Simon Cowell Show 'Red Or Black?' Axes Contestants With Criminal Records

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ITV1 and production company Syco have taken action after the first million pound prize-winner was found to have served jail time for violently assaulting his girlfriend.

LONDON - It wasn't exactly the debut ITV1 and Simon Cowell were hoping for. No sooner had 31-year-old Nathan Hageman scooped the first million pound ($1.7 million) prize in the lavish new casino-style gameshow Red or Black?last week, when it emerged that the contestant had served time for violent assault.

Hageman, who was described on the primetime show as a builder, had been sentenced to five years in jail after attacking his ex-girlfriend in 2006. Hageman reportedly broke into the house in the early hours of the morning armed with a machete, mounting an attack that left her badly injured, according to a number of newspapers.

Now ITV1 and Simon Cowell's production company Syco have begun an urgent review of profiling contestants on the show and dropped two in the current lineup after conducting a series of emergency background checks. None are thought to have been on screen yet.

Despite the assault, Hageman has been allowed to keep the prize money he won, but ITV said in a statement that it had reviewed its screening procedures.

The process is complex as the show began last week with a thousand contestants registered in the early stages.

"ITV has reviewed the background checks on remaining contestants from Red or Black?As a result of this we have asked producers to remove two contestants from this week's shows. Red or Black?will continue on these two occasions with seven, rather than eight, contestants," the network said in a statement.