Shipwrecked: chiselled dullards, mouthy megalomaniacs and Kush
Reality TV: Contestant Daisy opens by saying she ‘didn’t choose the sexual life’, it chose her
The students and socialites on Shipwrecked are also influencers on the side or bona-fide models
It feels strange to watch Shipwrecked without a hangover. The series was initially part of the T4 (Channel 4’s weekend morning show) roster of soothing Sunday shows that Alexa Chung or Jameela Jamil introduced in a brattish, sardonic way so we understood their too-cool revulsion at the thoughts of sappy Dawson’s Creek. Shipwrecked was a reality castaway show like Survivor but without any perilous competitive edge other than the islanders trying to tempt new arrivals into being part of their gang in a bid to win prize money. It was a fantasy island populated by pretty people, grating gap-year poshos and a lone northerner who was either a builder or a plumber who once graced the pages of More magazine. The show was a welcome palate cleanser after the technicolour horror of the never-ending Hollyoaks omnibus.
T4 was eventually replaced by weekend morning telly that now consists of tired-looking comedians munching on eggs Benedict while Tim Lovejoy tries to remember what’s written on his cue cards. Shipwrecked was sunk until now, with the success of other beach-based shows such as Love Island and eh… The Island with Bear Grylls, E4 have brought back the original reality show getaway.
Thankfully the format hasn’t changed much other than providing the teams with pre-built living quarters, making it more like a glossy holiday camp than ever. It’s still a winning mix of telegenic young folk who love to shout, “I’m the kind of person who speaks my mind and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is!” into the camera in their opening VT. The difference is these students and socialites are also influencers on the side or bona-fide models (not just wearing bikinis in Nuts magazine), so the show is not just increasing their profile, it’s testing their ability to convince strangers to like them.
As always, there’s a distinct divide between the more empathetic, thoughtful islanders and the brash, loutish lot. The two opposing teams, the Tigers and the Sharks, must collect as many new islanders as they can as if they are sentient Pokémon and will stop at nothing to catch them all and win the game. For the Blue Peter-esque Sharks, this means wooing them with a tray of pungent sea snails and performing an embarrassing dance routine with a microphone made from a coconut. Meanwhile the Tigers decide to construct a makeshift sex den, replete with a pot of condoms and a hastily draped bedsheet outside.
One person intent on using this dismal love den is model Harry, a chiselled dullard. He speaks of “ploughing through” gentle Kalia and then disposing of her before becoming entranced by newcomer Daisy because “she looks dirty”. Daisy is sharper than expected, redeeming herself after an opening statement that she “didn’t choose the sexual life” but rather the sexual life chose her.
Luckily the show isn’t entirely populated by abysmal forms of humanity. There’s the charming Kush, the kind of all-round loveable character who would have won Big Brother back in its golden age. Having spent time in a boyband managed by Geri Halliwell, Kush is well-versed in the ways of the ego, making him the ideal person to manage this motley crew of megalomaniacs. He is the only one who seems able to tolerate Sloane Ranger Big T, who appears to have been possessed by the spirit of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. Her diva-princess shtick wears thin on new boy Kasey who is on the island for just 24 hours. This island life is not for everyone.