Reality TV

EXCLUSIVE: Jonathan LaPaglia says Australian Survivor will appeal to old and new fans

There is a subset of the audience who only want to see new players
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TV Week sat down with long running host Jonathan LaPaglia to discuss all things Survivor related ahead of the new season launch!

From exclusive behind the scenes information, to his favourite castaways, to how the game has changed over the years, this insider interview is a must for any fan of the show!

The Heroes tribe.

(IMAGE: Ten)

The show has brought back a number of former contestants for the upcoming season, why is this?

Unlike previous themes that define players based on physical attributes (Brains vs Brawn) or past achievements (Champions vs Contenders) this season of Heroes vs Villains speaks to the players’ game play. So it only seems natural that we would cast returnees based on how they have played previously.

The Villains tribe.

(IMAGE: Ten)

Given we are also seeing some brand new players this season, how are these new players categorised as ‘hero’ or ‘villain’ given we haven’t seen them play the game before?

As you mentioned, there is a subset of the audience who only want to see new players. Unfortunately I am not part of the casting process but I imagine this was a consideration. However, this is where it gets tricky. How do you know where they fit in this theme if you haven’t seen them play? I’m guessing personality traits were used to predict their playing style. For the most part it seemed to work out.

Jonathan LaPaglia has hosted the show since 2016.

(IMAGE: Ten)

Would you describe yourself as a hero or a villain?

Like most people I think I’m a little bit of both. At the end of the day aren’t we all a little complicated? That’s what makes Survivor so compelling to watch!

Who are your favourite all-time Australian Survivor players/what former players’ games have you respected the most?

Oh don’t make choose a favorite child! We’ve had so many great players like Shonee, George, Dave and Luke to name a few. They all have very different playing styles but one thing they have in common is they are not afraid to take a risk and make big moves. This is key.

Jonathan said he was especially excited to see George and Shonee return to the game.

(IMAGE: Ten)

If you were completely in charge of casting, who would you like to see return to the game?

There are so many but if I had to chose one I guess it would be Luke Toki. I never get tired of his cheeky game play.

Have you ever attempted any of the challenges for yourself?

I’ve attempted most of the challenges, particularly the trickier elements. When I’m creating commentary in the moment it helps if I have some understanding of what the players are going through.

After three years in the Aussie outback, Survivor is returning to the tropics of Samoa!

(IMAGE: Instagram)

How does filming in the tropics of Samoa compare to filming in the outback of Queensland, Australia?

The tropics have been the backdrop of Survivor for so many seasons it was only logical to return. It’s a bit like slipping on your favourite shoes…it just feels right. That being said, I think the outback offered a fantastic point of difference. The rugged landscape both daunting and beautiful at the same time.

But each location presents its own challenges. Interestingly many of the players found Samoa more difficult. Although the outback is extremely hot, the temperature is pretty consistent.

Samoa, however, can be scorching hot during the day and then bitterly cold with torrential rain all night. Imagine being exposed on a beach with only a palm frond for protection. It’s a bit like trying to sleep standing up in the shower with the lights turned out. Not fun.

WATCH NOW: Hayley Leake wins Survivor Brains vs Brawns. Article continues after video.

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What can we expect from the upcoming season?

This season is a cracker! Every year the marketing department yells “THIS IS THE BEST SEASON EVER!!!” But I don’t think it’s hyperbole this time. It certainly felt that way while filming.

The challenges are a little more balanced this time with less emphasis on sheer strength and more opportunity for players’ skills to shine. And more puzzles!

The players really embraced the theme, especially the Villains who had a lot of fun. This lead to some great rivalry and with evenly matched tribes, the challenges were often nail-bitingly close.

With so many great returnees desperate for redemption, the stage was set for a big, fast paced game that does not disappoint. I think the audience is going to love this season.

How do you see the Australian Survivor franchise evolving in the next five to ten years?

That’s going to be up to the producers but I would like to see some of the elements from the most recent US seasons introduced. Tighter game and edit and devices like the Beware Advantage.

I like the idea that every advantage offered comes at a price. It adds another interesting layer to an already complicated game. I think it’s important to keep evolving the show within its framework. It needs to be modern and fresh to keep the audience engaged.

The new season is going to be BIGGER than ever before!

(IMAGE: Instagram)

Can we expect to see an international series of Survivor with former Australian contestants versus the world?

Ha! Yes I’ve seen a lot of fans online very keen for this to happen. To my knowledge we have no plans yet. As for the US….you’ll have to ask Jeff.

You are known for some killer one-liners and epic tribal council monologues, are these scripted, or do you make them up on the spot?

I make everything up on the spot! 😉

Is there anything else that you would like to add about the upcoming season?

Yeah. This is one season you don’t want to miss. It’s going to be EPIC!

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