CLASS WAR ON THE IS­LAND OF LOST SOULS

No one wins when Bear Grylls pits poshos against pro­les

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - TELEVISION REVIEWS - JEN­NIFER GANNON

Bear Grylls has re­turned to The Is­land, aban­don­ing an­other group of al­pha-avengers and smug marathon-run­ning self-im­provers on an un­in­hab­it­able Pa­cific Ocean isle in a non­sen­si­cal “fight for sur­vival”.

What is sup­posed to be an en­gag­ing so­cial ex­per­i­ment is a night­mar­ish, month-long team-build­ing ex­er­cise. Where in­stead of the mild peril of some­one slip­ping af­ter too many lunchtime wines there is the real dan­ger that some­one could ac­tu­ally die be­cause Su­san from ac­counts didn’t wash out the back­end of a blow­fish prop­erly. The point­less en­durance test is usu­ally dom­i­nated by those who live by the tire­some “work hard, play hard” maxim – it’s The Ap­pren­tice with dysen­tery.

This se­ries is billed as a “class war”, with those earn­ing more than £100k rub­bing up against those who earn less than the av­er­age wage. The idea be­ing that con­tes­tants will morph into sit­com-style clichés, the poshos with­er­ing away with­out a wine list and the pro­les tear­ing up at the thought of a take­away as the li­p­less Grylls ob­serves them spout­ing use­less pop psy­chol­ogy.

“It was like a North­ern dole bus had bro­ken down,” guf­faws ruf­fled-haired rich-boy Barnes af­ter he catches sight of his co­hab­iters for the first time. They balk at the idea of hav­ing to share any­thing – whether it be shel­ter or food – but when rib­ald re­cep­tion­ist Mercedes and New­cas­tle nurse Laura man­age to get a fire started, they are war­ily wel­comed like help­ful ser­vants.

This rel­a­tive har­mony is bro­ken when the tired crew shuf­fle off to the com­mu­nal shel­ter, leav­ing the monied group shiver­ing un­der the stars for the night. A split be­tween the camps is de­cided upon in the morn­ing, with wide-boy Phil happy to leave the posh set be­hind com­plain­ing “they have no team spirit” and ac­cus­ing them of the ul­ti­mate sin of be­ing “low on bants”. As he and the gang frolic in the sea, the af­flu­ent side scut­tle about dis­man­tling their lodg­ings and mak­ing off with ev­ery­thing use­ful, leav­ing un­em­ployed Sammy scream­ing at the sky about the “thiev­ing rich” like a drunk Marx­ist un­der­grad­u­ate.

Things are far from idyl­lic for the poshos though. With morale melt­ing un­der the sun, lec­turer James heads on a scav­enger hunt as the rest go fish­ing. Re­turn­ing empty-handed, they look to ec­cen­tric James to have sourced some ed­i­ble wildlife, but in­stead he presents the group with a half-empty bot­tle of Lilt that had washed up on the shore. Hav­ing been un­fairly rounded on by the team, he man­ages to re­deem him­self by stab­bing a snake in the head, prov­ing his worth like a cat gift­ing its owner with a dead mouse.

As the two fac­tions turn on them­selves and each other, the only happy out­come that could unite them in class­less com­rade­ship is if they re­volt, sac­ri­fice Grylls to the Sun God and use his corpse as a hu­man ca­noe to es­cape. That would be a rev­o­lu­tion worth tele­vis­ing.

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