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tigers vs sharks

As 'Shipwrecked' returns this week, let's look back at the most underrated reality show of the 00s

Pre-watershed TV at its finest.

IF YOU TOO found yourself passively watching The Day After Tomorrow on E4 for the 68th time in your life, you might have seen some ads pop up for a new series of ‘Shipwrecked: Battle of the Islands’.

Yep, the Sunday morning T4 staple returns this month with another convoy of castaways ready to fight like rabid dogs over whether they’re a Tiger or a Shark.

Sorry, what the hell are you talking about?

While ‘Shipwrecked’ started out as more of a Bear Grylls-style experiment, the reality show as we know it developed into an amalgamation of ‘Big Brother’, ‘Survivor’ and ‘Love Island’.

A handful of people named things like ‘Lottie’ and ‘Scouse Ben’ are dumped on remote deserted islands and divided into two teams – the Sharks and the Tigers, competing to win a cash prize. These are usually people who’ve never left home before, are fresh out of college or described as “London chicks” and “aspiring radio DJs”. 

A new contestant arrives every week and spends half the week with one team and half the week with the other before deciding which team he or she would like to stay with. The team with the most members at the end of the show’s five-month run share the prize money.

Contestants are free to leave at any time and can also nominate themselves to change teams at the weekly beach party. If the other team votes to accept them they can then swap islands, if not they have to stay with their original team.

Each island must have a minimum of 5 people at all times – nominations are only allowed if an island has six or more people. 

Given that this aired mid-morning on T4, the show didn’t provide balls-to-the-wall controversy – though given the way the way the contestants went on, you’d think staying on the show was a matter of life or death (perhaps something the producers can consider for future series?)

Seriously though, the sheer level of crying on this show … Far too much.


One of the standout moments from the show’s history came in the form of professional rat James in 2006.

Having landed on Tiger island and subsequently alienating everyone on there because he was an arrogant gobshite, he bartered with the Sharks and took on the role of mole for them …

… Much to the suspicion and chagrin of the Tigers, obvs.

shipwrecked06 / YouTube


Can’t see the video? Click here.

One Tiger member called the initial time she spent with James as “the worst two days of my life”. A claim to fame, if nothing else.

He went on to rob a load of stuff from his cast mates as a way of showing his commitment to the Sharks, only for it to spectacularly backfire when they rejected his nomination to swap over. 

And who could forget the third island?!

The 2008 series introduced a third secret island, in which exiled contestants were sent to. It was supposed to be “harsher” and “more dense” than the other two islands, but had one big advantage in the form of a survival expert. So, be grand, like?

The Hawks gave us Sarah and her sunset speech, in which she attempted to get #deep with her fellow castaways about how everyone who’s ever lived has seen the same sunset … Or something.

sarah Channel 4 Channel 4

Poor Michael then thought he was going home, and was none to plussed when he copped he was actually going to a “reject island”. Ouch.

michael Channel 4 Channel 4

In fairness, that’s news that would be hard to swallow given that it was delivered by a gal dressed like this:


“Heading to a deserted tropical island for four months, what do I need? Can’t forget my Kerrang scarf and beanie, in fairness.”

For whatever reason, the old series aren’t available on All 4, but you can watch select episodes on YouTube, in that classic 240p. 

It’s worth it though to witness this colossal Shark defeat from 2008. It’s uploaded in two parts because YouTube was a bad, bad place back then.

shipwrecked2008 / YouTube

Can’t see the video? Click here.


It’ll be interesting to see where this reboot fits in this new reality TV landscape, where bigger is nearly always better. A post-watershed time slot might buoy its viewership, but so many elements borrowed from shows past, it’s unclear whether ‘Shipwrecked’ will have a place in the post-’Love Island’ timeline. 

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