Alone in the wild for a year, TV contestants learn their show was canceled

Contestants of Eden emerged after surviving 12 months in the Scottish wilderness, only to learn that the show stopped broadcasting after four episodes.
Contestants of Eden emerged after surviving 12 months in the Scottish wilderness, only to learn that the show stopped broadcasting after four episodes.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

SCOTLAND (NYTIMES) - The remaining contestants on a UK reality television series have emerged after surviving 12 months in the Scottish wilderness - fending off hunger, infighting and fatigue - only to learn that the show stopped broadcasting after four episodes, the last of them in August last year.

The show, Eden, was billed as a unique social experiment in which 23 men and women living in isolation "would take on the challenge of building a new life and creating a society from scratch," according to a statement promoting the show.

The contestants were taken to a 600-acre estate on the remote Ardnamurchan peninsula on the west coast of Scotland, which is known for its forests, lochs and beaches.

But Eden proved to be anything but paradise.

Over time, all but 10 contestants quit the show, the Press and Journal of Aberdeen, Scotland, reported. Those who left cited concerns about health and safety, boredom and swarms of tiny biting insects called midges.

The contestants were on an uninhabited private estate that the Ministry of Defense used as a training ground during World War II, the Radio Times of London reported. A 6-foot fence was erected on three sides of the estate, with the fourth side bordered by the sea, it said.

The series was filmed with a crew of four embedded with the contestants, who also had personal cameras. A rig of 45 cameras, described by the Radio Times as a network of closed-circuit television cameras that could be controlled remotely, was also used.

Unlike American reality television shows, such as the Survivor series - in which contestants compete against one another - Eden had no winners or losers. It was intended to feature the making of a society from scratch.

The show followed the contestants, who included a doctor, a chef, a carpenter and a shepherd, as they debated their own rules and laws and decided on their living arrangements.

"The series aims to challenge everything about modern living, raising questions about what we need to be happy, what we want from our communities and how we are influenced by society as a whole," the television station behind the series, Channel 4, said in a statement.

Goats, sheep, pigs and chickens, and equipment for fishing and hunting were supplied. Materials for building, cooking and safety and hygiene were also provided.

But for some, the primitive accommodations proved too much, and they took to getting food and liquor from the pockets of civilization that dot the region, according to news accounts.

Four episodes of the show were aired and viewership dropped to 800,000 from 1.7 million. The first episode aired on July 18 and the last on August 8.

Channel 4 said the show would return later this year, the Guardian reported.

"The appeal of Eden is that it was a real experiment, and when filming began we had no idea what the results would be and how those taking part would react to being isolated for months in a remote part of the British Isles," the station said.