When I first heard about Channel 5’s 10,000BC I wasn’t that interested because it was described as “20 people back to the Stone Age to take part in a social experiment.” I don’t have an interest at in the Stone Age era so it didn’t appeal to me. Had there been a promise of Dinosaur Hunting* I would have been reeled in from the start.
However, there was something about the promotional shots that looked like they’d been filmed in a Blair Witch style that had me wondering about. After all Celebrity Big Brother had just finished and I had a Reality TV gap to fill.
Before we go any further I’d like to discuss ‘Reality TV’ for a moment. I am old enough to have watched ‘Castaway 2000’ the founding father of British reality TV and a celebration of the new Millennium. Thirty-Six men. women and children, from a cross section of the British public were to build a community of a remote Scottish island in the Outer Hebrides.
They had to build a sustainable and self sufficient community from scratch. Similarly to 10,000bc some of the buildings were already there and some farm animals had been placed on location. They also received proper training from a survival expert (not just a DVD).
The goal was to ‘survive / live’ in this community for a full year. The difference in this reality show was that there was no supporting crew, the castaways had to film themselves.
Later that year came Big Brother and whilst I enjoyed Castaway 2000 I wasn’t a huge fan and I’m pretty sure that I didn’t watch it throughout year and I don’t think tuned in for the finale.
All the same, Big Brother had me hooked. A reality TV game show where there was a ‘winner’ at the end who won a cash prize.
To me reality TV back then was much more natural and pure. Of course there was still editing, the producers have to fit in 24 hours to a 1 hour episode but there was an opportunity to watch the live streaming 24/7 where you could hear and see everything. It was only a few series later that they added the bird twittering noise to the live feed sound, in fear of something labour being said.
The live feed was cancelled after series 9, they say because of poor ratings but the cynic says in me that they were struggling to to keep the BB in the popularity ratings and the only way to up the ante and increase the entertainment value is to ‘Edit’ events more dramatically. Finally the live streaming was axed too.
Editing in more drama was not a new thing. Back as early Castaway 2000 it was happening, so much so that Castaway Rob Copsey successfully sued the production company for going too far in their attempts in depicting drama for the show. It was found that a storyline in which he was said to have conflict with the rest of the community was in fact footage of him arguing with the producers.
Sadly I’m not as keen as I was on Reality TV especially since the creation of ‘Scripted Reality’, your TOWIE’s and Made In Chelsea. I can’t even watch those because rather that reality TV I view it as a parallel universe in which we get to see the ‘What Ifs’ happen. As for programmes like Celebrity Big Brother I find myself looking for slip ups in editing that show what’s really going on, instead of the manufactured story line we are all seeing.
When I write my overview blogs on these programmes it’s very difficult because I have to write what I see, after all you the reader wants to know what happened so that you can join in the water cooler gossip. That’s when I’ll sneak my sarky comments in so I still get my theory of what’s really going on across.
So back to 10,000bc and if the editing wasn’t clear in the beginning then it was by the time that Steve left and all of the sudden Mel appeared and slipped into the role. Having not been shown at all since the introductory show, Mel was suddenly there and knowing what to do.
I know from speaking with the tribe members via social media that this really narked them, not the Mel thing but what was shown in general. Especially those that left early. It was made out they just couldn’t hack it but when you hear the horror stories of the clothing and furs they given not to mention everything else you realise that this very quickly failed as a social experiment and became a reality show. The only winner at the end is the production company and Channel 5.
It was this that gave me the idea of asking the tribe members to share their side of the story / behind the scenes, not least because I think they all deserve some recognition for what they went through.
So following on from Thursday’s Q&A here are what some of the tribe said about the editing:
So much wasn’t shown. The first week I was literally walking around in pants that I had made from one of my tops that they’d provided as they wouldn’t give me trousers ! This meant I couldn’t do much as I kept cutting my legs open on thorn bushes etc and that’s the main reason I wasn’t allowed too far out.
One trip out I was not allowed to go due to not having trousers! To be honest their is so much to say that was left out.
People who wanted to leave were kept for at least 3 days, crying that they wanted to go home but the production would just keep trying different angles to convince people to stay.
For example at one point Kam asked to leave and she asked to speak to senior member of production as per the protocol. After waiting probably 7/8 hours (which to be honest was probably the quickest it took for a senior member of production to arrive!) She was taken to the vehicle that production had arrived in. They somehow convinced to “sleep on it”.
I remember when JP had made his decision to leave on a Friday and was told that production would have to speak to channel 5 as the whole experiment might have to be terminated. They were trying to make him feel guilty which just made him more upset. When he told Mike what production had said, Mike pulled production up on it but they it’d been taken out of context!
Apparently Channel 5 hadn’t got back to production that afternoon, so when JP asked what was happening the next morning, which was a Saturday, he was told Channel 5 were closed for the weekend!
JP continued asking what was going on, on Monday and then finally late Tuesday he was told he could finally leave after 4 days. Not long after JP told me he’d finally been told he could leave, I can still remember him telling me that different members of the production crew had been trying to make him feel guilty for wanting to walk, whilst others were trying to convince him to stay.
JP told me he was definitely leaving that afternoon and he had been he would have to give a speech to the remaining members before he was taken off into the woods by several members of staff. He returned to give his leaving speech and then half way through he became very upset. He started saying he wasn’t going to quit and would finish the experience no matter what.
A couple of the tribe weren’t very happy as they had become annoyed that JP kept changing his mind and perhaps had, had got excited about gaining his rations, furs and the possibility they would get more “exposure” in the show as he was taking up a lot of the “camera time” due to his journey he had expressed.
JP ended up staying and although I believe he gained so much from the experience, I’m not sure he would have stayed had he been allowed to leave that Friday. By the time he was finally allowed to leave that following Tuesday there was only 10 days left which to us seemed so much closer to the end than 2 weeks had!
It had stated in our contract that we would be free to leave as soon as we said we wanted to go. There was not one person that was “allowed to leave” as soon they asked. The production team were not organised and I think they all knew it, I think if Channel 5 really knew how they were dealing with the experience they wouldn’t have commissioned the show or possibly used a different production company, this was also the opinion of some of the film crew involved, in the show, as I heard on two separate occasions members of the crew discussing it!
No training was given initially but we were told we would receive a DVD that would give us some training. This arrived just 3 days before we were due to fly out, and the DVD was really not that helpful. It showed an expert making a bow drill fire. This made it look so easy but it’s impossible unless you have an expert with you showing you how to do it. Even then, on the day it took 3 hours and the experts still had to intervene. It just all seemed so rushed and poorly planned.
We were set up to fail. When we’d go ‘hunting’ we would have to give 24 hours notice to the crew and then there would be about a minimum of 5 people following us. The crew would just chat among themselves and make loads of noise. There was never going to be a chance that we would catch anything.
The only day we got close which was in episode 8 when JP happened to run up on 4 boar, at dusk.
Rangers apparently intervened. JP was told he could not shoot at the boars as it was too dangerous for the even the rangers, who were holding pump action shot guns, let alone try to make a kill with a bow and arrow.
We were told the best time to hunt, by them, was at dusk which is exactly when we’d gone hunting! One of rangers said the previous day, he shot a boar 7 times with a shotgun and the boar still kept running off. It was clear from then on we wouldn’t go hunting again.
The rangers had said to you have about 0.0000000001% chance of even hitting a boar with that arrow” and all we needed to do is graze a boar with the arrow and the ranger will then shoot it and that would count as a kill. This might sound easy but we never had a chance.
All the fun footage was cut out and they made a real mess of the edit. They used things that had happened at the beginning and then edited into the some of the last episodes. For instance, if someone was having a disagreement about something they’d do that interview, you saw, with us in the woods alone. The interview they’d use in the episode might of been one from 3 weeks before the disagreement even took place; and be about something completely different but was used to look like it was about that disagreement.
Viewers might not have realised but if you look carefully you’ll realise people’s hair is shorter, no beard growth (or vice versa earlier in the series).
In the last week we had to do loads of individual interviews and they would ask us to go back and pretend we were in week 1,2,3 etc and ask us about a certain situation and push us to say certain things that we may not have wanted to.
A lot of the drama was fabricated was all fabricated.
*I am aware, History fans, that the Dinosaurs lived in a completely different era