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Survivor (television series)

Survivor is a popular reality television program produced by many countries throughout the world. The show consists of contestants isolated in a remote location competing for a million dollar prize.


The basic premise of the show is that each series starts with sixteen players and on each episode one player is voted off by the other remaining players. Initially, the players are divided into two eight person "tribes" which compete against each other in "challenges" - competitions of endurance, intelligence, teamwork, dexterity, or will power. Each episode has an "immunity challenge" and the tribe that loses this challenge must vote one member of the tribe out. In addition, most episodes have a "reward challenge" and the winning tribe will receive a prize such as additional food or equipment.

At some point in the season the remaining players from the two tribes "merge" into a single tribe. From this point, challenges are won on an individual basis. Rewards are given to only one player (who is however often given the option to choose one other player to share the reward with), and only one player wins immunity. This immune player cannot be voted off on that episode, although he or she still has the right to vote against other players.

The voting is done at the end of each episode at the "tribal council". The show's host, Jeff Probst, questions and provokes the players about events that have occurred and their opinions about the other players. The players all then secretly vote, and the player who receives the most votes is out of the competition. The first seven players are off the show, but the next seven remain to form the "jury" which does not directly participate in the show but observes the tribal councils. When the number of players has been reduced to two on the final episode, the jury members have the opportunity to interrogate them and then vote on which of the two is the "sole survivor" and grand prize winner.

The grand prize winner wins one million dollars (in the US version of the series). The players that were voted off win lesser monetary prizes ranging from $2500 for the first player to be voted off to $100,000 for the fifteenth player.

While the show is based on the theme of wilderness survival, the real basis of the show is politics. The survival aspects are difficult enough to discomfort the players, but contestants are of course never truly endangered (only one has ever had to leave in mid-series due to injuries). The real survival skills required are the ability to make deals and form alliances with other players to keep from being voted off. Because of the steadily diminishing number of players and the fact that the players being voted off will in turn choose the ultimate winner, considerable political skills are required.

Concept History

The Survivor concept was conceived by Bob Geldof's Planet 24 television company. It initially failed to attract the attention of any of the major broadcasters in Britain or the United States and was eventually taken up by Swedish television in 1997 as Expedition Robinson (alluding to Robinson Crusoe). The show was a major hit in Sweden, and it is estimated that half of Sweden's population watched the final episode.

The initial series was a huge ratings success in the US in 2000. Subsequent US versions have attracted smaller but still substantial audiences. There have also been British and Australian versions of the show in 2002. Both failed in ratings flops, so much so that in Britain, it was a national joke.

Seasons of the American version of the series

The U.S version is produced by Mark Burnett and hosted by Jeff Probst. When the program is broadcast, it airs weekly on CBS.

Survivor IV was not shown in Australia as the network was showing a series of Australian Survivor instead. The latter was not a ratings success, and it is planned to show Survivor V instead of making another Australian series.

There was a similarly titled series, Survivors, a 1970s series by Terry Nation, set in the then-present day, when most of the world's population were suddenly wiped out by a virulent plague. It followed the fortunes of a few of the "lucky" people who were immune.