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What's new about Survivor SA Maldives?

2011-02-23 15:18
1. A new director
Donald Clarke directed all three previous Survivor SA seasons, but this season he has been replaced by Warren Bleksley. The director sets the pace and builds the reality narrative as it plays out. Although a show like Survivor SA is very formulaic and set in game and progression parameters, every director sprinkles in their own vision and execution.

2. The island
This year the show takes place in the most southern part of the Maldives near India, close to the former military outpost Gan in the Addu Atoll and the thin, elongated island of Herathera. Although the setting is still tropical, it’s an altogether different environment with new bugs, new irritations and new vermin. This is also the first time any version of the Survivor franchise has been filmed in the Maldives.

3. Tribal council is in a hut
While the contestants rough it far away from civilisation, tribal council isn't really on an uninhabited island, although viewers might be led to believe that. The contestants are transported to tribal council which takes place in a hut-like structure with white sand on the floor at the far end of the very inhabited, four-kilometre-long Herathera island. They are blindfolded while being transported so that they do not see the tourists and the resort.

4. The celebrity dynamic
The kind of people who go on reality shows are most often people looking to up their profile. The same is true of Survivor SA. They might be socially unaware of their own behaviour and how it affects other people, but they're always aware that it will be filmed and that they will be on TV. This season of Survivor SA once again features celebs, but just like the previous season, they're not true A-listers. It's a given that viewers will go: "Who are these people?" Apparently everyone – the celebs as well as the plebs (as the ordinary contestants are being marketed) – are "trying to play and be like Ashley Hayden".

The social interaction and power dynamics are different in this unique setting. The ''famous'' enter the show with slightly bigger targets on their backs than the normal contestants. ''We are referring to the contestants as celebs and plebs mainly because of the way they are treated in the first episode,'' says M-Net's communications manager, Lani Lombard.

5. Bigger antics
In the world of reality TV, bigger is always better. Contestants are often both consciously and subconsciously aware that they're expected to perform. Drama! Tantrums! Minute altercations blown up into major fights! In Survivor SA Maldives rodents are caught, killed, roasted over the fire and eaten. ''It looked like cooked chihuahuas'' said Lombard. The rat meal takes place in the first episode as the celebs start losing it after just two days without food. 

Survivor SA Maldives airs on M-Net on Thursdays at 19:30 from 24 February 2011.

The fourth season of Survivor SA starts on M-Net and this year there are a few interesting changes to the set-up.
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