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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 13:10 GMT
Castaways adrift over flu
Many of the volunteers have been moved off the island
Volunteer castaways taking part in a new BBC series have been moved from their remote Scottish island to the sanctuary of a nearby town after coming down with flu.

The group of 36 men, women and children involved in the TV experiment were struck with the virus on the five-mile-long island of Taransay, west of Harris in the Atlantic.

Those worst affected have been transferred to the town of Tarbert on Harris.

Island 'epidemic'

Executive producer Jeremy Mills said: "Over the Christmas period and New Year almost everybody in the group got the flu bug.

"It was decided that for their safety at the start of the experiment, those who were worst off would be taken off the island."

He added that he did not know exactly how many of the volunteers had contracted flu. But he called the outbreak an "epidemic" in the community because members of the production team had also been affected.

The modern-day Robinson Crusoes - chosen to reflect a microcosm of British society - are being filmed for a documentary called Castaway 2000, produced by Lion Television for BBC Scotland.

The programme will follow the castaways' efforts to survive for a year without modern-day comforts on the uninhabited, treeless Taransay which is at the mercy of high winds and stormy seas from September to May.

Community life

Mills said he hoped all the volunteers would soon be back on Taransay, which in recent years has been used as rough grazing for sheep and deer.

But he also stressed that the safety of the group was fundamental to the programme.

"As we have always said this is not a survival exercise. This is an exercise in building a community," he said.

The castaways' latest misfortune follows storms and 100mph winds which blasted the settlement, ripping off a roof and blowing over a pig sty.

Castaway 2000 begins on BBC One on 18 January.

See also:

31 Dec 99 | Scotland
Castaways prepare for bleak New Year
06 Jan 00 | Health
Flu cripples intensive care
06 Jan 00 | Scotland
Flu ravages Scotland
28 Dec 99 | Health
Holiday flu grips nation
08 Apr 99 | Medical notes
Flu
24 Nov 99 | Entertainment
BBC goes retro for winter
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