Did we like it?
It passed an hour reasonably well, but even though this was the ‘original’ reality show we can’t help but feel a bit jaded by these kinds of programmes, even though this contains some interesting characters and some scientific aspects which other reality shows have long since abandoned.
Presentation and Style
• Danny Wallace is a slightly odd choice to present this show. We don’t have anything against him, but he did feel rather like a male Davina McCall with just a smidgen more wit than his witch-like counterpart. His script, creaking under the sheer weight of cliches and platitudes that had been crammed in, did him no favours.
• We can’t remember whether Castaway in 2000 used the device of a scrambled screen to divide the actual action from the links by the presenter, but they did use it here and it felt like a naked Big Brother rip-off.
• Interestingly, this style could have been jettisoned quickly because Wallace’s links were almost universally pointless exercises where he just repeated everything the viewer had just watched in the last five minutes, as if all viewers have the memory of a shrimp.
• We did like the grand sweeping camera movements, especially over the glistening sea.
• We also enjoyed the way all the Castaways were literally washed ashore on the New Zealand islands, with underwater cameras adding to the sense of a sort of re-birth.
Francie, 56: The noisy posh motherly figure from Oxford. She wore a t-shirt with “mischief” scribbled on it, but she clearly liked the idea of mischief more than the act of being mischievous. We expect her role in the group to increase as time passes and she will erode Jonathan’s domination over time.
Reminds us of: 70% Linda Bellingham as the OXO Mum, 20% Margot from The Good Life, 10% Clarissa Dickson-Wright.
Alister, 24: Described himself as an unpublished fantasy novel author. Which makes him no different to the vast majority of the rest of the population. He was rather introspective on the island, possibly to deflect attention from his extraordinary body mass that led Francie to believe he was a manatee when he tumbled ashore. His attitude when the second group arrived was a little harsh as well: “We’ll give you what we’ve got… that’s spare,” he mumbled. Clearly, here’s a man who truly knows how to work a buffet table.
Reminds us of: Well, he looks like comedian Richard Herring after a lot of binge-eating, but his character is the Comic Book Guy off The Simpsons, only without the occasional sharp, sardonic wit.
Erica, 22: The obligatory reality-show lapdancer chosen in the hope that she’ll wear skimpy scanties and provide some loose morals. Unfortunately, after a spirited introductory piece where she went on and on about how she doesn’t like people who judge people, confusingly adding: “Judge me and I’ll judge you back,” she disappeared and barely said a word for the rest of the show. Will certainly be an object of fantasy for posh boy Alasdair, while Erica and Hassan might well get cosy later.
Reminds us of: 35% Danielle Lloyd, 35% Jodie Marsh, 30% Kerry Katona. Christ, that’s harsh, sorry.
Jonathan, 42: Comfortably the most annoying person on the show. Arrogant, insecure and a control freak to boot, we can only assume he wanted to take part to demonstrate to the whole country and all those nasty people from his schooldays just how clever he is. He treated us to such divine pieces of observational comedy as: “Why do only fat people drink diet Coke?” Who does he think he is? The Curious Orange? Feels threatened by Ken, the demented ex-marine.
Reminds us of: John Gordon Sinclair’s squatter, uglier, less successful, less talented, very bitter little brother.
Clare, 23: The young conservative who loves Margaret Thatcher and says everyone is a Tory deep down: “Everyone believes in family values,” she argues, without explaining what that idiosyncratic phrase actually means or pointing us in the direction of the political parties that campaign against family values. And she wonders why the Tories haven’t been in power for a decade. Sported ill-advised clumps of blue eye shadow in her introduction and still used the word ‘trendy’. And she wonders why the Tories haven’t been in power for a decade. Once on the island she was immediately at loggerheads with Jonathan as they struggled to claim control of the group. And she wonders why the Tories haven’t been in power for a decade. Displayed her admirable Tory credentials when the second group of Castaways arrived and she voiced fears they would nick ‘their’ bedding and/or food – ‘comin’ over ‘ere, stealing our jobs and taking advantage of our welfare’ etc and so forth. And she wonders why the Tories haven’t been in power for a decade.
Reminds us of: A young, female Alan B’Stard.
Jason, 37: An unemployed former drug addict from Dover in Kent who has a second chance in life after almost dying. Fairly likeable overall as long as he doesn’t continue as he started and constantly harp on about his former life. Looks like he’ll work hard for the group but might eventually snap and give Jonathan a kicking.
Reminds us of: Zammo off Grange Hill 20 years later.
Alasdair, 19: The posh totty for the women; Ben Fogle without the charm. He was introduced doing a bizarre dance in wellies in a pig sty and an embarrassing rap. Called himself the “Self-deprecating King of the Ladies” without a trace of irony and was insistent about his heterosexuality. That could develop interestingly. Stripped off with a flourish to swim out to the second lot of Castaways but the bombast he showed early on disappeared as the prospect of three months with this motley crew suddenly dawned him. He’s a long way from boarding school now. Could hit it off with Clare and will probably fancy Lucinda.
Reminds us of: 40% Ben Fogle, 30% Matt Dawson, 10% Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, 10% Bertie Wooster, 10% Will Young.
Lucinda, 27: Lucinda believes that all men look at her dream of spending the night with her. But she also admits to being rather insecure. She arrived on the island and immediately took the role of the baby of the group, expressing a desire to be friends with everyone and was desperate to please. She could turn into quite a sweet character, but we suspect it all might be a bit much for her frail personality. Another one wanting to ‘find herself’ – a meaningless phrase that belongs in trite novels like Are You Experienced? She may get together with Hassan.
Reminds us of: The looks of Kirsten Dunst, with dashes of Chantelle Houghton and Suzanne Shaw chucked in.
Joe, 33: An occupational therapist who was at pains to say how ’emotional’ he was. We’re not sure if that’s code for being gay, but we’re fairly certain he is because otherwise the producers would not have ensured that Gemma’s comments about not mixing with gay people were left in. His touchy-feely nature might grate satisfyingly against the alpha male personalities also on the island.
Reminds us of: Gareth Gates having a mid-30s life crisis.
Ken, 65: “A man must have a knife, it’s a fact of life,” says the former Royal Marine. We respect anyone who has been excellent enough to be a marine, and this bloke here was about as good-a caricature as you’d be likely to find – a man in his mid-60s desperate to prove he can still hack it in the wilds. Gave a hilarious speech to rally the troops after dinner where he thought he was bringing his years of experience to bear, only to find most of his advice had already been implemented. Could go two ways – could become a nightmare to live with or soften up a bit and become a father-figure to the group.
Reminds us of: 20% Captain Mainwaring, 20% Windsor Davies, 20% Pub Landlord, 40% Gunnery Sgt. Hartman off Full Metal Jacket.
Hassan, 24: Non-practising muslim from Suffolk. A construction worker by trade, Hassan immediately ingratiated himself to the group by breaking their water tank and allowing litres of water to run free. His bombast and lack of contrition for this was fairly startling. However, once his guard is inevitably broken down we suspect he could become a vital member of the island and an entertaining one, too. Could become very popular with a couple of the women as well.
Reminds us of: 20% Rocky Balboa, 10% Frank Spencer, 10% The Rock in his WWE days, 60% every posturing male that’s ever entered Big Brother boasting about how they’ll be the alpha male of the group.
Gemma, 21: Gemma defines herself by the people she doesn’t like: stuck up people, posh people, gays and lesbians. She’s going to have an interesting time on the island. Showed little personality or intelligence during her appearance this week but seemed arrogant and defensive, therefore clearly afraid, when she first arrived. She does seem keen to broaden her horizons, however, and this trip could become genuinely life-changing for her.
Reminds us of: Jade Goody – and clearly put there for exactly that purpose.
Wendie, 45: Yet another person recruited from inside the M25, Wendie is a mother to four and a carer to her mother. Which makes us wonder how her family will cope while she’s away for three months. Still, entertainment comes first. The only person on the island leaving young children behind, she may really struggle. Looks unfit and will take time to adapt.
Reminds us of: Pauline Fowler in the 80s with a dash of Pauline Quirke in Birds of a Feather for good measure