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a blog by Chris Barrow


Thoughts on how to get picked for Series 2 of The Island

Before we start:

  1. I have zero influence with Shine TV and their casting team

  2. I cannot guarantee that what I am going to say will increase your chances

  3. You read at your own peril and it contains strong language

  4. You can ask me any polite question

  5. I don’t need your feedback on whether this is a good post or not

My only qualification is that I made it to series 1 and enjoyed the trip of a lifetime.

I’m not selling anything here – not asking you to vote for me – in fact my principle motivation in writing this post is to gain more followers for my personal blog, as I’ll continue to share periodic thoughts about The Island experience during the summer.

I blog personally as a catharsis, professionally to help grow my business – this post is personal but I’m also vain enough to want other people to read it.

The feedback we have had from Shine TV is that they worked through about 3,000 applications for series 1 and that, last time we spoke, applications for series 2 had topped 77,000 and were still rising.

An astonishing response and an indication of the popularity of the show and the deep-rooted desire in the hearts and minds of many 21st Century Brits to have their own experience of “escape” from the demands of modern life.

Following the tweets and other social media posts during and after the broadcasts was entertaining whilst somewhat predictable:

  1. the feminist thread

  2. the “its all a fake” thread

  3. the “how dare they kill animals for entertainment” thread

  4. and, of course, the “person X is a cock” thread(s)

..but interlaced with all that were some genuine expressions of frustration with the shallowness of the rat race and a desire for “more”, whatever that means.

What I can share with you (and in some ways this perhaps is the last thing I want to say and not the first) is that being on The Island didn’t provide the answers – it simply prompted more questions on the lines of “what matters most?” and “what the hell am I doing all this for?”

Currently I’m searching for solutions, making changes in my own life and enjoying the excellent new book by Arianna Huffington “Thrive”, in which she confesses that her considerable “Power” and Money” haven’t made her happy (read the opening paragraph) and that her search has led to the discovery of her “Third Metric”, namely:

  1. Well-being

  2. Wisdom

  3. Wonder

  4. Giving

Pause – your readers want to know how to get on the show CB – shut up and get on with it

I first noticed a web post about Series 1 in, of all things, a dental on-line magazine in the Autumn of last year and, having just celebrated by 60th birthday (and being in bucket list mood) reacted rather than responded, hit the link to the site and completed the on-line application form with some very blunt and honest comments about my life.

Tip 1 – tell the truth – all of it

The beginning of 2013 was a disaster for me in business – I lost my shirt – and I was brutally honest in my application to The Island that the scars of the events earlier in the year had left me wanting to prove to myself that I was a worthy human being. I’m busy as we speak re-building my business life (and doing very well thank you – it will be a long road) but back in September 2013 my confidence and self-esteem had taken some hard knocks and I needed to show ME that I could still accept a challenge, take a risk and overcome adversity.

A few weeks later I was completely surprised by a phone call from Shine TV and a request to attend a series of telephone interviews. In them, I continued to give very pragmatic answers to questions as to why I should be picked.

Tip 2 – don’t be a diplomat

You will not make it through by towing the line, being politically correct, saying what you “think they want to hear”.

The casting team are experienced professionals, they have a brief as to what to look for (and now the experience of what worked and what didn’t in series 1) and they have done this plenty more times than you have – so if their considerable intuition is that you are bull-shitting – then they can smell it and you will be dropped.

Be the real you.

Having said all that, there are some common sense areas that it would be intelligent to be aware of.

Tip 3 – don’t be a prick

Its not smart, funny or wise to talk about other people in disparaging terms, to single out individuals or groups to be stereotyped or labelled.

An easy 80% of the social media posts during the show were just drivel from pricks.

Defined (by me) as people expressing opinions about people they don’t know, based on superficial facts.

We filmed 2500+ hours on The Island and you saw 5 hours – so the representation of any individual was based on the decisions of the editing team to take 0.2% of the available footage to make a story. Television will inevitably do that and the skill of good editing is to try and have you look through that keyhole and gain a sense of the whole view. The editing team on The Island did a magnificent job but not everyone is as they seemed.

I’ll bet that, like many others, you were surprised and delighted by Episode 6, when the editing team let their hair down and showed you some of the back-stage stuff that we were up to?

Imagine if there had been 13 episodes, one per Islander – you would have learned a lot more about each of us – and we are all fascinating!

If you want to make it to series 2 – give 100% of yourself and let the professionals decide which 0.2% of you they intend to feature. Don’t make it easy for them to choose the wrong 0.2%.

The Island isn’t a game, isn’t a contest – its a social experiment that draws on genuine examples of modern society – please God it doesn’t follow the trend of Big Brother and degenerate into a freak show. Freaks need not apply? Fingers crossed.

If you are lucky, you may well be invited to a filmed audition (I have no way of knowing). If that happens then be good on camera.

Tip 4 – read up on some basic camera awareness

I’m a natural on camera because I have a big ego, crave attention and have done lots of public speaking.

You may have noticed that nobody on series 1 looked very camera shy.

You don’t have to be a complete natural – but you do have to regard the camera as a friend and not develop hives every time it appears. Like anything else it takes practice – so if you get the call – take a friend and a handy-cam somewhere and spend a few hours talking to a camera until any nerves or inhibitions settle down – its an investment that may well pay you back.

In the professional world, you have to learn to be natural. Its a skill.

Tip 5 – get permissions before you get too deep in

We were away from home for 5 weeks and out of contact with our loved ones for 4 weeks.

I’m lucky enough to run my own business but I did ask my family, business partners and clients well in advance of the trip – so that everyone knew exactly what was going to happen.

I heard that one chap made it to the show THEN asked his employers for time off – and was turned down. I cannot imagine how gutted he must have been at the time and, perhaps, even more so when the show aired.

Tip 6 – don’t swot

We were asked NOT to read up on or watch survival shows – and we respected that.

The whole point is “can a bunch of softies survive?” and if you regularly spend your weekends sleeping under hedgerows and rummaging in green wheelie bins in the Lake District then I would suggest your chances are low.

Take 13 SAS experts and drop them on an island – yawn.

Take 13 survival muppets who cannot light a fire – what time is it on?

Tip 7 – manage your expectations and believe in the possibility virus

I had a 1 in 230 chance of making to The Island and I succeeded.

You may have a 1 in 6,000 chance of making it to The Island and you can succeed.

The final team of 2015 islanders will be some of the luckiest people in Britain – firstly because the success of series 1 has assured extra time, money and people for series 2 (we are all very jealous), secondly because the media hype around series 2 will be awesome and thirdly because if you have half the fun we had (in the good times and the bad) you will have more fun than you can imagine.

I came away with new lifelong friends, a little taste of stardom, education in the workings of TV and a new version of me that I like to think is getting better, looking to “Thrive”.

There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON why that cannot be you, if you follow some simple guidelines and act as authentically as you can.

I genuinely wish you every success.

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