Survivor: Just how real is the show?

By Sam Moore
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Survivor season 41 premieres on 22 September and, as with any game show, fans always want to know exactly what is real and what is staged for the cameras.

To achieve the desired comedic or dramatic effect, producers often manufacture and alter situations to create the maximum amount of entertainment for the viewer and Survivor is no different.

But Survivor is as “real” as any TV show can be. Thousands of hours of footage have to be condensed into around a dozen hours of television so the reality of what happened can be different from what is broadcast.

The show does make use of stunt performers and body doubles. According to TV Over Mind, Survivor uses body doubles for certain challenges that are too exhausting for the average person such as the taxing swimming tasks.

Actors and models are also occasionally cast as contestants. In 2008, Survivor’s casting director told The Today Show that it is sometimes easier to find people who are already comfortable on camera and can take direction.

Actors and models are also recruited because the show receives tens of thousands of applicants every year with the vast majority of them unsuitable for appearing on TV.

The vote results segment of the show is designed to create the most drama for the viewer. Whilst the editing can make it appear that the votes are read out at random, they organised beforehand to create the most suspense when revealed.

Whilst there is no script for the show, producers can create narratives in the editing room to make the programme more entertaining.


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