‘Stranded’ vol­un­teers start a new life on Ard­na­mur­chan

The Oban Times - - The Oban Times & West Highland Times - MON­ICA GIB­SON mgib­son@oban­times.co.uk

TWENTY-THREE peo­ple have set­tled on Ard­na­mur­chan as part of a new TV show.

The group of vol­un­teers, aged 24 to 55, will have to sur­vive for 365 days in what Chan­nel 4 de­scribes as a re­mote cor­ner of the UK – or ‘left af­ter Acharachle’ to others.

The con­cept of the pro­gramme, en­ti­tled Eden, is to al­low the group to start from scratch: build shel­ter, cul­ti­vate the land and form a so­ci­ety among them­selves away from mo­bile phones, pol­i­tics and the in­ter­net.

Sup­pos­edly stranded on a 600-acre site, con­tes­tants will be cap­tured by 45 cam­eras, film­ing 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The first episode aired on Mon­day night and, while film­ing is ex­pected to con­tinue through­out the year, the ini­tial on­slaught showed the first three or so weeks since the group ar­rived.

On see­ing his new home for the year, An­ton, a row­ing coach, said: ‘It’s ab­so­lutely gor­geous. My job is to sur­vive for 365 days.’

Yoga in­struc­tor Jas­mine, 24, showed the cam­eras a toi­let cre­ated by the campers.

The fa­cil­i­ties didn’t seem quite to her usual stan­dard. How­ever, she said: ‘But I have this view and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.’

The se­ries is be­ing pro­duced by Lon­don-based KEO films whose ap­pli­ca­tion in 2015 to re­move pub­lic right of ac­cess in the Ard­na­mur­chan Es­tate caused con­tro­versy. Some peo­ple who live in the area were un­con­vinced they were was as ‘iso­lated’ as pro­gramme-mak­ers would like au­di­ences to be­lieve, while others were con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

The ap­pli­ca­tion was ap­proved by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and re­stric­tions on the area will con­tinue un­til spring 2017 but Brian Mur­phy, who is coun­cil­lor for the area, be­lieves most peo­ple have now come to terms with the idea.

Mr Mur­phy said: ‘At the time there were a few peo­ple who were un­happy about it but that was mainly due to the re­stric­tions. I think the ma­jor­ity who live in the area are quite happy about it now. It brings em­ploy­ment be­fore the pro­gramme be­gan and dur­ing and the hope is it sparks in­ter­est in the area and causes an in­flux for tourism.’

When asked if he could see him­self liv­ing ‘ Eden style’ he said laugh­ing: ‘Nope. Ab­so­lutely not.’

The show caused a re­ac­tion on­line with both lo­cals and for­eign­ers hav­ing their say.

On The Oban Times Face­book page Niall Gor­dan ad­mit­ted: ‘Per­son­ally I de­test this kind of pro­gramme ... never mind.’

Sylvia McKay said the show is de­scribed as another Cast­away – the pro­gramme filmed in the He­brides 17 years ago and which brought fame for Ben Fogle.

On the Eden page, Dan Kir­ton com­mented: ‘Stun­ning part of the world!’

Carlo Rug­giero asked where in Scot­land was this set – and he re­ceived dozens of replies, in­clud­ing one from Neil Mac-

The hope is it sparks in­ter­est in the area and causes an in­flux for tourism Brian Mur­phy coun­cil­lor

Len­nan who ex­plained: ‘A few miles from a baker’s, ho­tel, doc­tor’s surgery, loads of hol­i­day homes and a road full of tourists in camper­vans, about 15 miles from where I live.’

He added: ‘Turn left af­ter Achar­a­cle.’

Sue Brown, who runs a tea room close to the set, said: ‘I didn’t re­alise they were al­ready in when I was there at Easter. Just thought the set was be­ing com­pleted. I did marvel at the fence. Who­ever got that con­tract was laugh­ing.’

The strangers from all over the UK have to learn to live to­gether for a year.

Sup­pos­edly stranded in Ard­na­mur­chan, above, the con­tes­tants were given tools, seeds and live­stock to start them off.

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