HBO Commissioned Game of Thrones Embroidered Artwork

Game of Thrones Season 5 was released on DVD this week (15/03) and HBO have commissioned a number of unusual pieces to market it.

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At Central St. Martins Crossing Gallery, a two minute walk from Kings Cross & St Pancras, there is a huge (6m x 4m!) Embroidered piece. The main feature being the imposing figure of the White Walker that looks as if it is stepping out of the artwork.

The most impressive work, for me, is to be found in the outer border which is made up of 36 individually handcrafted replicas of the 9 Game of Thrones family crests.

These pieces came into being from the hard work of various needlecraft communities, across the UK, that worked together as a collective. The Embroiderer’s Guild, Royal School of Needlework , Fine Cell Work Long Term Prisoners and Hand & Lock Design Room.

One of the women involved was Sophy Johnson, 30, an Embroiderer’s Guild member from Medway. She was commissioned to re-create the squid like Greyjoy family crest.

The brief for the whole piece was simple – Cold Medieval and the family crests are very much in keeping. Stitchers were limited to the frosty colours of yarn that they were supplied with but given a free hand in the how they used the colour scheme for their design.

As the stitchers came from all over the UK there was no opportunity to compare work as it progressed. This adds to the richness of the piece, as no two pieces are the same despite each family crest appearing four times. Every time you look at it you see something different.

The White Walker’s head is a purpose built mask that has been embellished with machine embroidery, piping, crystals and beads.

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His pendant and elbow ornaments have been hand embroidered in metallic thread by Hand & Lock Design Room and finally his armour is made up of dyed and embroidered fabric produced by students at The Royal School of Needlework.

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Anthea Godfrey, Artistic Director Embroiderer’s Guild and Project Manger for the artwork, has every right to be very pleased with the finished product.

The exhibit is on show until 6pm Saturday 19th March.

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Royal Navy School – Channel 4. Ep1

Drill
Photo courtesy of Channel 4

Confessions out of the way first, I have a vested interest in this program because I went to RN School back in the times before mobile phones and the internet proper.

The other reason I was looking forward to watching this series is because the PO Wren (Now CPOWTR Mead) makes an appearance, as one of the HMS Raleigh Instructors. The very same one that inspired me and whisked me off to the recruitment office. Back when we females were still called Wrens.

I made it to the dizzy heights of Leading Wren Writer, otherwise known as the Leading Hand rank – lets get the giggling out the way now. The Writer trade, in civvie terms, is Pay, Personnel & Secretariat. My dad still thinks I wrote the Captains log. Unfortunately thats not a bad dad joke, he actually thinks that.

However that doesn’t mean that you don’t see any action, as a writer. I did a six month tour of Bosnia, which counted as my sea time – landlocked and serving with the Army! Back then the RN was still transitioning with the occurrence of Women (Wren’s) being allowed to go to sea.

So there were still ships that hadn’t been converted to accommodate both the sexes, so at that time opportunities to go to see were still somewhat limited. Which is a pisser when you join the Royal Navy to see the World,, I was aboard HMS Birmingham for 2 weeks but there was no Wrens accommodation so I had to come ashore each night!

Anyway enough about me…..

First up we meet Master At Arms (MAA) Gritt as 60 new recruits arrive at HMS Raleigh for the first time. Everyone looks very nervous, some even a little shell shocked. However their nativity has saved them further nerves as the MAA is part of the Regulator Branch. Otherwise known as the Reggies but NEVER to their face. They are the RN Police.

There is no scarer person to meet, other than the enemy, than a MAA.

Also in the opening scenes is PO Cox – Drill Sargent and she perfectly sums up the entire basic training “You come here as a potato and we will turn you into a packet of crisps”.
Recruit Harland says his heart stopped when the recruits had to first empty their bags of any ‘civvie’ food they had brought with them. He had to dump all of his Angel Slices. Harland is clearly going to start off as the boy in the group but I’m sure we’ll see an amazing transformation.

The recruits come from all walks of life and of all ages. Of the 60, 23 are still teenagers. At the other end of the spectrum you have Recruits Myatt and Stewart in their late 20’s and Recruit Rowan who is 32.

Rec. Rowan was previously in the Army and by his own admittance he didn’t make the best of that opportunity at the time. Now he is married with four children and wants to carve out a career in the RN.

Rec. Stewart looks very much like a young Prince Edward (in a good way)! So I wasn’t surprised to hear that after finishing university he initially applied to be an officer. Unfortunately he didn’t pass selection so a couple of years later he is here hoping to work his way up through the ranks. He’s got Tiff written all over him from his accent to his level of intelligence,

They will all be treated the same but those who are older will be of great encouragement to the younger recruits who may never have been away from home, had responsibility or been told what to do before.

That said the younger recruits can bring something to the table, often the younger ones have been cadets before and can provide invaluable kit (Uniform) advice.

The dorms still look pretty much the same, same metal beds and wafer thin mattresses but is that a quilt I spy? The kit cabinet has evolved though. It used to be barely the size of a bedside table but now they seem to have proper wardrobes. However the storage in training is supposed to represent the amount of storage you get onboard a ship. That’s pretty much a walk in wardrobe by ship standards.

Warrant Officer Collingbourne oversees the basic training and warns the recruits that they are being watched 24/7. This is proved numerous times throughout the episode when the Instructors are shouting out the window at people with the incorrect dress. The provision of press ups is never far behind.

Much is made about Harland being lazy and having no idea about real life and I think his dad, who does a couple of pieces to camera about it, is to blame there. No teen is going to pick up after themselves if someone else is going to do it and I also got the impression that not a lot of praise was being dished out at home.

Its time for the first kit inspection. The recruits have to lay out all the kit in a specific way with all items folded to A4. There cannot be even a microscopic piece of dust or dirt on anything. The Instructors tear through everything and if anything is not up to standard it gets thrown onto the floor, including beds.

It’s a shock for the recruits when they return to see how they’ve done and it’s probably the harshest form of criticism but it works as a method to get you to do better. Especially as it’s all been on the floor now and will need to be cleaned again.

They’ll will have spent hours preparing their kit, even through the night when they should’ve been sleeping.

Wait till they get further into their training and it starts getting thrown out of the window because you should know better by then.

Physical Training – My favourite session *Sarcasm.

Classic line from the PT to start the session “Why is *Insert Name* late because they had to go to the toilet? Why is he having a shit in my time”

We get a passing glimpse of Recruit Bernard-Jones, the first female to be spoken to by the film crew. There are girls in this group, we just aren’t being shown them and it’s slowly getting infuriating. The Production company are not doing RN recruitment any favours.

There seems to be a lot of rope climbing in PT now, I don’t remember climbing any ropes. Lots of beastings but no rope climbing other than on an assault course.

Family man Rec Rowan is unsurprisingly made the Class Leader, with Rec. Stewart his deputy. Prestiges positions to be given and believed to be an indicator of the position holders future career in the RN.

It’s finally time for the daunting first drill exam, when the class has to demonstrate that they can respond to orders as unit, quickly and efficiently. The ability to do this the backbone of any disciplined armed service.

I’d like to make it known that, that parade ground is freezing even in the summer. The wind blows directly up from the sea there and it’s Baltic. You don’t get to wear a coat out there in the winter months either.

The class are told they passed but only by the skin of their teeth. Looking back on my training I’m pretty sure that even if you nailed it the first time they’re not going to tell you.
Straight from the parade ground to the Gym, because there’s no rest for the wicked. Suddenly, and not long into the session, Rec. Rowan passes out. It’s clear straight away that it’s not a simple faint though and he is rushed to the Medical Centre for further tests.

It’s not good news … Rec. Rowan has a heart defect. He has to leave HMS Raleigh immediately and return home for further hospital tests and surgery.

Not only is his heart broken that his dream maybe over before it started but so are the rest of the class and even the instructors. “

Harland
Recruit Harland

The lads are what keep you going, like a second family.” Rec. Harland.

With Rec. Rowan gone Rec. Stewart is made up to Class Leader but he is worried that he has a tough act to follow.

The good news comes as the credits roll at the end of episode 1. Rec. Rowan had the necessary heart surgery and after making a full recovery was able to make a return to Basic Training at HMS Raleigh and again was able to prove his worth and was made Class Leader.

Open Letter To PJ School Run Haters

Dear All

I wear pyjamas on the morning school run and I am neither lazy, a skank dragging her kid up and actually I’ve done more than my fair share of ‘honest days work’ but thank you for being so judgemental. It’s a lovely quality to teach your children.

Before I go any further I’d like to say that I don’t disagree with the letter that Kate Chisholm, Headteacher of Skerne Park, had to send out to parents. We SHOULD be trying to set the right example to our children but you’ll note that I used the word ‘trying’ there.

A growing number of media outlets and social media platforms have reported on the outrage that is PJs on the School run, and the most favoured comment of the keyboard warriors is ‘They clearly haven’t washed (if they’re in PJs)’ well I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of people in ‘Day Time’ clothes that appear not to have washed for days and stink to high heaven. So lets stop using nightwear as a gauge of personal hygiene.

I know men  and women that work nights, come in have a shower and put their pyjamas on so that they can go straight to sleep when they get back from the school run.

Now to the bit that really gets my goat, the assumption that these PJ wearers are:

  • Back off to bed
  • Spongers
  • Wastes of Oxygen [SIC]
  • Unemployed
  • Bone idol
  • Sat on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle
  • Claiming the dole

Well, I AM one of those parents that you will see, occasionally, in pyjamas on the school run. I say occasionally because normally I can’t do the school run at all.

I’m 37 and when I had my son 8 years ago I didn’t expect to be physically unable to walk him to school and that includes driving and walking the short distance to the gate.

I have various chronic life long illnesses, which I won’t bore you with the details of , as it’s also none of your business, But up until last year I had worked non stop from the age of 16 including serving in the Royal Navy, in war zones.

I could have stopped working much sooner but I was brought up with a strong work ethic and independence.

It’s not easy to go from polishing your shoes to within an inch of their life and clothes pressed to parade ground pass standards but unfortunately I don’t have a choice.

Same as I don’t have a choice in claiming benefits. First having delayed doing so for as long as possible and using up all of our savings.

I’ll give the haters one win though, I am sat on my arse most of the day or more factually correct lain in bed. Not watching Jeremy Kyle alas but mostly rolling around in pain and unable to eat or care for myself.

So on the very odd occasion I think I can manage to get to the school and more importantly back again in the morning I do it in my PJ’s. The energy it takes to wash and cloth myself would mean that the school run would be impossible. So I forget my pride and try to ignore the rude glances and take my son to school because that really makes his day, to have a ‘normal’ mummy for the morning.

It’s my way of giving back to him, for all the times he has missed out on something because I can’t manage it, for never being able to have a friend over and when its half term having to spend most of the day in bed watching Netflix because his mum is poorly.

I probably only account for a small amount of the PJ wearing brigade but I am one of them all the same. I’d ask you to perhaps consider this letter before you judge your fellow parent next time but somehow I think you’re probably the same idiot that glares at me and tuts when I use my disabled badge because you can’t SEE my disability!

Kind regards

Michelle Williams in the Moomin pyjama set.

Sonikmummy moves to WordPress

I have been meaning to upgrade my blog to WordPress since I finished the blog about 10,000bc and I’ve even been putting off writing blog posts because I didn’t want to keep blogging with a page that was so ‘Basic’.

It’s taken CBB USA v UK to give me the kick up the backside to do it but here we are….and following this post will be the first CBB post from this weekends developments in the CBB house.

And let’s be honest having only just gone in on Thursday evening, A LOT has happened.

If you are new to my blog and want to catch up on my previous posts, you can. I have imported all of my blog posts from blogger for your perusal. Even my inaugural blog post about my Ileostomy.

I look forward to continuing my blogging journey with you.

10,000BC – Behind The Scenes Part 4

Now I don’t think Mel needs any introduction but she was Steve’s number two at the start, we just didn’t see any footage of that (See Part 2) and then when he left, Mel stepped into the vacant leader position.

Everyone I have spoken to from the tribe has spoken highly of Mel, and at the end of this guest post there are some Final Five comments to confirm that.

So here you are…..

MEL

I think most of the camp mates would agree when I say, ‘watching a series in which you took part in, is a frustrating exercise’. In fact to watch a very heavily edited version of your life events can, I’ve found, occasionally mar the actual experience; changing perspectives of our memories and the victories that we earned during a pretty hard two months.
Since the show began, Twitter has been a constant source of joy and anger. It is a brilliant tool for an audience to engage with a show at distance; however it is also a platform that permits and even encourages some negativity. 
It’s easy to judge and this provides people the ability to ‘sling-mud’ and slander from afar. I know that in my contributing to this blog I am in fact fuelling the debate but I hope at least to address some of the criticism towards us.
Whilst debate can be very positive and should be encouraged; insults and rudeness are not part of a healthy or constructive debate. I understand this was an experiment, based on observation and that was therefore guaranteed to start discussion. Yet it’s easy for an audience to forget that we were just twenty people trying to do our best. 
Its true things did not go to plan. Yet this was never due to our laziness or for a want to ‘coast’ along. We all wanted this project to be a success; just as much as the production did. 
Two months is a long and valuable amount of time for anyone to invest on a project. Therefore I’m going to address a few of the subjects I have been asked about over the last ten weeks. I’ll try to explain why, from my perspective, we made certain choices within the camp.
Subjective viewing/Editing
First and foremost I would like to highlight something that everybody who chooses to watch and engage with reality TV shows, should really already know. This is an edited program; narrative and structure are added in the editing suite and very rarely do they convey the reality and complexity of a real life situation. 
I understood this going into the show. I had no illusion otherwise. That said, I have watched most of the show quite wide-eyed and frustrated. There’s truth in every second but without the context surrounding the events, I barely recognise my experience from the one on your TV screens. 
Training 

The general consensus among the cast was that the show would have been very different if we had been trained. I agree with this whole heartily; as just a week before I left I was given a “Training Guide”. This consisted of a booklet and a DVD and maybe this should have been a clue about what we were really wading into. 
I love being outdoors, as did many of the participants. Though I would never claim to be remotely expert on these things, I know how to look after myself in a ‘wild/outback’ situation. So I was looking forward to the two months being potentially gruelling. As I really wanted to be pushed to my limits. 
I’m not a middle-ground kind of girl. If I’m going to do something, I do it right and to the very best of my ability. So receiving a printout of You tube links and a couple of pages on what was edible on the forest floor was really quite a worrying start.
I believe it’s unhealthy to ruminate on anything; including what this adventure could, would or should have been. Yet I do know that whilst we received survival training materials, we were never trained in the importance of organisation and the need for social mobility in this situation. So the first few days were pure chaos!
When confronted with a situation, whereby every individual is trying to shout the loudest, for fear of not being heard, I found quite petrifying. If we had started with a calm and logical centre point, that we had gained from a real training experience together or through our cohesive knowledge base; then maybe we could have become more of a team from the start.
I also acknowledge that: yes it was chaos, yes mistakes were made and yes for the most part we ran around like headless-chickens; practically licking trees and wondering whether we could eat it, burn it or save it! However there were times very early on where we did bond and come together as a team. 
It’s just a shame that the edit decided to focus on the very small amount of drama. (I mean there’s almost a whole episode over a human shit?!)
This disregarded what was happening with the majority of the camp. As those moments of collaborative effort showed the best of what the camp and its occupants could be. I guess it’s just easier to sell a story of failure.
Structure/Intervention
When I came into the project I knew nothing of what it was going to be like. My preconceptions went to the extreme of likening it to a Bear Grylls, celebrity-style, survival program or some adventure like scenario. 
I had visions of being dropped in the middle of the Scottish highlands with nothing. No clothing, no food, no tools and being left to it. As you see this was clearly not what the program was. It was in fact much better than this. It was flawed but still a better concept. 
I was amazed we had been given so much! I was foolish in my previous expectation; this was never meant to be a survival program, (it became one, it really did!) it was intended as a platform to see whether 21st century man can live in 10000bc. This didn’t mean it was about living and dying by the success of our next hunt, it meant survival together, testing whether we can live as a community and dealing with the hardships our ancestors could have faced together
Overcoming our current built-in, fast-food, rapid-response, high expectation lifestyles’ and seeing if we could let go of our modern sensibilities. I believe now, these were the hurdles all of us faced and that many of us fell at. We expected to thrive, we expected to be brilliant; no-one willingly walks into hell with a smile and though we knew it was going to be difficult, we had visions of becoming the ultimate badass and truly mastering our environment. Why step up to a challenge unless you think you can master it?
When the intervention came on day ten, I was disappointed. It felt like we had failed already. I understand peoples criticism; their expectations had matched my initial misconceptions, but what I don’t think was particularly well exemplified was other peoples grit, the drive to make this work. We didn’t take the boosted rations thinking, “Great! This is our safety net. We needn’t try so hard as production will just bail us out.” We thought we cannot let this happen again. 
There had been so many pitfalls in the first few days: the loss of the deer meat, the ill fitted and badly produced clothing as well as the insufficiently tanned skins we had which lead to the maggot infestation, were just a few! 
We felt like it wasn’t just the environment against us but circumstance too. Yet none of us wanted to break-apart what was promising to be a potentially life changing event. Again… Yes production had to intervene, and yes it changed the dynamic of the show but this wasn’t the death of the experiment for most of us on it. 
People can sit astride an intellectual ‘high-horse’ and question the validity of the show but I think these people fail to question how realistic the experiment could be in the first place. Trying to replicate a nomadic people who lived in a mind-set of prepping for months if not years ahead, just to survive. 
Tribes who would have had a stock of food for the harsher months, a people who had a largely different physicality as they did these tasks daily. They were a unit who hunted in large groups, in well-known areas. We are and were none of these things and no amount of reading would have prepared us for this hardship. 
The short-fall is that we did not start this experiment in spring, when food may have been bountiful, nor did we have years to hone our bodies for hunting and hardship, or even months together to bond and learn the skills we needed. The short fall was, we are 21st century people and we struggled like hell and that was the whole point!
Hunting

When I first became involved in this whole project my initial excitement was about the hunting aspect. This may come as unexpected to viewers. As I feel the edit portrayed me to be anti-hunting, which isn’t particularly fair or accurate. I actually wanted to hunt. 
I wanted us to be completely successful and I found it was portrayed that in some sense I was quite happy for us to live off nuts and berries because it was the easy option. However this is far from the truth.
I did take control of the rations but this wasn’t to ‘eek’ them out for as long as possible. It was to avoid what had previously happened within the first few days of the experiment. 
I’ve taken a lot of criticism via social media over this choice and it is easy to disregard what it meant to take this control and responsibility. It was difficult to be “that girl” – what I felt was the voice of reason in a dire situation. 
I was hungry low energy and struggling, yet the edit does nothing to show the work we all did to prevail. Every single day was an uphill haul but only the hunters were shown in this light. No mention is given to those doing the lake trips, the fire wood collection and the root digging that is so massively physical and draining and happened every day.
I wasn’t particularly comfortable in this role. I can organise, as this is essential to my everyday life but I’m not a natural ‘manager of people’. I am terrified of confrontation and of offending anyone. On numerous occasions we as a group discussed what to do about the food we’d been given and no one wanted to take ownership, or make a decision. If at some point the group had decided to eat everything and see what happens; I would have supported that. But the truth of the matter is, that isn’t what we did. 
It became a matter of survival and being realistic about the situation. My favourite comment on our chances of making a kill and our hunting technique, made by one of our rangers there was “It’s like your trying to do rocket science, when you don’t know how to read.”
The entire time we were there I saw one pheasant. The small game we had hoped for just didn’t seem to exist! And yes there was mice but we discovered later on that they were not safe for consumption as they may carry tuberculosis… 
So we hedged our bets on what we had. Rather than on what was becoming increasingly a futile exercise in the circumstances. This can be criticised but this was the reality of the situation. 
It wasn’t just a TV show to us; after the weeks had ticked by everything became very real. Our small world became all we had and surviving it became a matter of holding on and buckling down. A very real and a very human reaction.

Typical day

A typical day was not monotonous but very structured. It always felt like we were fighting for daylight and against the dark. Every day we had certain regular goals we needed to achieve, just to ensure tomorrow would be possible for us. 
First and foremost was the firewood collection. I found it’s easy to underestimate how much wood is required to maintain a fire burning 24/7; not to mention the amount of wood required to create ember beds large enough for cooking on.
After all this came the specific goal for each day. This changed depending on what was required. Some days, usually every third day, we would take a trip to the lake. This was for food and cat-tail roots, whilst others would forage or shore up the camp. Whilst this may seem frivolous from outside. It was essential for our sleep, which was something we were all struggling with. 
It may be easy to assume we lazed around in an attempt to preserve energy, this is far from the truth. I honestly can’t think of one day where I stopped. We created ‘Stand-down Saturday’ – Where a few members choose to lie in. We also had ‘Honey Wednesdays’ the day when we ate Honey rations in the morning.  Though these in my experience were not particularly restful, it gave the tribe as a whole something to look forward too.
The evenings were dominated with preparing the evening meal and ensuring we were prepared for the night ahead in regards to fire wood.  We tended to turn in relatively early by modern day standards. We would try to complete tasks by firelight but this was surprisingly difficult and exhaustion usually won out!
The nights were a systematic routine of: Sleep a couple of hours. Wake up and realise you can’t see the fire. Panic that it’s gone out. Get up and find the embers, then get it going again. 
Once we were all sleeping the tepee after the intervention, this responsibility mostly fell-down to myself and Mike. Many times I would take this as an opportunity for some ‘alone time’ and these peaceful moments are something I sorely treasure from the whole experience.

Leadership
I was always reluctant to be referred to as a leader. It’s a term that can be tainted with negative connotations and puts a lot of pressure on an individual. 
The edit seemed to hide most of us girls for the first few weeks. Most of the social feedback surrounding me attempting to, “step-up” was that I seemed to come out of nowhere and that is somewhat true.
For the first few weeks I was frustrated with the manner in which the experiment was unfolding and so mostly kept my head down busying myself with chores that sorely needed doing. 
In that time I made satchels for foraging trips, attended lake trips, jerked meat. I also made alterations to the tepee customising it for so many bodies and narrowing the door way to help with heat problems. 
I was very much intimidated by this mass of people and didn’t feel capable to hold my own in the situation. Saying that, people did recognise my work ethic and there were some wonderful moments where many of us came together to help get tasks done. Particularly in regards to improvements of the tepee, in which I did tend to take a leading role.
After the snow there wasn’t really a moment where I felt it necessary to step up. It just happened naturally. The men were out with Klint, being shown traps for almost the entire three days and so I started taking charge within the actual camp. 
I understood the importance of organisation and was trying to give structure to our group. I was lucky that my camp mates were patient and supportive of me. I felt the pressure of wanting to provide the best experience for everyone involved. We all needed to be survivors here. 

Though we did develop a code word for the moments I may have gotten too big for my britches or too militant in general. The code word was “Roger“. In hindsight maybe our “safety word” shouldn’t have been something that left me ‘Roger-ed’. I blame cognitive failure on that one…


So there you have it. A pretty good round up of events by Mel there, I’m sure you agree.

And now we will bring the 10,000BC blog to a close with some comments about the final 5:


Going in to camp, for me, was a shock to the system! It hadn’t even crossed my mind of all the everything I would miss. I felt very unsettled for the first week or so and was unsure if this experience was for me; even though I would of stuck with it anyway.
Bobby was my main man and I was gutted when he left. He made us laugh with his out spoken words and his prayers for burgers and a cold can of coke. 
Mary and I were also very close in there and she actually came with me for moral support for my first time going to the… eeeeerrmm bathroom……which wasn’t until day 5! 
Me and Mumma (Josie) bickered a lot and so did JP  and I. He drove me nuts at one point but we had words and moved on. I think he saw me as a little sister that he could take his frustration out on but you just can’t help loving the lad. 
I stuck up for JP right from the beginning, when I thought he was being picked on by the rest tribe. He always stuck up for me too and that wasn’t shown enough in episode nine, he was there for me 100%. 
Melissa is just….. well super human! Such a talented girl and I feel she’s going to go far in life. Mel always praised me and mum which wasn’t shown either. She understood we were completely out of our comfort zone and admired how mentally strong we both were.
Mike is just the loveliest man ever. Such a family man, I felt I’ve known Effy and Little Legs (Mike’s wife and daughter) for years. 
Jodie


Mel, well what a girl , so talented and she did so much more than was shown. Such a tough girl too . Mike, a great all rounder. Devoted husband and father, kind, helpful and honourable. JP !! I saw him grow up in 10000bc, he is so honest it’s brutal but a kind young man who stands up for what he believes in – the truth. We will remain good friends. And my beautiful daughter so strong , kind & tough.
Josie


The edit favoured a negative narrative about many of our tribe and I need to say a little about the remaining few. These guys made the experience what it was. Once the snow set in the option to walk away became unbearably attractive. I hope people can see past what’s portrayed on the screen and acknowledge the grit and strength of character it took to stick it out. Of the remaining five I was possibly more comfortable in the ‘alfresco’ lifestyle. So the determination it took from the others is even more commendable.
I found the show has been a little dire to watch; drawing attention to the hardships while distorting the reality. It was a human experience; the people made it what it was and what it was a privilege. We sung together. We joked together. We laughed together. We cared for each other. This was the best part of the 10,000 B.C. experience. Just as I’m sure it was the best part of life 12,000 years ago.
Mel

10,000 – Behind The Scenes Part 3

In tonight’s 3rd and penultimate Behind The Scenes blog I have included some written pieces from the tribe that didn’t fit into the first two categories but are both important and interesting all the same.

It’s easy enough for us, as viewers, to be armchair experts when watching any show but sometimes we don’t know the whole story and it is at this point that narrative on social media can unnecessarily harsh. 


Below are pieces from Tom, Mike and one member of the tribe who wishes to remain anonymous:


TOM

False Pretences

I was first contacted about the show after I had put a picture of me sleeping in a cave, from a video I had just put up on my You Tube Channel – Treadertube.

Someone had come across me on Instagram and thought I may be suited to this new prime time show for Channel 5, that they working on. They explained that it would be about a group of modern day British people, given the chance to experience what life was like at the beginning of time.

Reality TV is not for me and I didn’t want to be any part of that kind of show. So when I got a call from the Casting Producer I was keen to clarify what kind of show I would possible be taking part in. The Casting Producer assured me the show was being filmed as a ‘documentary’, no tasks or surprises. They’d be following our story, as that’s what appeals to a lot of people; it’s wouldn’t be like reality with hidden camera’s etc. 

My fears were calmed! I wasn’t going onto a reality show, they’d said the magic word ‘documentary’! I’m aware of ‘structured reality’, ‘factual entertainment’, ‘docusoap’ and ‘docudrama’ as code names for ‘Reality’ but this wasn’t that!

Later on it was further described to me as a “History commission for Channel 5” and it was explained to me Channel 5 had been taken over by a big American Corporation that was beginning to raise the level of programming on the channel.  

Naively I believed I’d be a part of something that really did aim to remove modern day people from their devices and get them to reconnect with a rural, hard but providing way of life. In hindsight I believed it because that’s what I wanted in my life; to ditch the laptop, the iPhone, the endless messages and the clocking-in clocking-out mentality.


Outdoor Interest

Despite a love of all things ‘adventure’ the concept of throwing myself onto Bear Gryll’s The Island or similar does not interest me whatsoever. Why reduce myself to a starving, agitated mess for the voyeuristic pleasures and judgements of the general masses?  I understand the desire to test oneself or push oneself to their limits but what I also understand is the altered reality that the presence of a camera brings, would the survivors of The Island still take part if it was just them, on their own, without any cameras?


Heading into the Stone Age

Eventually the morning of the experiment came and I woke with excited anticipation. Mostly riddled with the fear that I would be written off quickly by the others because of my floppy hair and quiet demeanour. My style isn’t Captain Flashheart crash-bang-wallop. 

I’m quiet, observant and often mistaken for shy. I worried these traits would have me written off quickly but to attempt to be anything other than what I was, was not worth the hassle and a pretence that would not endure.

Joining the tail-end of a stretch of twenty odd taxis, parked in a curved formation in what felt like a pub car park I was to remain in the taxi for about 2 hours. 

Peering out from my cab window I began distinguishing participants from production crew. Camera operators walked around poking their cameras in windows and I felt like a novel animal out of his natural habitat. 

Eventually our group of 20 was divided between 4 Land Rovers and we met other participants for the first time. Whoever claims not to be judgemental is an idiot and should not be trusted. I made my opinions immediately and the resounding emotion was anxiousness as I felt that the assembled ‘cast’ were not the group of like minded individuals that would be willing to adapt to a wilder, primitive environment. 

This is not to say they weren’t nice people! It just struck me that as a group we were not the right people to execute a successful couple of months of self-sustained living in the forest. 


The Eagle Has Landed

Approaching every footstep and movement with caution, worried about making a bad impression and defining myself immediately as incompetent I was carefully aware of the cameras. Knowing that a lot of pressure laid on the production staff’s shoulders to get this day right, because today was episode 1. If episode 1 isn’t attention grabbing then who’ll tune in next week? 

I assumed there would be some tricks, some challenge, something to cause a stir or get a rise. I was prepared to hand over all of my 21st century items and as I stood in a dispersed group facing Klint Janalus, (an ex American special forces guy), I collected my bundle of Mesolithic clothing and walked off to get changed in the cover of the woods. 


The First Warning Signs

At first I bought into the idea of ‘authentic’ clothing, in for a penny in for a pound, I wanted an authentic experience and I was happy to wear these clothes, but after a second day the clothing looked more like costuming, as if it were borrowed from a low-budget historic representation of cavemen. 

From all the research and reading I had done I found it difficult to believe that stone age man could render clay from dirt for pottery, build functioning communities and even take-down wild boar yet not cut and stitch a chamois into a t-shirt. I’m sure it looked good for PR shots and when we were all stood together it must have teased a smile from the faces of the Producers who had envisioned such a scene for a long while.

Walking together across the fields with Klint towards our camp he expelled advice. I kept close to him as I knew from experience that most of the best knowledge is dispensed at walking pace, it’s informal and off-the-cuff, when a leader addresses a group something becomes lost. 

Klint was studying for his PhD in Stone Age techniques and communities so combined with that knowledge and the information the production staff would have given him he knew what we would be up against. 

I liked Klint, out of site of the cameras he cussed and gave off a nervous energy, it felt a bit foreboding as if he was winging it.


And We Are A Go

Snaking across fields and up through a stream we finally arrived at the camp. Revealing itself through the camouflage of trees I saw a large straw teepee/wigwam dominating two smaller straw huts and a lean-to. Excitement rose and we dashed into the camp that had been built for us. 

Bearing in mind that until this point no one knew what to expect, but my driver had let slip that there had been a lot of work that went into building the camp. It was an inspiring sight; an untouched Stone Age camp ready for action. As we closed-in some of us ran around whilst others peered on, our speeds of movement was mostly dictated to by our individual levels maturity. 

I couldn’t keep a smile from my face and believed for the first time that I might have just been afraid of the unknown and perhaps the original concept I was sold was actually becoming a reality.

Like a herd of African game animals we smashed our way through the camp. Discovering and showing, moving and misplacing things, until the camera’s had caught enough of the excitement and Klint gathered us together for the final wrap-up before we were left to our own devices. 

I was keen to fulfil Klints advice, he was, after all, the expert on Mesolithic culture and his suggestions were all for our benefit. You see the funny thing is that if our group was prepared to listen and take the advice as well as use our own initiative we would’ve made much better progress. 

It would have been an actual success in terms of the programmes original proposition. But when you have a ten-part, two month, brand new show set to shoulder out Big Brother you can’t really have a group of people taking advice and using initiative. You need instability built-in but you need to count on that. 

Although I have never worked on a ‘Reality’ TV show I understand that all stories are driven by conflict and drama. I argue that the conditions and environment would’ve been testing enough with a group of people more capable to deal with the premise, but that’s just not dramatic enough. 

Someone breaking down because they’re dead fall traps have been unsuccessful for seven days straight just isn’t as juicy as someone stealing food. Everything gets reduced to the primitive and it’s the most simple formula possible: place a bunch of people without anything in common in a high-pressured environment and watch them crack. 

All Klints’ advice was ignored. We fashioned no map, made no decent quantity of cordage. All over the camp there were items too specialised for our minds to comprehend. 

You see, from my research and confirmed by Klint, was a fact that the Stone Age man was as clever as us, their cognition’s – their thinking – is the same as ours now. Not in terms of understanding, obviously we interpret the world different but to be simplistic about it; my point is that they had no less brain cells or capacity for learning. Our ancient ancestors were clever as hell! But you take 20 of them and leave them in a semi-detached for 2 months and you could guarantee they’d be dead by the 4th week! 

Perhaps it was an oversight, or perhaps it was built-in to the format, but with zero training or preparation we were guaranteed failure before we event stepped foot into the camp. We were left dry-stored food that equalled a months calorific intake for 20 people (rationed, obviously), we ate it in a week. 

We begun our journey into the Stone Age in the Autumn, when every foragable food source dies. My cynical side reduces this to the fact that with the imminent onset of winter we’d be under more pressure to secure food, rather than gleefully learning the art of finding edible plants we’d refocus on the attention-grabbing task of killing animals: a great way of polarising opinion and creating tension and conflict in the camp and in the living room. 

We’d be more inclined to share body heat to stay warm at night, and basically our actions would be exaggerated by the difficult conditions.

Survival experts and assistants agreed with my bitter ramblings and said, diplomatically, that October, (autumn), was not the best time to start such an experiment.


MIKE


Interventions

There have been many tweets about how easy we had it with medical assistance, being given food and not being able to hunt efficiently. It annoys me that the edit hasn’t shown how hard it was, how we tried our hardest and just how badly our bodies reacted to the conditions.


Team Work

We as a tribe worked for each other, strived for each other and cared for each other. This sadly doesn’t happen anymore in society and it worries me that this is the world my daughter will grow up in. I sound like I’m preaching but I’m not, although the situation was difficult, it brought out the best out of us. It seems to me that the easier life gets in the modern world, the worse people get towards not only each other and but also themselves.


The Other Side Of The Coin

Also I think it was unfair that production have been given such a bad rep by the public, they were there with us, in the highs and the lows; And if it wasn’t for them the show would never of been shown. Every single runner, soundie, camera person & production member did a brilliant job, not only capturing us but at times keeping our morale up when it seemed too dark to see.


Would I Do It Again?

Would I do it again? Your goddamn right I would! I loved the freedom from modern day stress it gave me, we don’t need a lot of the material things we crave. The question really should be would I do it differently? Your goddamn right I would! Or at least try to. I personally burnt myself out by trying to do too much on my own but I’d probably do that again as it’s in my nature to try and save other people from pain, be it physical or mental or suffering. 

I can’t help it, it’s who I am. Is it s good thing? Probably not, but we can’t help who we are. I would love to something else like this, maybe a Bear Grylls type, with modern day equipment, there’s no way it could be as hard. I’m also not ashamed to say I loved my time on camera and would love to do more, but I think the old adage still rings true, nice guys finish last, so I won’t hold my breath.

Limits

Looking back it was the hardest thing I have ever done, both mentally and physically but it was worth it. I pushed myself further than I thought I could, to past breaking point, but I’ve found my limit and that’s not something many people can say now a days. I am proud of what we did as a family and I’m honoured to have met the people I did. My favourite person was Mel, an absolutely great person and someone I would do anything for both in there and out if she asked.


ANON


Organisation

Production were so badly organised that the soon-to be tribe members were told that they had a place in the show but production weren’t sure when the show was going to take place. Initially it was meant to be in September but finally we were told we would be going in the last two weeks of October. They were clearly all over the place and from this point early on I was concerned.


Night Supervision

At 7pm every night the crew would disappear back to ‘Base’, this was the hunting lodge about an hour away that you saw us evacuated to during the severe snow storm. We were told that there were ‘Rangers’ in the woods watching over us, at night, in case anything happened. It soon became apparent that there was no one around. We were simply left in the middle of the woods to fend for ourselves, surrounded by wild animals. 

A senior member of the production crew  was asked where these Rangers were as we hadn’t seen any them and they snapped back with “You’re not meant to see them, they’re here to look after you and not for you to see. 

The reason we know there was no rangers was because if we wanted to go hunting they would have to arrange a ranger to come and supervise us, and we would have to give a days notice. Once we managed to get someone on the same day but we had to wait 4 hours ranger supervision to arrive. 

After 6 weeks they decided to leave a radio, in case of an emergency, which was lucky because that was the night Paul got very ill and we had to radio for emergency help, 45 minutes later the medic arrived with crew.


The Break Before Reboot

We were treated like peasants from some of the crew. When we were evacuated we had to stay in the  same lodge that all the crew stayed in.  The first day we ate in the common room but after that day we were told we were banned from the common room and that we would have to eat in the hallway!
This is also were we slept, all of the men, for 7 nights and we weren’t supposed to leave the hallway. The girls were given a single bedroom to share. 

The lodge experienced a power cut, due to the snow, and had to be run on a generator. At this point were were all banned from washing because of how much power was needed from the generator to heat the water. The crew took priority when it came to hot water and washing.


One evening I decided to go a try and get some milk from the common room as we had a kettle and a cup for each of us. I was spotted by one senior members in production who rudely pointed her finger at the door, just as I was in mid sentence asking for some milk, and shouted “OUT”!!


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading all the tribe has had to say so far and I am really looking forward to tomorrows final Behind The Scene Blog, when Mel takes over with a guest post and a couple of the Final Five get to say their final bit too. 

Thank you for reading

10,000BC – Behind The Scenes Part 2

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.
Bobby


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! 
Anon


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.
JP



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.
Anon


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.
Anon

*I am aware, History fans, that the Dinosaurs lived in a completely different era