- The sole survivor of the eighth season of Survivor South Africa will be revealed tonight in a 2-hour finale.
- Viewers can expect a final set of secrets, shocking revelations – and at least one blindside – come to light.
- "I think Thursday's Survivor SA: Immunity Island conclusion is a worthy bookend to this amazing season," says creative and series director Leroux Botha.
Tonight behind the doors of studio 2 inside Cape Town's Silverline Studios, viewers will see a final set of secrets, shocking revelations – and at least one blindside – come to light during the finale and reunion of Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island on M-Net (DStv 101) at 19:30.
Despite – or perhaps because of the Covid-19 pandemic – the 8th season of the South African version of the famous "outplay, outwit, outlast" reality competition show, produced by Afrokaans, concocted an extremely compelling collection of castaways rarely before seen on television; shrewd South Africans who are conniving, backstabbing, diplomatically devious and above all very outspoken.
The season that jettisoned plans for a foreign locale and instead filmed as a Covid-19 safe bubble production on the Eastern Cape's jungle-like Wild Coast, culminates tonight with an adapted 2-hour finale that is a pre-recorded blend of on-location shoots and studio work, without the usual large, live audience.
When Nico Panagio reads out the vote tally – moved back to the end of tonight's finale like in some previous seasons – viewers will find out whether rugby coach Anela Majozi, 25, from Johannesburg, Francois "Chappies" Chapman, 32, from Centurion, or Nicole Wilmans, 26, a digital marketing manager from Somerset West gets anointed as this season's Sole Survivor and R1 million winner.
"The castaways came to Cape Town on Friday, they all got a Covid test, and they were sequestered to their rooms in the Rockwell where they stayed, and once we got the negative results back, we formed a bubble to film the finale on Sunday," Leroux Botha, the creative director and series director of Survivor SA, tells Channel24.
In attendance are the castaways who could each bring one guest along to the studio but had to provide a negative PCR test for Covid-19 to be included, and the final two castaways left could bring four guests each. Mike Laws, who is in Munich, Germany, and Qieän Wang, currently in Hong Kong, join the reunion by video call.
"We originally planned to have a full-on reunion show like we always do with friends and family and fans and media and sponsors, but M-Net made the call to bring it right down to the smallest plan that was one of the options."
"All of the driftwood that we had with the set as viewers have seen the tribal council area, we packed into containers. We have the same flooring that we had on the tribal council set. Our arts construction team built three huts that viewers will see in the studio. All the props were brought through, so there are quite a lot of things that we brought back in from the Wild Coast to help create a similar look and feel for the tribal council space," Leroux explains.
Doing things a bit differently
"We're doing things a little bit differently this year," says the Survivor SA mastermind producer.
"As usual, we start off in studio, but then we go off to the island for about an hour, and we do come back to studio for a small section. Then it is the final tribal council and the voting, and then we come back with Nico in studio and the castaways. Instead of reading the votes immediately, we're reading the votes at the end of the show like we did with season 5 and the others, so we are doing it a little bit differently."
In terms of studio-filmed content, there's a lot more that the show simply can't fit into the broadcast timeslot to show viewers, so Survivor SA will place some entertaining extended scenes online for fans to watch after the end of the episode.
Sworn to secrecy
After they all signed book-thick, ironclad non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) before the start of their Survivor SA journey, the castaways were once again sternly warned not to talk to anybody about anything regarding this past Sunday's filmed finale and reunion show.
"They are already so invested. We did have a little talk with them again, but they are super invested in the outcome of the show and to make the show the best one ever. We reiterated the fact that they are still under contract and that there are fines if any of the information comes out.
"We are solely depending on their discretion and the NDAs that they sign not to talk about what's going to happen."
Sunday's final filming
Pre-recording the Survivor South Africa finale and reunion show compared to being a live finale "gives us a chance to go a little bit longer in terms of the chats. It's not push, push, push because you're on the clock. It gives us a little bit more pressure afterwards because the editors now have to put the entire episode together. The pressure is basically post the actual recording," Leroux says.
"There is quite a lot of surprises in this episode. There are quite a lot of – there are some blindsides in this episode. I think Thursday's Survivor SA: Immunity Island conclusion is a worthy bookend to this amazing season," says Leroux.
Leroux says the heightened scheming and much bigger outspokenness of the castaways this season has to do with the fact that this cast was "basically in lockdown with the knowledge that we're going to play Survivor".
"So they did come in a little bit more prepared than what we usually have with a cast that you get two to three weeks after your final panel interview. They usually don't have that long to think through their games and strategies.
"This time, everyone came in prepared. I actually reached out to some international and South African Survivor players beforehand and put together a 3-hour video of tips and tricks on what they would say to themselves if they had to start playing the game from the beginning – which the contestants watched the day before they started playing.
"So you have people like Adam Klein and Rick Devens and Nick Iadanza and Harry Hills and South African players like Werner Joubert, Tevin Naidu, Palesa Tau, Meryl Szolkeiwicz, Danté de Villiers – those people saying what they wished they knew before they went into the game.
"I think that video of all these people who have played before also mentally prepared them to go in hard, to be expressive and to speak their minds and to play the game.
"You can see it in the entries as well that we've had for Survivor SA season 8. It's changed in terms of the demographic, and it's also changed in terms of people who want to play the game of Survivor. They don't just want to survive – they want to play the actual game, which is fantastic, and it speaks to this phenomenal cast."
Watch the Survivor SA: Immunity Island finale Thursday at 19:30 on M-Net (DStv 101)