As a run up to the first episode of Survivor South Africa, which will be broadcast on M-Net Open Time on 3 September at 18h00, pay-TV channel M-Net has revealed the identities of the contestants.
Chosen out of 18 000 entries which poured in from all over SA, the final 14 were flown to Panama in June to commence the competition, described as “the toughest reality show on the planet”. The last remaining survivor will win R1m.
*Brigitte Willers (24) – a sports model who grew up in Ermelo and now lives in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Brigitte was named the FHM model of the year in 2005 and voted the 56th sexiest woman in the world by readers of the same magazine this year.
* Danielle Vukic (35) – a photographic producer from Green Point, Cape Town, who admits that she’s a wild, fun-loving kugel who loves pampering and luxuries.
* Don Soper (54) – a businessman from Hurlingham Manor, Johannesburg who attended the SA Naval Academy. He has participated in several international yacht races.
* Gareth Tjasink (26) – a medical intern at Baragwanath Hospital who is well known as the Archers Aqua man. He also had a brief acting stint on Egoli. Gareth studied at UCT and lives in Sunninghill, Johannesburg.
* Jacinda Louw (25) – an entrepreneur from Bedfordview, Johannesburg, with an emerald belt in kickboxing. Jacinda was a Miss SA finalist and is a professional Latin American dancer, part-time model and professional make-up artist who also runs a finishing school for kids.
* Jude Wilken (39) – a hostage negotiator and SAPS platoon commander. This body-language expert, who won a gold medal and two silver medals at the World Police and Fire games in Indianapolis, lives in Kempton Park.
* Lezel Crook (28) – a tomboy attorney from from Cape Town who has represented South Africa at volleyball. She has travelled the world and lived in Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands.
* Mzi Tyhokolo (31) – an energy advisor for a big fuel company. He grew up in the Free State towns of Bethulie and Welkom and now lives in Honeydew Ridge, Johannesburg. He holds a BSc honours degree and has a vast general knowledge.
* Ncumisa Ngcaweni (30) – a NGO skills trainer from Cape Town who strives to change people’s lives for the better. She is involved in a number of projects aiding teenagers and young people.
* Nico Hinis (43) – a chain-smoking restaurateur and first-rate chef from Parkhurst, Johannesburg.
* Sam Allerton (30) – a sculptor from from Hogsback in the Eastern Cape who now spends most of his time in Cape Town. He won the Men’s Health Look competition in 2005.
* Sanele Gumede (27) – a level-headed brand manager who grew up in Durban but now lives close to work, in Sandton, Johannesburg.
* Vanessa Marawa (27) – a beautiful real estate agent who moved back to Durban after a highly successful modelling stint in Cape Town.
* Zayn Nabbi (23) – an outspoken rugby writer who works for the Daily News in Durban. He’s a devoted Catholic.
Carl Fischer, M-Net’s Head of Original Productions, says these contestants were hand-picked to turn the country’s very first Survivor series into an unforgettable television experience. “They are attractive, strong characters from different walks of life who will each bring interesting dynamics to the show. As in every Survivor series, the mix of personality types in an unfamiliar environment is the fuse that ignites the explosions.”
The production of Survivor SA was conducted under a veil of secrecy and strict security to ensure no media or public interference. Only close family and friends knew what was going on. The Survivors prepared alibis to avert the suspicion of outsiders who noticed their sudden disappearance, weight loss and tell-tale insect-bite blemishes. The alibis ranged from exotic holidays to overseas yoga camps and business trips.
M-Net’s Survivor SA: Panama was shot on the Pearl Islands and is a co-production between Endemol SA and the Swedish company Strix, which has been involved in many of the international versions of the programme.
To date, over 100 series of Survivor have been produced by 35 countries.