‘I feel like I’m going bats**t crazy,’ says a contestant within the first few minutes of ’s new survival series Alone, which makes Bear Grylls’ The Island look about as dangerous as camping in your own garden.
Alone is essentially The Island but, as the title suggests, follows 11 members of the public surviving in the Canadian wild completely isolated from anyone else, with just the odd hungry bear, wolf, moose or cougar on the hunt for its next meal for possible company.
The contestants, who are aged among 19 to 58, are dropped off miles apart from each other along the banks of the McKenzie river in a vast forest four times the size of the United Kingdom with a basic survival kit, a tent but no food or water, fending for themselves for as long as possible.
Whoever is still standing when everyone else has caved will take home £100,000.
While similar formats have thrived by having clashing personalities competing for leadership, the drama here comes from the total absence of any company whatsoever – even your worst enemy would be welcomed company.
As soon as one unhappy camper touches down, she’s immediately confronted by a black bear while it doesn’t take long for any of her competitors to come face to face with predators twice their size too.
There is not a single minute to relax, for them or us. From the moment they were left stranded, I was gripped with fear while safely watching at home on the sofa with a bowl of pasta larger than anything they’ll eat for days.
Every second they’re alone feels as though their lives are in immediate danger and, actually, I don’t know how you could convince me that they’re not.
While the day proves treacherous and unsparing the night is absolutely petrifying. With just their tent to protect them from the elements and the beasts which lurk through the night, at best they suffer through a bad sleep or at worst they’re terrorised by growls and and heavy steps circling their flimsy shelters.
Alone is a cut above anything else before it, at least in the UK, because it is quite clearly the most dangerous show on television, but like all great reality television Alone is peppered with heart an humour too – albeit buried deep in the sheer hell.
Among the line-up is a mother and fashion designer determined to prove she can do just about anything and a former drug addict in the 80s looking ahead to a new chapter.
Does it feel vastly different from survival series before it? Maybe not. But it is much more thrilling than most – as close to The Hunger Games as television gets (there is quite literally a bow and arrow).
Thankfully everyone made it back alive, but at times that feels very lucky.
Alone airs Sundays at 9pm on Channel 4 and is available to stream on All 4.