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Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
'Gripping' Survivor had it all
Survivor
Not necessarily the strongest survived
By BBC News Online's Patrick Heery

I honestly can't believe Survivor was not more of a hit with the viewing public.

It had every vital ingredient for my evening - backstabbing, bitchiness and bikinis.

To my mind it was like Big Brother with balls.

No sitting around on sofas reading books or being pampered in a hot tub.

Charlotte Hobrough
Charlotte brought spice to the island

It was more a case of finding adequate food to survive, catching, skinning and eating rats and coping with dwindling energy brought on by lack of nourishment.

The challenges were gripping as well.

Not for the survivors the training of a pampered puppy but the horrors of standing on a log for 24 hours in the blazing sun or eating fat, wriggling maggots.

Cheesy

That's not to say I found every aspect of the show enjoyable.

The cheesy way in which the showmakers tried to make it some sort of aboriginal Borneo experience was particularly grating.

Survivor contestants
Sixteen contestants were stranded on the island

Presenter Mark Austin's mantra when booting off the evicted: "As you know fire represents your life on this island.." was cringe-making of the highest order.

But the intrigue, alliances and back-stabbing were second to none.

Who could forget Zoe going to tribal council confident her alliances made her safe only to have her dreams shattered as the votes were counted.

If I do have one gripe it is that contestants, naturally, voted off the people they thought were the biggest threat to the 1m - in other words the best survivors.

Andy, James and Richard all fell foul of this tactic and it meant that the final two contestants were maybe not the strongest.

But then who is to say the art of survival is not about making yourself unobtrusive - the sparrow beneath the eagle's wings as psychiatrist Richard stomach-churningly put it at the show's finale.

Richard
Richard thought his mind-games would ensure his survival

Don't get me wrong, I am a Big Brother fan as well but I can't help thinking the show could learn from Survivor and up the ante as far as prize money is concerned.

Double-dealing

Then it wouldn't be boring housemates voting off people who had "very different upbringings from them" but real double-dealing nastiness as the cash prize loomed ever larger.

After all, it was Nasty Nick who made the first series worth watching.

A prize fund of 250,000 might ensure a bit more of that and not so much of the Dean and Elizabeth nicely nicelys.

And don't forget, as the public clamoured for Paul and Helen to get it together in their final week in the house, Survivor provided that Holy Grail of reality TV.

Charlotte "the Harlot's" affair with Adrian gave the audience the vicarious sex Big Brother fans have been craving for two series.

I hope she enjoys her 1m.

See also:

26 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
'Modest' ratings for 1m Survivor
19 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Survivor pig death prompts new law
03 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Didgeridoo players 'sue Survivor'
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