Sun Sand and Black Mambas

Sun Sand and Black Mambas

First Option Safety with Survival of the Fittest


We have been providing on the ground production Health and Safety support for Survival of the Fittest a new ITV2 show that involves two teams of young singles living in the South African Savannah, battling it out against each other in a series of physical and mental challenges. Naturally, this comes with a variety of dangers and health risks!  Working with the ITV Health and Safety Risk Team, our adviser, Adrian Baker, initially spent his time liaising with local workforces during the design of the challenge course and overseeing its construction.  Once filming commenced he was supporting the Production with everything from safety briefings, wildlife management, general hygiene, challenge testing, and first aid response.

Shooting started on February 9th, but we were on location from approximately a month beforehand supporting the construction of the contestant lodge and aiding with challenge course design. Working with the production team we advised on improvements to the design and build of the challenges to manage the risk of injury to contestants.

We helped the production consider the risks associated with a lot of activities on the show and how to minimise them, this covered the positioning padding and physical construction of obstacles. Once we had supported them in establishing some basic the construction crews integrated these into all future designs.

Once shooting commenced our responsibilities didn’t end as we provided practical day-to-day support for the Production team, this involved routine tasks such as briefing the medical teams to ensure they were in the right place and the right time and dealing with general hygiene matters, through to liaising with rangers to ensure safety from local wildlife both at the challenge areas and the contestant lodge, as anything from Zebras to Black Mambas could have caused potential issues. The contestants themselves were briefed prior to their entry to the lodge, followed up by a group briefing to ensure they fully understood potential dangers and their responsibilities.

Survival of the Fittest like any show where contestants are physically challenged presents a variety of safety risks, and the bush and environment add further hazards of their own.  But this production gave us an ideal opportunity to adapt to some interesting circumstances and provided a rewarding challenge, all the way through we were regularly in touch with the ITV Health and Safety Risk Team.

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Paul Greeves