Channel 5 have started showing 10000BC – a social experiement (buzzword alert!) where they take 20 modern humans back to the Stone Age. Abandoned for two months with a little bit of tuition in the forests of Bulgaria, they’re stripped of anything that wouldn’t have existed after 10000BC to see if humans can adapt to survive in such primitive conditions. There have to be a few nods to modern life, our feet are no longer the hardy tools they once were, so they’re all given boots to wear. But aside from that, it’s all animal pelts to wear, yurts to live in and forests to forage.
I really wanted to like this show, but I’m disappointed by it. All it did was remind me about how Survivor is a much better show than 10000BC, and make me think that the a UK channel should really think about recommissioning Survivor. Why am I saying this?
10000BC is Survivor without the fun.
The first two episodes of 10000BC have been showing you the hardships of camp life, and how difficult day to day living is. It feels quite oppressive that they’re going to do this for two months, winter is coming (GoT alert!) and essentially it seems all misery and no hope (although poo-gate was an interesting diversion).
The first two episodes of a series of Survivor will also show you the hardships of camp life, but they’ll also show you challenges pitting the tribes against each other and tribal councils where people will get voted off.
There’s a massive difference here, in that Survivor has three different ‘strands’ it can focus on, 1 – The immunity and reward challenges, 2 – the socio-political game of camp-mates trying to ensure they’re not the next voted off, and 3 – the hardships of camp life. Different episodes and seasons of Survivor will have different amounts of time devoted to each strand, but essentially the action can always be broken up by visiting another strand. 10000BC doesn’t have that. It’s all survival all the time, and I think it’s much worse for it. There’s no escape for the viewers from the single strand in 10000BC of the hardship that they’re facing.
Another point is that in Survivor, there are rewards given out for winning challenges, it gives the Survivors hope and mixes up the experience that they’re having. Unless some weird format point comes up in 10000BC in future episodes, there’s nothing for the 10000BC camp-mates to look forward to that they don’t catch or work bloody hard to get.
The premise of Survivor makes it clear that there are medical teams and various crews all around the Survivors (but not interfering). 10000BC is making more of a claim that “they’re roughing it on their own” but we saw in Episode 1 the crew had to supply the camp-mates with blankets and in Episode 2 they had to consult the crew about whether they could eat a particular animal. (OK, fair play, at least they showed interactions with the crew, but I thought the point was to be back in 10000BC.)
Also in Survivor, there’s a point to the entire show. I’m not saying 10000BC is completely pointless, as finding out if we can live with primitive tools is an interesting question, but in Survivor the aim is to outlast the other Survivors, and there’s a prize at the end. There’s a progression throughout the series and you can also take sides on which tribe or individual you want to win. With 10000BC, it’s more of a case of “one-in, all-in”, as they’re all striving to survive you can’t really take sides. Maybe that’ll change in future episodes, but to me it feels like the point of the show is for ALL of them to live in 10000BC conditions together, not some-people-live-better-than-others in 10000BC.
I have other points too. The colour palette in 10000BC is mostly green and brown (due to the nature of the show), Survivor is colouful because of the production and tribal colours. 10000BC is in a forest that’s about to get very cold, Survivor is in (usually) a tropical paradise and even though it’s hell for them out there it looks pretty to watch because it’s somewhere that we’d probably like to go on holiday. I don’t want to go to a cold snowy forest in Bulgaria for a holiday, I’m definitely a summer guy.
I reckon that a decade ago 10000BC would have been a hit. Castaway on the Scottish Islands was a hugely popular year long social experiment (buzzword alert!) and I reckon this follows in similar footsteps. But now UK audiences are after something a bit edgier – just look at the evolution of Big Brother in the UK from the placid popularity contest in 2000 to the hugely conflict driven manipulative show in 2015. 10000BC is 10 years too late.
Survivor UK wasn’t perfect. Series 2 didn’t have enough contestants, and neither of the hosts were particularly good. One of the criticisms of Survivor back in 2001-2002 was that some of the people playing the game were dishonest. The winner of the first series was dubbed a harlot for her tactics on the show and made front page headlines, but look, people were taking sides in the issue! The UK didn’t quite ‘get’ Survivor when it was initially aired, but now the scene has changed. We’ve now also had Shipwrecked, and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here has in some series become exceedingly close to the Survivor format. So why haven’t we bought it back yet?! Given the trend to recommission old shows recently, surely this must be a look in.
I know that Survivor and 10000BC are aimed at different genres, but I just feel 10000BC could be so much better. This is why I reckon Survivor should be recomissioned in the UK. It’s about to start it’s THIRTIETH SEASON in the United States, and it’s still doing well. 30 series. Over 440 episodes at time of writing. That’s phenomenal. The scenery, the weather, the characters, the epic challenges, it makes Survivor a great show. Bring it back to the UK, and I reckon it’ll be a hit.
Survivor is 10000BC with added spice!
Please, bring back Survivor. Give it a try. And I’m always around to help design the challenges. I’d be good at that.