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Pauline McLean, Arts Correspondent
"It was one of the biggest and most ambitious programmes ever made"
 real 56k

Monday, 1 January, 2001, 15:59 GMT
Tearful Castaways head home
Philiy Page and Padraig Nallen
A sad Philiy Page leaves with Padraig Nallen
TV's year long Castaway project has come to an end amid emotional scenes.

The 29 participants in the BBC's social experiment said goodbye to each other and were helicoptered off the remote Scottish island of Taransay on 1 January.

Before setting off the Castaways one-by-one reminisced about their year - the scenery, the community spirit, the toilets.

heading for waiting helicopter
The BBC will follow Castaways' lives in 2001
"I'm never, ever going to use a compost toilet ever again," announced former city trader Julie Lowe, 36.

Many were also looking forward to their new lives off the island - not least seeing their families, the joys of a hot bath, and for one young member of the Stephenson family, fish and chips.

Toby Waterman, of Yorkshire, and Tammy Huff, of Berkshire, who met on the island, plan to set up a new home together - but have not decided where.

Others who found love on Taransay were vegetarian Philiy Page, 25, and Dubliner Padraig Nallen, 28, and Trevor Kearon, 36, and mother-of-three Trish Prater, 37.

Ben Fogle
The programme has turned Ben Fogle into a star
Castaway heart-throb Ben Fogle, 26, who was in love with his pet dog Inca, was not alone in saying he would be visiting the island again "very soon".

Peter Jowers will be back sooner than most, returning in 10 days to help clear up.

His wife Sheila also promised: "It is goodbye to the project but not to the island. We'll be back."

At the outset, 36 people, made up of families, couples and individuals, were brought together by TV producers to live for a year on the wilderness island.

They had to build their homes from scratch, as well as their relationships and community.

Castaway 2000
January: Castaways arrive amid gales
February: Meningitis scare on the island
March: Ray Bowyer leaves after arguing with fellow exiles
July: Ron Copsey returns home after squabbles with community
August: Carey family leave
September: Hilary Freeman heads home after homesickness
October: Royal Navy destroys washed up explosive ordnance
December: Residents prepare to leave island

Producer Jeremy Mills said those who remained shared a profound experience.

"For some people this will have changed their lives forever and made a real difference.

"They will go back to their lives and look at it in a way they have never looked at their lives before."

Castaways such as Ron Copsey and Ray Bowyer have already left the island.

The Carey family of four left with suggestions that their Seventh Day Adventist beliefs were not compatible with the other islanders.

Mother-of-three Hilary Freeman left after a brief reunion with her family on the island triggered homesickness.

A psychologist will be available to all the Castaways to help them readjust to their lives in mainland Britain.

The BBC also plans to keep up with their new lives in the coming year.

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See also:

02 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Castaway heart-throb 'fed up'
29 Jul 00 | Scotland
Rare reunion for island Castaways
10 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Castaway in talks after island hop
10 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Castaway Ray flees media circus
06 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Castaways adrift over flu
31 Dec 00 | Entertainment
A year in the life of TV's Castaways
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