With all 24 participants having to bring every element of their brains and brawn to the game, Jonathan, 51, says he’d struggle if he was a contestant this time around.
“It’s rough out there, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. It was tough enough being on set for two months to host. At least, I got to go back to a warm bed each night!”
This is your sixth season as host. What do you love about Australian Survivor?
The great thing about this show is that it’s so unpredictable. You never know how it’s going to play out – I find that fascinating! That’s why this show has continued to be popular for over 20 years around the world. It’s impossible to predict. It’s also not your typical run-of-the-mill, fluffy reality show. It’s a complicated game and it’s got so many twists and turns. That’s why Survivor fans are so obsessed.
What did you think when you heard that this season would pit brainy contenders against brawny ones?
I loved the idea. You might instantly think that the physically strongest, most athletic contenders will do well but that’s not the case. Brains and brawn are really just convenient labels we put on the tribes to drive a narrative. One thing that isn’t mentioned in that theme is the social game. Having a strong social game may be even more important than smarts and strength.
If you were a contender on the show, what would your strength be?
Now that I’ve seen how this game is played up close for a while now, I think I’d be good at strategising. It’s easy to be an armchair player rather than a real player though. If I was actually a contender I’d probably be a s--t one!
Are you in touch with any of the former Australian Survivor contenders?
I am in touch with some of them via social media because I live in the US. They’re a pretty tight-knit bunch though, and I know a lot of the former contenders are still close. They’ve been through a unique, pressure-cooker situation so they really bond.
This is the first season you’ve filmed in Australia. What was that like?
It was really hard. Visually it looks stunning but the conditions were brutal. Some of the temperatures during the day were unfathomably hot and then it would get really cold at night. I mentioned the snakes and spiders already, didn’t I? We had a couple of full-time snake wranglers on set whose sole job was to remove the poisonous snakes and they were constantly busy. We’d sometimes travel three or more hours each day to get to challenge locations on unpaved roads. I think we drove close to 10,000km during two months of filming. This was by far the hardest season I’ve worked on! The Fiji shows were like a holiday in comparison.
What’s next for you?
Some family time and hopefully a holiday! Filming this season was rough.
Australian Survivor: Brains V Brawn premieres on Sunday, July 18, 7.30pm on Network Ten