Koh-Lanta, Back on the Air in 2014

The island of, Koh Rong, where the contestant's death occurred Photo: www.flickr.com/photos/thejollynomad

The island of, Koh Rong, where the contestant’s death occurred
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thejollynomad

On Wednesday, July 31, TF1, the most popular TV channel in France, announced that it is bringing “Koh-Lanta” back on the air in 2014.

“Koh-Lanta,” the French version of “Survivor,” is a reality-based/adventure show where 14 to 20 contestants compete against each other for cash prizes on an uninhabited island with scarce basic resources.

Running successfully and without interruptions from 2001 to 2012, the show was put to a halt on March 23, 2013, after the sudden death of one of the contestants.

The unfortunate incident took place on March 22, right at the beginning of the sixteenth season’s shooting on the island of Koh Rong, Cambodia. During a tug-of-war challenge, Gérald Babin, one of the contestants, began complaining about cramps he was experiencing in his arms. The 25-year-old was first examined by the doctors on the set, who decided to take him to a nearby hospital. However, on his way to receive medical treatment, Babin suffered a series of heart attacks and was later pronounced dead.

His death quickly sparked much controversy. Several media outlets jumped to the conclusion that the on-site doctors and the producers did not act as fast as possible to save the young man’s life.

To deny allegations of having accepted an unhealthy candidate, Adventure Line Production (ALP), the show’s producer, stated that Mr. Babin underwent mandatory medical checks before becoming a contestant.

Amid the turmoil of media accusations and the tragic event, Thierry Costa, the doctor of the show, committed suicide on April 1 in Cambodia. In his suicide note, which was released by ALP and published in the newspaper Le Parisien, Dr. Costa wrote, “Unjust accusations and assumptions have been made against me,” and “I am certain that I treated Gerald in a respectable manner as a patient and not as a contestant.”

Regardless of Dr. Costa’s denial, Babin’s treatment remains a mystery. Sources close to the show claimed that the producers not only postponed giving Babin the necessary treatment by continuing with the shooting but also by delaying the emergency helicopter airlift, which they considered “too costly.” ALP, however, rebuffed these accusations.

The actions undertaken by Babin´s family and French prosecutors will certainly help uncover the truth. The lawyer of Babin’s family, Jeremie Assous, declared on April 1 that they were seeking damages for the “illegal conditions” and “breaches of health and safety” surrounding the death of Babin.

French authorities followed suit by opening a preliminary investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death. After interviewing several witnesses and reviewing footage from the show, the prosecutors decided on July 25, to open a new criminal manslaughter investigation into the death of Babin. In their statement, they made clear that they will mainly be focusing the new judicial investigation on Babin’s heart condition.

Although ALP and Denis Brogniart, the host’s show, may face charges, the prosecutors’ declaration made clear that the investigation will not concentrate on ALP’s attempt to save the deceased.

Having dodged a bullet, TF1 did not wait long to announce the reprisal of the show. The new season will include former participants and, as a consequence of last season’s events, will have additional health precautions.

The announcement comes as no surprise as “Koh-Lanta” is one of the most popular and profitable shows in French TV.

Last year, each episode attracted an average of 7.4 million viewers; in other words, an audience share of 30%, which is above TF1’s average of 22%. In terms of money, the show earned 65 million euros in gross revenues.

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  1. […] TF1, the most popular TV channel in France, announced that it is bringing “Koh-Lanta” back on th… “Koh-Lanta,” the French version of “Survivor,” is a reality-based/adventure show where 14 to 20 contestants compete against each other for cash prizes on an uninhabited island with scarce basic resources. Running successfully and without interruptions from 2001 to 2012, the show was put to a halt on March 23, 2013, after the sudden death of one of the contestants. […]

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