Magazine article The Spectator

Television: Eden

Magazine article The Spectator

Television: Eden

Article excerpt

The unacknowledged subtitle of Channel 4's new reality series Eden (Mondays) is Die, Hippies! Die! Obviously they're not going to admit this because that wouldn't be right. But I'm sure Channel 4 is hoping that a terrible Lord of the Flies -type scenario will unfold for the 23 victims who've volunteered to get back to nature on a remote Scottish peninsula for 12 months, in which they hunt one another down with sharpened sticks, with hideously watchable consequences.

In episode one, my money would have been on Anton as chap-best-placed-to-survive. Middle-aged, stroppy and northern, an adventurer by trade, Anton very quickly decided that he absolutely could not cope with the bunch of mostly twentysomething special snowflakes (yoga teacher; lifestyle coach; marine conservationist) with whom he'd have to spend the next year.

And who could blame him? There they all were, stranded in the wilderness, dependent for their survival on their wits, a few basic starter supplies (fishing kit, hunting rifle, sleeping bags, and so on) and their ability to make the most of their livestock (goats, pigs, sheep, chickens) and their various fruit and vegetable seedlings. So guess what their first major construction project was after they'd sorted out rudimentary spring/summer accommodation...

If you guessed 'teepee-shaped community centre-cum-sweat lodge' then you're absolutely right. God knows what the people in charge of food provision thought. No, actually, we know what they thought: they let it pass with barely a murmur of complaint. This is the monster we have created with 'all shall have prizes', non-competitive sports days and 'circle time': a generation so determined to let everyone vouchsafe their vacuous opinion that they'd rather starve to death than spoil the touchy-feely fun by saying, 'Guys. Do you not think a greenhouse should take priority over a group hug?'

Hence Anton's retreat to the woods to build a mini-camp of his own. He'd noticed that the site of the summer camp was subject to 70mph gales and that this wouldn't be much fun in winter. But no one else -- apart from his one other ally, the fiftysomething Brixton carpenter -- wanted to hear about the nasty, boring reality thing. Instead, they preferred to bicker about whether it was fair for Anton to pillage from the communal supplies when he was showing so little community spirit.

So far, so very promising: Anton strips off and daubs himself in deer blood; Anton sharpens his hatchet. …

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