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Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
US TV's million-dollar Survivor
Susan Hawk, Rudy Boesch, Kelly Wiglesworth and Richard Hatch appearing on CBS on Wednesday night
The four finalists appear on CBS on Wednesday
A corporate trainer is $1m (675,000) richer after winning the American reality TV sensation Survivor!

Richard Hatch was one of 16 contestants marooned by CBS on the South Pacific island of Pulau Tiga in May.

Audience figures soared just uner 52 million people tuned in to watch them try to outwit each other and endure challenges like eating insects and rats, walking on hot coals and standing for hours under the sun on a tree stump.

Viewers held parties to greet the end of US TV's biggest-ever summer sensation - which has beaten by a long way the American version of Big Brother, the show responsible for similarly captivating audiences across Europe.

Richard Hatch in Survivor
Not-so-nasty Rich: Lies and deception helped his cause
Each week the castaways voted to banish one of their own from the island - leading to all kinds of alliances and Machiavellian scheming.

Successful completion of the challenges earned the contestants immunity from being voted off the island.

Many say part of the programme's appeal was that it mirrored the office politics of corporate America.

During the two-hour finale, Hatch, 39, edged out his three remaining rivals in a series of "tribal councils" and votes conducted by a jury of seven former tribe-mates. Alhough many put his winning tactics down to his skill in the corporate world, his fellow contestants came from a wide range of backgrounds.

River guide Kelly Wriglesworth, 23, found herself edged out by Hatch in the final round, after former naval officer Rudy Boesch, 72, and truck driver Susan Hawk, 38, had earlier fallen by the wayside.

Richard Hatch
Made up: Hatch has been catapulted to stardom
Whereas Big Brother's action takes place live over the internet, Survivor! was actually filmed earlier this year, and the contestants returned in May.

CBS made all the castaways sign confidentiality agreements - with the threat of hefty financial penalties if they let slip the outcome of the series.

Friends and family in the state of Rhode Island said Hatch kept his secret well - though his house had undergone renovations since he returned.

"He walked in, and I said, 'What happened?' and he would only say, 'What do you think? How do you think I did?," said Karen Massaro, a fitness director.

"Believe me, I tried to get it out of him."

Now Hatch - who is gay - has been inundated with marriage proposals from men and women.

The ousted castaways have also become celebrities - they have won advertising contracts and secured TV sitcom roles.

The final four are in demand for ads
CBS is celebrating after the show gained more viewers than any other US TV broadcast this year, with the exception of the Superbowl. The company sold a 30-second advertising slot for $600,000 (405,000).

The thirst for reality TV in the US shows no sign of abating, with 50,000 people applying to take part in Survivor Two, which will be set in the Australian outback.

However, the future for Hatch is not all rosy.

When he returned home from the island in April he was charged with second degree child abuse after his son, now 10, told police his father pulled him by the ear and wrapped his hands around his neck after the youngster became tired on a run.

The case has yet to come to trial, but Hatch is suing police and state officials for false imprisonment and defamation, and is claiming $1m in damages.

The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"They call this reality TV"

Big Brother contestant DarrenBig Brother
Stories from inside TV's most famous house

Reality TV shows in the US become more prolific and outrageous
Get real!

Click here for the BBC's own real life series - Castaway 2000
The BBC's real life drama

See also:

12 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Reality TV overload
06 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Big Brother hits the US
23 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Blow for mogul's Big Brother claim
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