GREAT­EST GAME IS BACK

‘Sur­vivor South Africa’ re­turns with a vengeance, writes Liam Karabo Joyce

Saturday Star - - CELEB -

THE re­turn of Sur­vivor South Africa was met with much an­tic­i­pa­tion. Now into the sec­ond episode of the se­ries’ sixth sea­son that was filmed ear­lier this year in The Philip­pines, we caught up with host Nico Pana­gio.

Pana­gio, who has hosted the show since sea­son 3 and is a house­hold name in many South African homes, also con­sid­ers him­self a Sur­vivor su­per­fan. We last saw you on Sur­vivor South Africa in 2014, what have you been up to?

When I’m not on screen, I am hus­tling! Since the last sea­son of Sur­vivor, I’ve been in a few big screen fea­tures, hosted Top Billing and The In­tern. In be­tween, I have been writ­ing, pro­duc­ing and trail run­ning. What prompted the re­turn of

South Africa?

The pro­duc­ers of the show are huge fans of the for­mat and, with them, many of us who have worked on Sur­vivor, have been dream­ing about bring­ing Sur­vivor back for years.

Han­drie Bas­son (ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer) and Ler­oux Botha (se­ries di­rec­tor) have been in­volved with pro­duc­tion on all sea­sons of Sur­vivor South Africa. When the op­por­tu­nity arose to pro­duce the show un­der their own com­pany, Afrokaans, they grabbed it. This team has taken it to the next level. Sur­vivor We have come to know you as the face of Sur­vivor since sea­son 3, but why did you ac­cept be­ing host again?

To be the host is a rare priv­i­lege. We get to live in­side the show as it un­folds in real time, an­other rare priv­i­lege. We get a raw, in­ti­mate per­spec­tive of an in­cred­i­ble show. This sea­son is 39 days, how many days did you spend on set?

I spent about seven weeks (49 days) on the is­land. Upon ar­rival, we im­me­di­ately start with the prepa­ra­tion of the lo­ca­tions and games. We also shoot pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial and do press in­ter­views. Then, about a week later, it is gameon for 39 days of con­stant film­ing. What are some of the el­e­ments you as the host have had to deal with this sea­son?

Work­ing for long hours in the trop­i­cal heat and re­lent­less sun beat­ing down on you all day. Deal­ing with the lo­cal dan­gers, be they deadly sea snakes or fall­ing co­conuts. Crazy trop­i­cal in­sects that bite. Then we also have long hours of work, sleep de­pri­va­tion and miss­ing home.

How­ever, we al­ways say if you have a shower, air­con and a bed to come home to every night, that is 5-star com­pared to what those poor con­tes­tants have to en­dure. In your time on Sur­vivor, what’s been the worst ac­ci­dent or in­jury you have seen?

The most fright­en­ing in­jury hap­pened to Vanessa San­des (then Hay­wood) when she in­jured her neck on a huge sus­pended net chal­lenge in the Mal­dives. Sadly, she had to leave the game. What sets Sur­vivor South Africa: Philip­pines apart from pre­vi­ous sea­sons?

We got a cast of in­cred­i­ble, feisty, sassy and wily char­ac­ters that hit the ground run­ning. This cou­pled with a full 39 days on the is­land makes for grip­ping en­ter­tain­ment, but also el­e­vates the se­ries to world class stan­dards. What is the one thing you are ex­cited about this sea­son?

Apart from the cast­aways who bring their all, we also have a spec­tac­u­lar lo­ca­tion this sea­son and ev­ery­where you look is a

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