It wasn’t just the case who were broken during filming of Australian Survivor, but the crew too.
Production in Charters Towers, Queensland, was completed late last year but according to host Jonathan LaPaglia it was unexpectedly punishing.
“This season again gives you a slightly different look. But the biggest issue for us really was the weather,” he tells TV Tonight.
“The temperature was just brutal. I thought Cloncurry was bad. But wow. This was next level. 20 minutes in that heat and my brain just stops thinking. In fact, it was so hot this season that we had several players collapse in challenges and several crew go down as well.”
“It all adds up to something that’s going to be pretty spectacular”
Blood v Water is 10’s second season filmed in Australia following COVID and border restrictions. Last season’s Brains v Brawn series in Cloncurry embraced a dusty look, and while this season is still 90 minutes from the Queensland coastline, there is a shift in the landscape.
“You can definitely see the influence of more water… there’s rivers, creeks, billabongs, bodies of water and definitely more vegetation. It’s still very rugged terrain for the players but it all adds up to something that’s going to be pretty spectacular,” he continues.
24 contestants include new and returning players of partners, siblings, parents & children who are bonded by ‘blood’ (in-laws are the most extreme variation) including Season 2 contenders Mark Wales and Sam Gash, ex-NRL Michael Crocker and his sister in-law Chrissy Zaremba. They are joined by US Survivor champion Sandra Diaz and daughter Nina Twine.
“She didn’t try and force her way of playing”
While previous seasons have seen US cast voted out early -and even Sandra voted out early in a third US attempt- LaPaglia insists she is taking nothing for granted.
“She’s the queen of Survivor, so there’s nowhere to hide. She won it twice, so she wasn’t immune to that pressure. She was definitely targeted from the get-go,” he explains.
“However, Sandra is a very, very savvy player. Her great power in this game, I think, is being able to read the room and she does extremely well. She adapts to what’s in front of her. She didn’t try and force her way of playing, or the American way of playing. She took a back seat, she observed, and she used that to ingratiate herself into the Aussie tribemates. She does well, because of it. I think she’s a very, very clever player.”
“I think Australians are less comfortable with that”
So how does the American way of playing the game differ from Australian?
“I think the US just culturally are very comfortable about talking about everything, psycho-analysing everything. I think Australians are less comfortable with that. That’s probably the biggest difference that I’ve observed between the two countries,” he continues.
“The US show has evolved, you know, 40+ seasons. It’s a very aggressive game right out of the gate. The Australian game, we get there, but it takes us a bit of time to ramp up. I just don’t think we’re quite at that pace. So I think there are definitely differences to the culture and the way the game is played and she was cognisant of that. She didn’t come in with that kind of arrogance thinking she was gonna bend everyone else to her will.
“In Australia, ‘mate-ship’ is a big part of the culture”
“In Australia, ‘mate-ship’ is a big part of the culture. We saw that, particularly in the early seasons of Australian Survivor. It’s becoming less-so but it’s still there, because it’s still part of the Australian fabric. So all those things add up to differences between the two games. It’s kind of subtle, I guess.”
Australian Survivor may run its own race locally, but it still looks to the US blueprint too. LaPaglia acknowledges that this season follows suit with the US in adjusting the language “Come on in guys!” to “Come on in.”
Yet there are even Aussie challenges which have been adopted by the Jeff Probst juggernaut.
“We have a pretty talented Challenge department. Every season they are given the task of coming up with bigger, more difficult, more interesting challenges. They do come up with some creative, new stuff,” says LaPaglia.
“The highest form of flattery”
“Certainly the first season or two we were really falling back on the US playbook. We still do some of the US ones, but they really are trying to invent new stuff every season. A couple of those, or elements, have made their way into the US show which is kind of the highest form of flattery.
One that comes to mind was a round track they had to roll a ball around. We’ve done it a couple of times. That was an Aussie invention and the US have used it. But there have definitely been a couple.”
“I can’t imagine the show without Jeff”
Both fan and host of the format, would LaPaglia ever be interested in hosting the US series, should Jeff Probst decide at 41 seasons he is done? Of course.
“Oh, sure. But I can’t imagine the show without Jeff, can you?” he laughs.
First things first. 10’s Blood v Water season is the focus, and he is hoping despite the heated competition it will still draw an audience.
“We’re going up against MAFS and The Voice, so we’ll see how loyal that audience is. They tend to be. Hopefully they are again.”
Australian Survivor begins 7:30pm Monday January 31 on 10.