Since launching in the US in 2000, Survivor has gone on to become one of the biggest reality TV franchises in the world and is often referred to as “the greatest game on Earth”.
From the intense challenges and extreme conditions to the jaw-dropping Tribal Councils and epic blindsides, the series is the perfect combination of “I could never do this” and “I really want to play this game”.
With Australian Survivor set to return on January 29 with another nail-biting season, here’s everything you need to know about the format, rulebook, and what to expect.
So, how does Australian Survivor work?
The main aim of Survivor is to outwit, outplay and outlast your fellow contestants. Simple, right?
The Australian version begins with 24 players split into two teams, which are typically categorised into opposing characteristics or statuses. This year’s theme is Titans v Rebels, while previous seasons have been subtitled Heroes v Villains, Champions v Contenders and Brains v Brawn.
Not only are the contestants marooned in an isolated location - this year it’s Samoa - but they also have to compete in various physical and mental challenges to win rewards including food, tools and Immunity. When one team wins Immunity, the other team is forced to attend Tribal Council where they must vote a player out of the game in a secret ballot.
Contestants are also able to find various advantages throughout the game, including Hidden Immunity Idols that can be used after votes are cast but before they’re read out at Tribal Council and save a player from going home.
This year’s season will see the game last 47 days, with tribes occasionally swapping players until they eventually merge around the halfway mark and start competing for Individual Immunity. Most players voted out at this stage become members of the Tribal Council Jury.
Once the game has whittled down to just two or three contestants, the remaining players must convince the Jury at the Final Tribal Council why they should win the game. The Jury members then vote for who they think most deserves the title of Sole Survivor and the grand prize of $500,000.
What are the rules for Australian Survivor?
Before the game even begins, contestants must disclose their full medical history and agree to abide by both Australian and local laws during filming.
Players only enter the game with the clothes on their back - which have to be pre-approved by producers and often match their team’s colour - and then they are given five additional clothing items of their choice on day three. They also receive a water bottle and a bag to carry their items.
Contestants are not allowed to steal any personal items, including Hidden Immunity Idols, although they are allowed to go through each other’s bags.
Unless they win rewards throughout the game, the only food the contestants are given is rice and kidney beans. They can also eat anything they can forage near the camp including coconut, papaya and fish, although rare and endangered species cannot be hunted and certain locations are off-limits.
Contestants are also only allowed to make their shelter using certain flora and producer-given materials.
When it comes to challenges, all contestants are required to attend regardless of whether or not they are participating. A tribe may forfeit a challenge if they unanimously agree, and players are not allowed to assist their competitors during individual challenges.
It’s also forbidden for players to conspire about splitting the prize money, and contestants may be evacuated from the game for medical reasons.
What happens if there's a tie at Tribal Council?
If two or more people receive the same amount of votes at Tribal Council, there will be a revote where contestants can only vote for the players involved in the tie. Hidden Immunity Idols or any other advantages cannot be used at revotes, although they may still be in effect if they were played before the original vote.
If the revote results in another tie, the players then hold an open discussion to unanimously decide who should be sent home. If they cannot come to a unanimous decision, the players involved in the tie become immune while the non-tied players become at risk of being sent home.
The non-tied players must draw from a bag of rocks and the person who draws the odd-coloured rock is eliminated from the game.
There has never been a tie at the Final Tribal Council on Australian Survivor so it is unknown what would happen in this event. However, if there are three players at the Final Tribal Council and the Jury vote results in a tie between two people, the third person would cast the deciding vote.
Other voting rules are that you cannot vote for yourself or someone that has immunity and you cannot refuse to vote.
What is the fitness test to appear on Australian Survivor?
Contestants are required to pass a simple fitness test before joining the show which is designed to assess their mobility, physicality and general health. While the test is extremely simple, it’s part of the show’s duty of care to ensure all players will be able to take part in the challenges and last 47 days on the island.
1 - Walk or run 1600m in less than 20 minutes.
2 - Complete 10 push-ups on your knees in one minute.
3 - Do one squat where your hips are lower than your knees.
4 - Lift a 10kg weight from the ground and touch your shoulder.
5 - Carry a 10kg weight however you like for 20m.
6 - Lay on the ground on your stomach and stand up.
Of course, Survivor isn’t just a physical game and also requires mental strength and strong communication skills. With every season different to the last, who knows what gameplay, drama and surprising twists will go down this year!
The new season of Australian Survivor premieres Monday, January 29 at 7:30pm on 10 and 10 Play.
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