I love The Island with Bear Grylls.
I’m not a massive Bear Grylls fan, what with his ironed shirts and volcanic lava jumping next to a main road (look it up on Youtube – debunking Bear), more of a Mears man myself, only a true explorer and adventurer like Ray could squash himself so uncomfortably into such tight khaki shorts. But I love Bear’s Island programme.
Two groups of men and women are dropped on a small-ish tropical island with some basic fire training and tools and a few cans of water and told to get on with it. No phones, maps, magnifying glasses, bottled water, takeaway meals. Nothing like that. They’re expected to survive for seven days on wet beaches, crumbling rock faces and dense jungle. It makes for compulsive viewing.
It’s like I’m A Celebrity without the celebrities and the fake jungle TV studio. You can normally tell how watchable a programme is by how good the live tweets are and #TheIsland hashtag had me in tears an hour after the show finished last night. Read them after the show, it works better that way. It leaves you with both hands and eyes free to watch a load of ordinary people poisoning themselves with stagnant lagoon water or having a breakdown after a twenty yard swim to a desert island beach. The speed in which some people collapse away from civilisation is amazing. We’re talking hours here. Real nature fear.
I’m not sure what the premise is beyond ‘lets get a bloke from a phone shop and take him away from his Segway and make him cry on a beach’ but it works. Like great reality shows it has the ‘I could do that/could I do that?’ factor. There’s also the classic 'enjoying other people being uncomfortable' factor. And this year fans of swearing will be pleased to find out the women’s group seem to be on some sort of sponsored ‘fuck!’athon.
Using real people makes it more interesting than ‘celebrities’, it’s much more interesting listening to a woman with a prosthetic leg talking about her time in the army than some topless model talking about a photoshoot.
The big gutter is you’ve got to wait a week to watch the next episode, and also some of the contestants are tweeting so that rules them out of actually dying on The Island.
Some of them are really up against it in the conditions but they’ve added a chef and a doctor. This week the doctor taking part said it was OK to drink water you couldn’t even see your hand through. This lead to half the women rolling around the beach throwing up. To which the doctor advised drinking more of the mucky stagnant water. They’re in safe hands.