Friday, March 27, 2009

Tonight on BBC1: The Real Swiss Family Robinson

The problem with being shipwrecked is that it often looks like such fun. When it happened to the Swiss Robinson family in Johann David Wyss's 19th century novel, they ended up learning some important lessons about family values and self-sufficiency. When it happened to the cast of Channel 4's Shipwrecked, they ended up with, like, amazing tans and a handful of invitations to a variety of low-budget film premieres. 

So what will transpire when the Dye family from Essex are sent to the tiny, remote, unpopulated Pacific island of Anariki (what do you mean, "Where?" It's part of the Republic of Kiribati, you dunce) to fend for themselves? Will they create the kind of idyllic community seen in The Beach – or will they head the way of Tom Hanks in Castaway, performing makeshift dental surgery on each other and ranting at volleyballs?

Dad Andy has particularly strong reasons for getting away from it all and trying out a simple life. His once lucrative building business – which also employs two of his three children – has failed, and he sees this as an opportunity to put everything on hold, take stock, slow down and have a good, long think about what life is really all about.

"Do we want to go back to how it was before?" he asks, round the family dinner table. "We did have a lot of disposable money and we could go out and eat where we wanted to eat, we could buy the cars that we wanted to buy and we could go on three or four holidays a year. Do we want that back – or don't we actually want that back?"

Hmmm, that sounds all right, actually. Anyway, the clan head off to the beautiful island on their three-week jaunt, and, after some moaning, manage to build their own shelter, catch their own food and, eventually, throw off some of their materialistic western ways. It's reasonably diverting stuff which, with a bit of luck, might even make you question your own position in the rat race.

by Will Parkhouse, Wednesday 25 March 2009 

Originally published on

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