically crying, losing their minds.

"I think I played a good game, made a lot of friends and I actually enjoyed the experience a lot, while some people found it too intense.

"I really loved and thrived on the drama of it all."

Sam said he never thought he would win, but if he had he would have "never worked again" and spent time travelling.

Sam managed to sneak a souvenir off-set, a Vaseline tub with his assigned number 188 on.

Slough Observer:

When asked if he would do another gameshow in future, Sam said: "I would want to do another [TV] game which is more about social strategy."

He has kept in contact with fellow participants in group chats. 

Asking if he would recommend participating in reality TV to other people, Sam said: "A hundred per cent. For me, it has been the coolest experience I have ever done.

"So I think even though my profile doesn't increase from being on it and we weren't paid. In some ways you can look at it and say it was a waste of time, but I loved the experience and peak behind the curtain of what it is like being on TV and I loved being on the set and feeling like you are a part of something huge.

"Why not do something which puts you out of your comfort zone?"

Netflix's Squid Game The Challenge released its first five episodes on November 22 and the final four today (November 29).