Castaway 2000, so the BBC claim, was the original reality TV program, a group of volunteers tucked away on a brutal and isolated Scottish Island for a year to see how they would cope as an isolated community. It was engaging television to a point and the people did seem to suffer enough to justify the budget, a refreshing amount of contestants not looking to make a name for themselves on national TV. Yes the foppish Ben Fogle did make a career out of it, although he was reasonably connected in the media before he went in and was probably going to be someone, anyway. We haven't heard of the rest of them since, some still living there, I believe. And that's the way it should be.
But the sequel, Castaway 2007, on the other hand, is exactly what we expected, a bunch of wannabes that were picked for exactly the wrong reasons of forming a community, this time in native New Zealand, and by all-accounts the location far from isolated, a public camp site just off camera and tourist regularly coming to the beache you see in the show. Apparently the 120 strong crew spent most of their time stopping the castaways wandering off to the nearby campsite disco! It would have been more fun if they were encamped in a suburb of Baghdad instead! Now that I would like to see, mortar shells raining down on the veggie patch! I would even ring the dodgy premium phone line to vote them all to stay.
The BBC-with your money- sent that 120 strong team out to craggy NZ to produce the show, most living in a small media village just one mile away from the camp huts, which begs the question why New Zealand and why isn't the place secluded? What is the point of this show and expense guys? Its the same deal with Channel Fours 'Shipwrecked', but without the students and bikini bodies. I quite like Jeremy Clarkson's description of it as the 'poor mans Celebrity Love Island'.
The camp characters
Of the group, Jonathan, the camps character', quickly rose to the top of the obnoxious pile, the most argumentative Scottish person you could meet, not exactly the sort of guy you run into in normal society, let alone an island one, presumbly why he volunteered, clearly picked for the show for that reason. He quipped that 'eight out of ten strangers will hate him the moment he opens his gob and the other two just weren't listening'.
After a week of the mixed bunch getting settled in, intelligence seemed to lose out to egos as far as the pioneer spirit went, one chap quickly holing the main water tower on the opening day and then another chap breaking the only generator by day two.
The shows presenter was the rather stiff Danny Wallace, the comedy writer who does all the cult stuff. He was badly cast and looks silly with his jacket and casual slacks when confronting the castaways for the live TV slot. It's almost like suffering a stand-up comic dumped in the middle of nowhere with no material. In fact as the show pressed on it was looking more and more like a wannabe version of 'Im a Celebrity',. When did the BBC have a remit to ape ITV shows?
Dannys task was to confirm who the islanders had voted out of camp for being the laziest during the week as far as survivalist skills and community spirit goes, the first to go being a black guy, an ex con of Caribbean origin. From the edit we saw he clearly wasn't the laziest and for the black guy to be the first to be annexed from the group was all too familiar on these shows. Remember this wasn't a phone vote but a group decision.
I have to confess that due to the truncated nature of the weekly show, I pretty much gave up on this after episode two it was that bad. There really was no point to it, other than seeing people squabble with each other. I can do that at my local council estate. Its quite clear that if the castaways were given the option to vote anyone off then the obnoxious Scot would have gone early and the show would just wither away. But,somewhat ironically, the whole thing didnt go to plan and the community started to get on and make an actual go of it, not what the show wants, which was clearly the problem with this idea and one huge contradiction. They tried to engineer some sort of stunt to win back viewers but no luck and that's just what's wrong with this type of reality sh*te. New people arrived, ladened with bikinis, the only way to win back viewers
The weather started getting rough, the TV crew was tossed...if it wasn't for a faithful show the entertainment would be lost.