Simon Black became the fifth member of the Australian Survivor jury tonight, in a tense episode that left viewers on the edges of their seats.
After a shock blindside saw him sent to Exile Beach alongside Daisy Richardson, Simon briefly managed to fight his way back to the tribe. But, a tumultuous afternoon back in the tribe led to elimination for the 39-year-old Champion.
TV WEEK caught up with Simon to find out all about his time on Exile Beach, his elimination and what the cameras didn't show.
When you heard your name at tribal council the first time, when you were sent to Exile Beach, how did you feel?
Yeah it was pretty confronting, certainly I was shocked. You go in to every tribal council, never completely comfortable because you know anything could happen, but yeah I…. I'd actually tried to get Abbey out last night, it wasn't really shown, but I knew there was a chance I could get blindsided because I was working with Luke and Harry to pull that move off. So, yeah, when it happened I was like 'oh, ok!' but I was up for the challenge. I mean, Daisy had been out there for nights and she'd copped that storm as well so I felt bad, but I actually quite enjoyed the experience.
Think that's the first time we've heard that! You had fun on Exile Beach? Was it because it gave you time away from everyone?
Yeah totally, gave me the time to get away from everyone for a night after 40 days! Yeah and it's a beautiful beach, you wake up to this pristine cove. It brought Daisy and I closer together because I really felt for what she'd been through on Exile Beach, it really was the worst storm in Survivor history and she was by herself without fire, it was tough for her. But, it was a cool experience... though I was pretty nervous to go to the challenge.
What was your plan when you got back to camp?
I was pretty angry when I got back to camp. They were all going for firewood and I was like 'screw you, I'm going to go look for an idol.' So, I actually found two fake clues – one that Harry had planted and one that Luke had planted – so I was digging holes, I had a bit of a rage because the gloves were off. I'd put a lot of faith in relying on my alliance and I thought they all wanted me out, so that's why I was putting all my energy in to trying to find this idol that just wasn't there.
You weren't very secretive about looking for idols. Was that just because you were fairly certain you were being sent home?
Yeah I had discussions with people around camp obviously, but I just had the feeling that the numbers were against me.
What was the vibe like at tribal council? How did you think people were leaning based on conversations you'd had?
I was pretty sure I was in trouble! I knew I was up against it and people had clearly made their minds up. I tried, but it obviously didn't work.
What do you think of Harry's commentary about your game play? Were you annoyed by his criticism?
No, not really. He was clutching at straws for a long time playing, he said what he had to say and he did find a couple of idols and whatever, but I had the numbers. I had a good alliance and I didn't need to play the game [like him] up until that point. What it didn't show was that I'd actually tried to blindside Abbey, to work with Luke, Harry and Baden but yeah… it's just what it is!
Are there any hard feelings towards the tribe for voting you out?
It's just a game at the end of the day and you do whatever you can to get through. I'd have loved to be the Sole Survivor and win the whole thing, but at the same time I made it to 42 days and it was an awesome experience, so there are no hard feelings. It's such a privilege to play that game, it's a real highlight of my life.
Tell us about when you got to Jury Villa, were you shocked by your appearance? How much weight had you lost?
Yeah, so I lost 9kg and I looked in the mirror and just thought I looked like a teenager again. I was pretty shocked!
Did you keep the Survivor beard for a little while?
You know what, I think I kept it for 24 hours and then I'd had enough. But my two boys are like 'you should have kept it!'
What was it like to speak with your family after being away so long?
I was emotionally drained by the end of the game and I was so emotional [talking to my family]. Watching Survivor in the past I didn't quite get how emotional people become, but after the experience of being in that environment… you're stripped bare from the lack of food, poor quality sleep and mind games, so it really strips you down emotionally. But, it was an incredible experience.
What was it like to be in Jury Villa and spend time together with the others, without scheming and being paranoid about what everyone else is doing?
For the first few days, whenever you talk to someone, you're like 'are you really serious? Are you meaning what you say?' so it took a little while to adjust, no doubt. It's so intense in the game and then you need to work out that people aren't playing the game any more, and you can trust them. Your mind is in that sort of 'survival' mindset and you get really protective and yeah, it takes a while to let that go!