Channel 4’s survival experiment Eden was no paradise: “It gets quite dark – people reverted to their base instincts”

What happens if you leave 23 people to fend for themselves in the Highlands? It all gets a bit Lord of the Flies...

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Eden is no paradise. The survival series – which was taken off-air last summer as the utopian project went sour – is back for a five-night stint on Channel 4 and producers have warned viewers to expect something “quite dark”.

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To recap: last year, Channel 4 rounded up 23 people and sent them to a fenced-off shoreline in the Scottish Highlands to build their own self-sustaining community for a year-long “social experiment”. They were left to fend for themselves and the series launched in the summer of 2016.

But after a measly four episodes, suddenly everything went quiet. Future episodes failed to materialise. Meanwhile the stars of Eden carried on living obliviously off-grid until they were sent home in March.

Now, finally, the show is making a comeback and viewers will be able to watch the entire year unfold across five nights of television. 

Channel 4 commissioning editor Ian Dunkley tells Radio Times magazine: “The participants went in with a rose-tinted view of how society would evolve when you started from scratch, but things went in a different direction. People reverted to their base instincts.”

While the participants had optimistically hoped to establish a new way of living together in society, instead we will see them descend into bullying, factionalism, depression, hunger, chaos and mistrust. 

“It does get quite dark,” series producer Liz Foley agrees. “But it’s what happened and it’s interesting – we didn’t manipulate the story, we just filmed events as they unfolded.”

And was there ever a danger the footage would be scrapped altogether? No, says Foley: “It was always going to return. It would be completely immoral to allow the contributors to think they were still taking part in something that was no longer happening.”

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Read the full feature on Channel 4’s Eden in the new issue of Radio Times magazine, available in shops and on the Apple Newsstand from Tuesday 1st August 2017