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I TALK Shipwrecked 2019

Monday night saw Shipwrecked return to our screens after seven years away and now that we're a third of the way in, it's time to cast my verdict on the series.

Shipwrecked in 2019 still works... sure, there have been some changes, but the game is the same and despite what others think, it's nothing like that other show.

The much-loved series turned Jeff Brazier into a household name, helped launch the careers of Sarah-Jane Crawford, Stephen Bear and Mark Byron and was a huge part of T4's Sunday morning schedule until 2012 when months after the last series aired, T4 was cancelled and so was Shipwrecked.

But that's not the first time Shipwrecked has ended only to later return. The original run was between 1999 and 2001 and consisted of three series. Then five years later in 2006 the series was revived as Battle of the Islands which ran until 2009 and it wasn't until October 2011 that the series resurfaced again, this time as Shipwrecked: The Island, a back-to-basics series which ended in January 2012.

So whilst the series has been off our screens for 7 years, it's actually been 10 years since Battle of the Islands was last on TV.

A lot of what makes or breaks reality TV are the relationships that form between the housemates/campmates/celebrities as well as the right twists, turns and gameplay to keep the interest of viewers going. And in my opinion, the first five shows of Shipwrecked 2019 have delivered on all fronts. There have been arguments, some have flirted and there have been plenty of twists along the way.

From the moment Big T arrived on the island, it was clear that she'd clash with Liv and we didn't have to wait long for their first argument. All it took was for Liv to admit that she believed in mermaids! (I know.)

Inevitably, flirting will always occur when you put a group of good-looking people together with little else to do and so far we've seen Harry try it on with pretty much every girl on the island and a rather sweet relationship blossom between original girl Hollie and new boy Josh.

During the episode on Monday night, I kept reading the same thing over and over again on Twitter, "This is exactly like Love Island" , which is a pretty weak argument. If you actually take time to look at the two shows properly, you'll realise that they're really rather different.

In Shipwrecked, you don't have to be in a couple to survive, you're not forced to couple-up and a couple doesn't eventually win - the three biggest format points of the hit ITV2 show.

If you're basing that opinion based solely on the line-up shot, then yes, I have to agree with you. Looking at the line-up side by side, the castaways and the islanders do look similar - i.e. young, good-looking and ripped. But that's really as far as the similarities go.

The Shipwrecked line-up is far more diverse and far more interesting. Where's the LGBT representation on Love Island? The cast of Shipwrecked have different sexualities, come from different backgrounds and you only have to follow Kush on Twitter to see evidence of the impact that's making with viewers.

On Friday he shared a private message which read "It took me sooooo long to realise being asian and gay is okay and that eventually the world will catchup! Also just wanted to say its soo good to finally see someone on tv who I can fully relate to! Theres not many shows where i find characters or people who literally represent us!"

I love Love Island and I love Shipwrecked, but I find the comparisons lazy. The formats are completely different and let's not forget, Shipwrecked is actually set on two islands whereas Love Island, despite what the title may suggest, is set in a villa in Mallorca.

Also, many people have complained about the castaways not having to build their own beds and make their own shelter and I'll be honest that's the first thing I thought too. But then it became clear that the game was the focus of this year's series, not survival.

A source very close to the show assured me that despite this, they did build things themselves, with one castaway even being put on a building ban later on in the series. I was also assured that they are all cut off from the outside world with no access to social media and are forced to live off basic rations which they have to cook themselves.

Could the series have done themselves more favours by showing this? Absolutely. But then you have to remind yourself that The Island with Bear Grylls launched in 2014, in the wake of Shipwrecked and caters far better to a survival audience.

I myself, as a huge reality TV fan, am pleased that the channel have chosen to focus far more on the dynamics between the castaways - the friendships, relationships and alliances they form - and of course the gameplay which despite what others might lead you to believe, has remained true to the show's original Battle of the Islands format.

The aim of the game is still to build the biggest tribe and those tribes continue to exist on 'Tiger Island' and 'Shark Island'. The overall winner will be decided at the end of the series when the biggest tribe will win the huge cash prize of £50,000.

The format still relies on two new arrivals to grow each tribe and after spending time on both islands, the decision is still made at the Beach Party which concludes each episode. However, this year there's a twist... the first of many.

Just because a new arrival wants to join a certain tribe, it doesn't mean they can. As the new arrivals write down the name of the tribe they would like to join, the two tribes also have to write down the name of the new arrival they would like to invite onto their island. Only if these names match, can the new arrival join their desired tribe. If they don't match, their Shipwrecked journey is over and they are sent packing.

But that's not the only new twist, because just as the castaways were starting to get used to the twist and able to use it to their advantage (*cough* Daisy) producers delivered another twist on Friday after identical twins Danni and Sim revealed that they wanted to join Team Tigers.

The Tigers were then given the option to let them both twins stay by sending an original Tiger home, or keeping all original Tigers and letting either Danni or Sim join their tribe.

Cut a long story short, Team Tigers couldn't send one of their own home so chose to keep Danni and send Sim home. And after much deliberation, Sim agreed to let her sister continue her Shipwrecked journey alone.

With more twists and turns expecting in the remaining 10 episodes, I for one am hooked and am already cancelling my evening plans for the next two weeks!

Shipwrecked in 2019 still works... sure, there have been some changes, but the game is the same and despite what others think, it's nothing like that other show. So once you realise that and forget about shelter-gate then Shipwrecked goes some way to fill the reality TV gap left behind by the axing of Big Brother.

So how is the show doing in the ratings? Well, the opening episode launched just shy of 300,000, which whilst a healthy number for E4 is lower than the slot average and lower than the million people who tuned in to the launch episode of The Circle on the main channel last year.

But... with consolidation numbers looking healthy and word-of-mouth spreading, overnights are no longer the full picture when it comes to looking at whether or not a show was popular with viewers. You only had to look at Twitter on Monday night to see Shipwrecked trending number one in the UK and Big T also trending in the top 10 UK trends for the second half of the episode.

Despite an initial dip for episode two, numbers increased on Wednesday and again on Thursday and stayed steady on Friday which for many people marked the end of Dry January so they were probably out enjoying themselves.

And let's not forget, this is the first time ever that Shipwrecked has aired in a post-watershed slot, stripped Monday to Friday on E4, which is a big commitment for viewers to make, even with the notable absence of Celebrity Big Brother.

There's also the very strong possibility that people are stock-piling episodes to watch hungover on a Sunday morning, just like the good ol' days. Speaking of which, I know it's only a small detail, but whoever secured original sponsor Aygo by Toyota to sponsor the series again, deserves a raise.

And finally, it's time to pick my tribe... I'm Team Sharks all the way!

Shipwrecked continues weeknights at 9pm on E4


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