All that’s missing is the cuddly toy. Survivor (BBC1), the Beeb’s all-or-nothing assault on the primetime audience ratings, combines so many gameshows and reality formats, it’s downright unreal.
This is Big Brother meets Bear Grylls’ The Island, meets Total Wipeout and Gladiators, meets I’m A Celebrity, meets The Traitors, all packaged up to resemble It’s A Knockout in the Caribbean.
On top of that, comedian Joel Dommett is bouncing around like Murray Walker on a Spacehopper, commentating breathlessly on every splash and tumble.
Though it’s called Survivor, this is not a survival show. The 18 contestants, split into two teams and marooned on a pair of beaches on a paradise island, don’t have to fish or forage for their supper.
Instead, they compete in a series of boisterous challenges, some of which make entertaining viewing… while others are messy and dull.
In BBC 1’s Survivor, 18 contestants split into two teams and marooned on a pair of beaches on a paradise island, don’t have to fish or forage for their supper
At the end of each episode, players in the losing team nominate rivals who have let them down, and one gets eliminated. That’s two more classic formats plundered — The Weakest Link and The Apprentice. Don’t be shocked if Paul Hollywood arrives by helicopter, later in the series, to judge a cake-baking round!
Bottle opener of the weekend Hiding out in a garden shed, Shelton and Leah (Bobby Gordon and Rochelle Neil) found a crate of cider, in Three Little Birds (ITV1). Shelton bit the cap off one and boasted he got his jaw strength from curried goat. That’s some tough goat.
The best of the games sounds the least promising. The players each had to haul up a 50lb weight, suspended on a rope from a pulley, and hold it for as long as possible. That’s all there was to it, but since the first half of the show had been all running, swimming and jumping around, the static nature of this challenge gave us a chance to assess the players more clearly.
Two of the women could barely drag their weights aloft, but it was one of the men, Richard, a 36-year-old RAF reservist, who quit first… though he claimed he had slipped. He duly became the first to be kicked out.
With the players stripped to beach wear in the 37C heat, Joel was making a lot of appreciative comments about the bodies on show — though not about the women, obviously. That would be sexist and demeaning. It’s all right to leer at men, though.
When personal trainer Nathan and 6’4′ Doug poured oil over themselves, before a wrestling match in the sand, Joel crowed that he felt like he was ‘backstage at a bodybuilding contest’ — and the girls were whooping and whistling like scaffolders with a view of a nudist camp.
There were almost no males at all to be seen in Time (BBC1), writer Jimmy McGovern’s prison drama which this time has an all-female cast.
Jimmy McGovern’s prison drama Time on BBC1 has an all-female cast
Jodie Whittaker, in her first major role since leaving Doctor Who, stars as single mum Orla, who is shattered to find herself serving a six-month prison sentence for theft. Within the first hour of this three-part serial, she has lost her freedom, her job, her house and her three children, who are taken into foster care.
We are meant to feel angry at the injustice of this. My chief feeling was one of frustration and dislike for Orla, who was so confident the courts would let her off with a slapped wrist that she didn’t even bother making arrangements for a friend to look after her kids.
She kept claiming that all she’d done was ‘fiddle the leccy’ — that is, cheat on her electricity payments, as though she’d been feeding pesetas instead of sixpences into the meter. Believe that, and you’ll believe that the gangs on mass shoplifting raids are forced into it against their principles, to put a scrap of food on the table.
Gritty and violent, Time depicts prison life as horrible . . . as if that’s something to be deplored. Isn’t jail meant to be a punishment?