Big budget BBC show 'facing axe' after disappointing ratings

Virgin Radio

12 Feb 2024, 13:22

Credit: Getty/BBC

A prime time, high concept show's future hangs in the balance as the BBC contemplates the chopping block.

The future of the BBC's ambitious reality series, Survivor, is currently teetering on the precipice, with plans for a much-anticipated second series hitting an unexpected snag.

Despite the broadcaster's substantial investment and a prime-time slot, the show failed to garner the viewership it aimed for, and now, whispers of its imminent demise are growing louder.

Survivor made a triumphant return in 2023 after a more than two-decade hiatus, offering a fresh take on reality TV by stranding 18 ordinary individuals on a remote desert island, battling for survival and a tempting £100,000 prize.

With comedian Joel Dommett steering the ship, the BBC spared no expense, investing millions and securing a prime-time slot for the reboot. However, the expected surge in ratings didn't materialise.

Signs of trouble became evident as the application form for potential contestants for the second series vanished from the BBC's Take Part website.

The initial submission deadline of February 16 now seems like a distant dream, and a note on the show's website reveals a disheartening message: "Applications for casting are now paused."

The ominous statement adds: "As things stand, we are not processing or taking any further applications at this time. Please check back here for any future updates."

Insiders are painting a bleak picture for Survivor, with an unnamed source divulging to The Daily Star: "Survivor is pretty much doomed. The chances of it returning are very slim indeed."

An official announcement is anticipated within weeks, as discussions about the show's fate intensify within the BBC.

The network, however, maintains a stance of ambiguity, with a spokesperson stating to "No decision about the future of Survivor has been made."

Despite the growing storm clouds, Joel Dommett expressed optimism about the prospect of a second series just last month.

"Fingers crossed… there's a lot of stuff that we would do slightly differently," he remarked.

"Like with every first series, it's hard, so I think a second series would be amazing. Everyone seems to really love it, so I'm excited that – hopefully – [we get to] do another one."

At the time a BBC source confessed to The Mail on Sunday: ‘It has come as a huge surprise that Survivor is coming back. 

‘It is viewed by many within the Beeb as being a very expensive flop and the general view was that it should – and would – be canned.

‘To spend that amount of money on a programme that is watched by such few people surely is a silly way to spend public money.’

Survivor's revival faced skepticism due to its extravagant budget, and the numbers did little to silence the critics.

The first episode, which aired in October 2023 in the coveted post-Strictly slot, managed an average of just 2.6 million viewers.

The figures paled in comparison to Michael McIntyre's The Wheel, and even a repeat of Antiques Roadshow on BBC2 outperformed the survival competition.

Survivor originally graced UK screens in 2001 and 2002 on ITV, with Mark Austin and John Leslie at the helm.

The modern revival, while attempting to capture the zeitgeist, now faces an uncertain fate as the BBC contemplates whether to let Survivor fight another day or consign it to the annals of television history.

Survivor is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.