Island adventure is a must-see surprise

South Wales Argus: Bear Grylls The Island (6258003) Bear Grylls The Island (6258003)

SOME TV shows are just asking for a pummelling, as seemed the case with Channel 4’s latest reality show.

It practically offered its chin for a left hook with the fact it’s a C4 reality show, three words to send shivers down the spine.

Then the decrepit old format (bunch of strangers forced to live together) stuck out its tongue and blew a raspberry.

And by the time the host was mentioned, the whole thing was boasting of an unmentionable act with your mum.

Just one tiny detail, in fact, spares The Island With Bear Grylls from a pasting.

It’s a cracking TV series.

Thirteen ordinary men with only basic tools, their ingenuity and three television cameras must survive a month on a remote Pacific island.

The professionally outraged, naturally, cried sexism.

C4 boss Jay Hunt responded: “Women are absent not because they are incapable, but because they are so capable.”

No arguments from me.

Two episodes in, Grylls’ question: “Have British men lost the practical skills once passed down from father to son?” has been answered with an emphatic: “Damn right they have.”

Until the remarkable (and I hope not staged) capture and slaughter of a 5ft crocodile on Monday, this lot displayed all the hunting acumen of Elmer Fudd – ‘Be wery, wery qwuiet. We’re hunting stingway’.

Just like I’m A Celebrity..., the hungrier the camp mates, the better the viewing, bolstered by excellent casting.

Though there’s really only one star, 24-year-old call centre worker Ryan who entered bragging: “I did walk very far once with no shoes on, and that was very challenging.”

Hunger has made him a man. Pelicans practically mocking the camp with great beaks full of fresh fish have made him a TV hero.

He snapped after four days living off snails, grabbed a rock and said: “I’m going to kill one. Dean, wait. Be stealthy.”

And with that, Ryan tore off down the beach like Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire, hurled the rock à la Geoff Capes and... SPLASH!

The pelicans scarpered unharmed and lived to mock another day.

Which is more than you could say for Ryan who punched the sand in frustration and broke his knuckle, telling medic Sam: “I was annoyed with myself.”

“Were you annoyed with the sand as well?

“Well, I didn’t want to punch myself in a survival situation.”

Understated, superb dialogue like that is part of The Island’s charm, as is the fact Grylls’ only involvement is from afar as mister doom merchant: “Even though coconuts are a good source of energy and fluids, if it’s all you have, after three days it’s going to give you diarrhoea. And that’s going to dehydrate you further.”

I’ll start the conga now, shall I, Bear?

The real difference maker, though, is the absence of prize money. No minor celebrity rocks up each dusk to announce who’s been voted out.

It’s a back-to-basics reality show, like the original Shipwrecked.

Can’t quite remember whatever happened to that.

Ah yes. Now it comes to me. It was ruined when a certain broadcaster turned it into Big Brother. Now who’d do something like that?

This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes

Tony Hadley’s BBC Watchdog cameo.

Gabriel Byrne in Vikings, on History.

Graham Norton’s commentary and Poland’s buxom washboard wenches at Eurovision.

The look on Andi Peters’ face as he pulled out the name “Michal Foc” to play Good Morning Britain’s Wheel of Cash.

Mary the 4ft 11in jiu-jitsu martial artist flattening Matt Baker.

And, also on The One Show, Robbie Savage, playing for his old Sunday league side in a prosthetic disguise, leading with his elbow for a header, lunging in two-footed and letting himself down with his first touch. They recognised him instantly.

This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates

Dave channel failing to sign Kerry Katona and Martine McCutcheon for 24 Hours To Go Broke.

Good Morning Britain’s Ben Shephard swallowing ITV’s lie that it splurged £400,000 for “brilliant journalist” Susanna Reid, and not because she’s sexy.

This Morning’s Dr Ranj with expert medical guidance about chronic pain sufferer Mark Goddard who chopped off his hand with a homemade guillotine: “We wouldn’t ever recommend doing that.”

EastEnders’ delusion that a local paper has the money or inclination to pay £300 for an interview to slag off a murder victim. And Shirley failing to follow: “Come on in. Go straight through,” to Father Ted’s Mrs Doyle actress Pauline McLynn with: “Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on.”

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