Swiss TV viewers captivated by modern Robinson Crusoe

Swiss television has pounced on a trend sweeping across Europe - reality shows. The private station TV3 is producing a second series of a hugely successful programme in which participants are dumped on a desert island, and left to fend for themselves.

This content was published on January 17, 2000 - 12:13

Swiss television has pounced on a trend sweeping across Europe - reality shows. The private station TV3 is producing a second series of its hugely successful programme, Expedition Robinson, in which participants are dumped on a deserted island, and left to fend for themselves.

The concept obviously appeals to the Swiss. No less than 3,500 people applied to take part in the new series. It is hard to imagine that so many people would voluntarily chose to spend up to seven weeks on a deserted island with a handful of strangers.

In the end, only 16 were chosen. They are now trying out their survival skills on one of Malaysia's idyllic islands in a bid to become "Robinson" of the year 2000.

The competitors not only compete against each other in a series of games, and
Quizzes, they must also survive in spartan conditions. The activities span shooting hoops with a coconut to building the best sandcastle.

At the end of each weekly show, the group singles out one of the participants, who must then leave the island. By the end of the series, only one person is left, and he or she wins the honour of being "Robinson", along with a prize of SFr100,000 francs.

The prize money may provide a clue about why so many people want to participate in "Expedition Robinson", by why has it been such a success among television viewers?

TV3's spokeswoman, Andrea Hemmi, thinks it is because viewers identify with those taking part. "People watching at home enjoy the programme because it lets them decide how they would resolve the challenges faced by the competitors."

Aged between 20 and 60, the participants come from all walks of life, and many are married with children. They all have one thing in common, though: they must pass a series of tough physical and psychological tests, if they are to be chosen.

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