”Eden:Paradise Lost” is a documentary, more precisely a social experiment in form of a television series which was originally broadcast on 8th August 2017 at 10 pm. According to the Channel 4 remit, which could be split in four main categories, namely “to champion unheard stories,to innovate and to take creative risks,to inspire change in the way we lead our lives and to stand up for diversity across the UK.” (Channel 4,2017), this reality television show suits the programme because its whole philosophy revolves around the question “What if we could start again?”, so “Channel 4 executives could have been forgiven for wondering the same.” (The Guardian,2017) The timeslot seems appropriate for an older audience, considering that the show involves a strong language and even animal slaughter during some episodes.
The name of the show could have multiple connotations, yet the concept of it resembles a lot with the Eden of the first people on Earth, Adam and Eve, who did not have anything apart from the guidance of God.
However, the cast of the show were left with nothing and with no one to rely on other than themselves and their own powers. For an entire year, 23 men and women chose to embark on the mission to build a new society from scratch in a remote corner of northern Scotland and to showcase a revolutionary way of living away from the modern world. The emphasis on their road to survival, the emotions that they constantly put on display, their own personal fears that they have to overcome, as well as the team work between them in order to accomplish their purpose were meant to keep the audience’s suspense and curiosity. Contrary to everyone’s initial belief, “The series launched with four hour-long episodes on Channel 4 in summer 2016, but then nothing.Eden entirely vanished from the schedules while the contestants continued to survive–rather than thrive–completely unaware that they were left stranded without an audience.” (RadioTimes,2017) Moreover,one of the main reasons was represented by the low viewing figures “Eden was pulled from screens after racking up rating highs of just 800,000 viewers.” (Daily Mail Online,2017) and it suddenly “descended into a mess of bullying, misogyny and fistfights.” (The Herald,2017)
By the time 2016 was over, only ten contestants remained out in the wilderness. As a result, “Eden:Paradise Lost” was born and it “will show how their story unfolded across five nights.” (RadioTimes,2017) The new show suffered some alterations compared with the previous one, particularly “Eden: Paradise Lost is darker, though, largely because the 10 people who stuck it out to the end gave a whole year of their lives to what they thought would be a demonstration of resilience, a back-to-basics examination of what it means to live without the trappings of the modern world.” (The Guardian,2017) Also,Ian Dunkley, the broadcaster’s commissioning editor, believed it will bring “a Lord of the Flies-type narrative that will draw in viewers.” (RadioTimes,2017)
Surprisingly enough, Channel 4 didn’t see this necessarily as a failure, as the series producer Liz Foley considered it a success, mainly because “we didn’t manipulate the story, we just filmed events as they unfolded. Whether the society that evolved is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is not for me to judge, but there was a community built and some amazing, lifelong friendships made, so as a social experiment it worked.”(RadioTimes,2017)
- Channel4.com. (2017). Channel 4’s remit | C4 Corporate. [online] Available at: https://www.channel4.com/corporate/about-4/what-we-do/channel-4s-remit [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017].
- Tate, G. (2017). Bullying, cliques and fistfights: secrets from Eden, the reality show that nobody watched. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/aug/04/eden-paradise-lost-reality-show-nobody-watched [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017].
- Harrison, E. (2017). What is Eden on Channel 4 and why is everyone talking about it?. [online] Radio Times. Available at: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-08-07/what-is-eden-on-channel-4-and-why-is-everyone-talking-about-it/ [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017].
- Mail Online. (2017). Eden contestants WALK OUT out of the show after one breaks the rules. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4768292/Eden-contestants-walk-Channel-4-reality-TV-show.html [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017].
- HeraldScotland. (2017). Paradise lost: how reality TV show Eden was cast into darkness. [online] Available at: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15456341.Paradise_lost__how_reality_TV_show_Eden_was_cast_into_darkness/ [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017].
- Nicholson, R. (2017). Eden: Paradise Lost review – not quite a Lord-of-the-Flies descent into carnage. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/aug/08/eden-paradise-lost-review-not-lord-of-the-flies-carnage#img-1 [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017].
- nightmare, E. (2017). Eden on Channel 4: The social experiment that began with a dream but ended in a nightmare. [online] Radio Times. Available at: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-08-07/eden-on-channel-4-the-social-experiment-that-began-with-a-dream-but-ended-in-a-nightmare/ [Accessed 14 Oct. 2017].