Naked and Afraid: Discovery’s nude travel survival show begins this week

What happens when you throw a naked military alpha male into the Serengeti plains, with a naked educated, strong woman? finds out…

In a nutshell, survival in the buff is the concept of Discovery Channel’s new show Naked and Afraid (9pm, September 12). Over six episodes, in six different world locations – including the Louisiana swamplands, the Borneo jungle, a Panamanian island and wild Tanzania – two people who have never met (one man, one woman) have to survive for 21-days without any clothes. Although the really nudey bits are blurred, viewers will see a lot of flesh, flashes of buttocks and heaps of battle-of-the-sexes survival drama. 


While birthday suits may seem like a cheap ploy on Discovery Channel’s part to get better ratings, we have to admit that the lack of clothing really adds another dimension to the bog standard survival show format – try lasting in 40 ºC heat with only mud for sunscreen and sleeping in the dirt, where insects, poisonous snakes and creepy crawlies are lurking, with no fabric to protect you.  

Visit wild Africa with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details

Military beefcake EJ Snyder and Alaska adventure guide Kellie Nightlinger feature in the second episode of the show – Terror in Tanzania – where the pair are dumped in the wild with nothing except their bare flesh, a bowl and a knife.

“When they told me that the show would entail being naked for 21 days, I had an initial shock,” explains Nightlinger after she signed up for the caveman/ woman-style challenge. “I threw my clothes into the Land Rover and then watched them drive away, I suddenly realised how psychologically vulnerable I was.”

“For me it was the Super Bowl of survival challenges,” explains Snyder who lost around 50 pounds [3.57 stones] during his 21 days in the wild. As well as contending with a lack of food and water, the nakedness brought around a whole new set of threats. The survivalists found being barefoot a major problem. “It was extremely challenging,” says Nightlinger, “there were giant acacia tree thorns every step we took.” Meanwhile, Snyder got bedsores from sleeping in the dirt and unusual creatures living on him, “I wound up with some mites under my arm at one point from the grass, and I remember they were like eating out my armpit. It was the weirdest thing.”

As well as the real risk of starvation, dehydration and being attacked by deadly creatures, the couple in the episode had to contend with five of the world’s most poisonous snakes. “I don’t think in our condition we were ready to tangle with any black mambas or spitting cobras,” says Snyder, while Nightlinger was more concerned with the poisonous sap in their beds. “We were digging rocks out of our bed and this tree had its roots and rootlets underneath us and the white milky sap is poisonous… it was a daily concern,” she explains.

Visit wild Borneo with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details

As with all survival shows, if something goes seriously wrong the stars would have help from the camera crew, right? Wrong. “People think, ‘oh well, you had a camera crew part of the time. No, no, they wouldn’t have let you die,’” says Snyder. “The thing is, they’re camera crews documenting our docu-series and it’s not their job to be survivalists, it’s our job, and we were in a brand new continent that neither of us had ever been on. We knew nothing about the plants. A lot of the things that you would normally know in your home community, in your home area – what plants are edible and what can help you and what can kill you – we didn’t know that in Africa.”

Things went from bad to worse for the naked duo in the wilderness. As well as nausea and diarrhea, Snyder got an infection in his foot and Nightlinger had two periods back to back. “I’ve never experienced that,” explains Nightlinger, “my body was wanting to make sure that there was no way that I could [get pregnant] – basically conserving all of my energy. Our muscles were cannibalising ourselves.”

This series offers more than a peek at a few unmentionables, it offers a strong message about persisting in the face of adversity, overcoming psychological barriers and physical difficulties – it quite literally strips away everything we know. Nightlinger offers a final thought: “our biggest, strongest message is whatever the obstacles in life – never give up”.

Watch Naked and Afraid episode one at 9pm, September 12 on Discovery Channel

Visit wild Africa with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details

Watch the Naked and Afraid trailer here: