Host hits the ground run­ning for this sea­son

The Southland Times - - TELEVISION -

The new Sur­vivor New Zealand se­ries was con­sid­er­ably harder on con­tes­tants than sea­son one, host Matt Chisholm says.

Chisholm watched 18 New Zealan­ders try to out­wit, out­play and out­last each other on is­lands in Lake Va­ji­ra­longkorn in west­ern Thai­land.

And from what he saw, Thai­land rep­re­sented a sig­nif­i­cant step up for New Zealand’s ver­sion of the pop­u­lar US re­al­ity for­mat.

In Sur­vivor, a group of cast­aways tries to sur­vive in an iso­lated, ex­otic lo­ca­tion. Ev­ery cou­ple of days a con­tes­tant is voted off by their peers in a Tribal Coun­cil cer­e­mony. Con­tes­tants can earn im­mu­nity from elim­i­na­tion by win­ning chal­lenges.

Chisholm says there were two key rea­sons this sea­son was harder on con­tes­tants.

One was the lo­ca­tion – Lake Va­ji­ra­longkorn in­tro­duced a kind of monotony to the game that was ab­sent from sea­son one, set on the change­able coast of Nicaragua.

‘‘[Nicaragua] was a much nicer lo­ca­tion, it was re­ally quite stun­ning,’’ says Chisholm. ‘‘Whereas sea­son two – on a lake, on an is­land and not re­ally much go­ing on – the out­look was pretty much the same ev­ery day. Re­ally, re­ally hot, you still had those creepy crawlies, but the out­look was pretty much the same ev­ery minute of ev­ery day.’’

The sec­ond el­e­ment mak­ing the game harder was the con­tes­tants them­selves. This year’s Sole Sur­vivor con­tenders at­tacked the game with a ruth­less­ness that was ab­sent from sea­son one.

The in­crease in prize money from $100,000 to $250,000 seemed to help make com­pe­ti­tion fiercer.

‘‘The con­tes­tants were a lot more cut-throat this sea­son and I think that was prob­a­bly be­cause there was a lot more rid­ing on it,’’ says Chisholm. ‘‘They’d seen Ki­wis play the game in sea­son one and I think there were con­scious de­ci­sions to rip into it and go a lot harder this year.’’

This sea­son, pro­duc­ers de­cided to ditch Re­demp­tion Is­land, which of­fered elim­i­nated con­tes­tants a way back into the game.

How­ever, hid­den im­mu­nity idols have been in­tro­duced, which con­tes­tants can use to pre­vent them­selves be­ing voted off.

‘‘I think that meant con­tes­tants were play­ing at a deeper level. They were al­ways think­ing, ‘Has some­one got a hid­den im­mu­nity idol in this tribe?’ and think­ing about how they strate­gi­cally cast their vote at tribal ... ‘I’m not here to make friends; I’m here for the quar­ter of a mil­lion bucks’ was pretty much how it went down.’’

Mak­ing Sur­vivor was un­doubt­edly tough on the con­tes­tants, but it was also hard for Chisholm, who holds down a day job as a re­porter for TVNZ’s Sun­day pro­gramme.

While in Nicaragua for sea­son one, he missed the birth of his first child. His wife Ellen was preg­nant with their sec­ond child while he was in Thai­land and, nat­u­rally, Chisholm wor­ried.

‘‘My wife was at home, very heav­ily preg­nant, with a lit­tle tod­dler. Lit­tle Bede was not mean­ing to but he was play­ing up.

‘‘He was teething, not sleep­ing and not eat­ing. So Mum was ex­hausted as well and there was noth­ing re­ally I could do away film­ing in Thai­land, so I felt quite pres­sured. Per­haps I wasn’t be­ing a good enough fa­ther be­cause I was 11,000km away from home,’’ he says.

How­ever, he found his du­ties as host a lit­tle eas­ier than the first time around. The first sea­son of Sur­vivor was Chisholm’s first host­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘I was go­ing in com­pletely blind, I had no idea how it all worked,’’ he says. ‘‘Sea­son two, I think it’s prob­a­bly fair to say that I hit the ground run­ning. I knew what I was there for and what I had to do.’’

What work­ing on sea­son one had not pre­pared him for, though, were the num­ber of blind­side elim­i­na­tions he saw this time.

‘‘If this sea­son be­comes known for any­thing, I would say it’ll be the blind­side sea­son. There are so many blind­sides from the start right through to the fin­ish of this show on a level that we sim­ply haven’t seen be­fore on Sur­vivor New Zealand.

‘‘So many peo­ple had no idea they were go­ing home. They felt re­ally safe, re­ally se­cure in their al­liances and their vot­ing blocks and what have you, and some king hit­ters just walked out the door, left the show, and had ab­so­lutely no idea. That was what con­sis­tently shocked me.’’

SUP­PLIED

Matt Chisholm hosts Sur­vivor New Zealand

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