Nudity and the Gross Misuse of Olive Oil - The Island with Bear Grylls So Far

The Island with Bear Grylls is back for its fourth season and well underway; marooning 16 castaways on a couple of remote Pacific Islands. The twist this season is that the cast will feature a generation divide, and that the contestants will be split into two groups; the young and the old, made up of both genders. On one island, eight castaways aged between 18-30, and on the neighbouring island a group of 8 much older castaways. Neither group ‘knew’ the other was there but luckily they decided to spontaneously cross onto the neighbouring island and stumbled across the other group conveniently early on. What a coincidence!  

An 18-year-old student, a detective constable and a hard working 66-year-old businessman are amongst the 16 Islanders, as well as camera operators and doctors in both groups. This ended up being a good idea as by episode 3; there had already been two extreme cases of diarrhoea and an almost amputated finger.

Bear Grylls’ dramatic introduction where he stands on a cliff face and promises this programme to be a deeply psychological analysis of the differences between older and younger generations, and how they cope in testing circumstances fools no one. “Will the energy of youth trump the wisdom of age?” ponders Bear, as the concept for this fourth series sees a bunch of 18-30 year-olds abandoned on one island and a group of oldies dropped off on another. But let’s be honest, this is a show where we as viewers get a perverse kick out of seeing people break down as they can’t find water, fight over a morsel of crab and come under strain from heat, torrential rain and each other. It’s pretty perverse really, since the Island is actually very dangerous, making I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here look like a walk in the park. There’s no Bob standing behind the camera ready to jump in and save everyone, we have seen in past seasons people fall of cliff faces, almost drown in harsh currents and almost die from dehydration. Nevertheless, it undeniably does make great television and we as a nation can’t seem to get enough.

Season 4 certainly hasn’t disappointed so far; there’s been a tonne of arguments over iguanas, nudity and the terrible miss-use of olive oil.  The primary cause for most of the tensions and drama, however, has indeed been the age-gap. It started off with the two islanders that stand out are 66-year-old Frank and 29-year-old Ben -. both huge pains. Headstrong, overly-opinionated and fiercely determined that they’re right no matter what the cost. They are both complete nightmares so are – of course – reality TV catnip, and clashed almost immediately when the two camps came together. But as the episodes progressed, we saw numerous other clashes between the young and the old, all stemming from the same problems; the older group relegating the younger group based on age, and accusing them of laziness.

One decision they did manage to make in unison, however, was kicking 50+ year old Phil of the Island. This had never before happened in The Island history, and was primarily motivated by an argument he had with retired Police Officer Jane after she was offended with him walking around naked. Whilst I’m all for self-liberation and feeling comfortable in your own skin, walking around stark naked with your junk out for all the world to see could possibly be kept to a minimum, especially if you are specifically asked to refrain from doing so. The fatal blow for cameraman Phil, however, was using the precious bottle of olive oil the group found to keep the fire going, failing to recognise how important its calorie-rich content was for the group’s energy levels. And so, with his half-hacked off finger, he was thrown off the Island. He handled it quite well but it was just a bit awkward really; for the Islanders, for us as viewers, and probably for him as he watches it back in years to come. “If only I’d kept my pants on!” He will curse to the wind on his dying day, “My 9 ½ fingers and I might have made it to the end.”

What we have to look forward to now; is seeing how long the camp survive without a decent, big meal; if the young and the old will continue to come to blows or learn to live harmoniously; and whether the Island remains big enough for Ben’s gigantic ego to fit on it.

The Island with Bear Grylls: catch it twice a week on Channel 4.

Edited by Susan Akyeampong