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Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 15:12 GMT
Storm on Temptation Island
Temptation Island
Temptation Island has caused controversy in the US
US TV network Fox has caused a storm with its show Temptation Island - which tests the fidelity of couples.

The programme, which makes its debut on Wednesday evening, takes four unmarried, but long-established couples to a Caribbean island resort, splits them up for two weeks and surrounds them with 26 scantily-clad, attractive men and women.

After two weeks, contestants can choose to stay with their existing partner, or go off with one of the island's sexy inhabitants.

Temptation Island
There are 26 temptations on the island
Religious and conservative groups have attacked the programme after seeing trailers for the show, but Fox chairman Sandy Gruhow defended it.

"This is not a show, as you will see, that is about sex," he said.

"This is a show that is exploring the dynamics of serious relationships."

But Brent Bozell, founder of the Parents Television Council pressure group, said the show was a new low for the US entertainment industry.

This is another example of how America today views the pain of others as cheap entertainment

Brent Bozell, Parents Television Council
"The premise of the show - to break up committed relationships for fun - is another example of how America today views the pain of others as cheap entertainment," he said.

"The producers of Temptation Island should be ashamed of themselves for trying to force the destruction of four relationships for the entertainment purposes of those low-lifes who consent to watch this trash."

But already, Fox has admitted its contestants were tested for sexually transmitted diseases, and a couple have been dropped from the series after it was found the pair had a child.

Asked whether the contestants had been provided with condoms, Sandy Grushow replied: "I'm not going to glorify that question with a response."

Richard Hatch
Survivor winner Richard Hatch become a national celebrity
Among the single people brought onto the island for temptation were a former dancer for the Lakers basketball team, a former Playboy model, a beauty queen, the founder of an online dating service and a massage therapist.

Two men did not want their female partners to date the masseur.

One male contestant described being on the show as like "a Pepsi challenge, except it's ladies instead of a soft drink".

Temptation Island is inspired by the success of Survivor, which drew 51 million viewers to CBS last year to watch corporate trainer Richard Hatch win a $1m prize for lasting 16 weeks on a remote island.

A UK version of Survivor is being developed for ITV by Carlton Television subsidiary Planet 24.

Fox hit the headlines last year with Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire?, a game show which offered a group of women a chance to marry a very rich man.

Like a Pepsi challenge, except it's ladies instead of a soft drink

Temptation Island contestant
But it later transpired that the groom, Rick Rockwell, had had a restraining order issued against him by an ex-fiancee. He was later dumped by the show's winner, Darva Conger.

More is to come from the channel. Another reality TV series, Love Cruise, puts a group of single people together on a boat, and pairs them off in games and activities designed to find a mate.

The BBC's Tom Brook reports from New York
"Not everyone buys Fox's argument"
See also:

23 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Big Brother's little cousins
13 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Destination Mir for reality TV
08 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Reality TV bandwagon rolls
31 Dec 00 | Entertainment
A year in the life of TV's Castaways
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