The secret is out: the number of castaways who will be playing the game of Survivor with sporting legends Mark Fish and Corné Krige in Survivor SA: Champions is twenty. And, these fit and feisty contenders will battle it out over 27 days on a desolate island in the South China Sea.
While M-Net is rewriting worldwide Survivor history by using sports stars as tribe leaders who can’t be voted off, the twenty Survivors are all ordinary citizens who’ll do whatever is needed to win the coveted title of Ultimate Survivor and the accompanying booty of R1 Million rand in cash.
While the gender spread is even – ten men and ten ladies – the new group of Survivor SA castaways come from an array of backgrounds and occupations: from a helicopter pilot, HR director and astrophysicist to a farrier and mortuary attendant. There are also some highly-competitive sports people, including a decathlon champion, rugby players and a martial arts guru as well as Survivor fans who’re entering the game with intricate strategies. Not to forget the out-and-proud gay wedding planner and ditzy city blonde.
“But don’t be fooled by appearances, stereotypes or anything these Survivors tell you,” says M-Net’s Head of Publicity and Special Projects, Lani Lombard. “They are all multi-faceted individuals who are desperate to be the next Survivor and who will deliver plenty of surprises.”
To find out more about these 20 Survivors, get the latest edition of You, Huisgenoot and Drum. You can also read more about journalist Loren Pienaar’s experiences on the island here for the English version, and here for the Afrikaans version.
Don’t miss the premiere episode of Survivor South Africa: Champions on M-Net on Sunday, 19 January 2014 at 17:30.
Watch Survivor on M-Net every Sunday at 17:30. For DStv Compact viewers, there’s a repeat on Saturdays on M-Net Series Zone at 13:00. Stay up to date with all the latest Survivor SA news on Facebook and by following @Survivor_SA on Twitter.
Age: 29 Hometown: Durban Occupation: SAAF Helicopter Pilot Original Tribe: Selatan
Altaaf, born and bred in Durban, always wanted to be a helicopter pilot and made his big dream come true by joining the SANDF. His other passion is sport – and on that front, became the first Indian to play rugby for the SAAF. The fast full-back and wing also completed the Air Force’s Survival course with flying colours.
Altaaf ran out of luck at the wrong time during the Waterworld challenge, when he was unable to grab the ring with the grappling hook after several attempts. With Utara catching up fast, Corne took the hook from him, but Selatan had squandered their lead and lost their shot at immunity.
Insisting on playing the game ‘straight’ , he was roped into Graham’s alliance and played his part in ousting Ashleigh. “My word’s my bond” he told Gena, who made him ‘pinkie swear’ his allegiance.
Fingered by Marsha, along with Gena, in her strategic blunder, he was happy to go with the Rugrats’ decision to vote Marsha out, as he felt the tribe was already fragile and didn’t need people ‘causing tension’.
A calm player, Altaaf remains a member of the Rugrats but appears happy to go along with Graham & Gena’s decisions.
Age: 22 Hometown: Pinelands Occupation: High School Teacher Voted Out: Episode 1
Fresh-faced 22-year old Ashleigh looks as if she could still be in high school herself. Appearances can be deceiving, though – she’s the mother of an 18 month boy and does podium dancing in her spare time. Ashleigh studied with the help of a bursary and intense tenacity: first a BA in Film, Ballet and Choreography before following up with a teaching diploma. The sexy flirt from Cape Town says she always gets what she wants – either by wrapping people around her little finger, or by plain hard work.
Initially astonished by the size of her competitors, Ashleigh said that they would “walk over her”. Vocal during the Towers of Hanoi challenge, she had a tougher time during Waterworld when she hung back on the shipwreck as the rest of her tribe leapt into the water.
In Episode 2, Ashleigh, Philip, Zavion and Marsha quickly formed an alliance and roped in Moyra. They slipped up while trying to include Graham, when they excluded Moyra’s name from their alliance list. Graham told Moyra, sowing mistrust immediately and doing exactly the opposite of what the original foursome were trying to achieve. Confident that her alliance was running the show, she was dumbfounded when her name came out of the box 6 times and she was sent home.
Age: 35 Hometown: Northcliff Occupation: Entrepreneur Original Tribe: Utara
Self-employed events planner and entrepreneur Buhle holds a Social Sciences Degree from the University of Natal. This strong-willed Zulu-speaking mother won’t stand for anything fake, but is always willing to lend a helping hand. She has run a certified Project Management business that was involved in the 2010 Soccer World Cup – she’s a keen soccer player herself! From humble beginnings, Buhle has become a global citizen who now regularly travels to diverse destinations across Europe, China, Canada and the African continent.
Buhle struggled during Episode 1’s Waterworld challenge when her inability to swim let her down. Despite her struggles, her team pulled through and picked up the vital first Immunity Challenge win.
Selected as a weak competitor by Mark and sent to the Fire Fight challenge with Sonette, she redeemed herself by picking up a win for her tribe and returning with the vital fire-making kit. “I’m here. I’m not done. I’m not going anywhere,” she said in her interview.
A scorer for her team during the ‘Magic Boot’ challenge along with Solly, she helped secure the Immunity Idol for Utara for the second time in a row.
Handed a lifeline by Zan when he gave her the tribe’s only flint during Tribal Council in Episode 5, Buhle subsequently worked harder to be a valuable member of Utara.
She welcomed the switch to Selatan in Episode 7, saying she felt more comfortable with her new tribe mates than she had at Utara.
Age:28 Hometown: Bellville Occupation: Financial Manager Original Tribe: Selatan
Graham is a charming, ambitious all-rounder and analytical thinker who is as comfortable behind the books as he is on the sports field. Newly-promoted at a major bank, Graham already has two degrees and is studying towards a third. At school he played provincial hockey and basketball and loved being on stage, acting in dramas. All moms would love to have him as a son-in-law, but he’s taken – by his girlfriend of ten years.
Graham showed his competitive spirit during the Waterworld challenge by playing a role in helping Selatan gain a massive lead, which they ultimately squandered, losing their shot at Immunity. He played Zavion perfectly ahead of Tribal Council, making the Wedding Planner believe that he was running the show. Heading up the Rugrats alliance, he roped in Moyra, Gena, Altaaf, Shona and David to oust Ashleigh.
Confronted by Zavion after Tribal Council, his reaction showed him to be a calm and calculating player. He’s remained largely below the radar at camp, despite calling the shots each time Selatan were summoned to Tribal Council.
Despite thanking Philip for the entertainment at Tribal Council in Episode 6, he still played his part in voting the fire fighter out.
Age: 34 Hometown: Claremont Occupation: HR Director Original Tribe: Selatan
HR Directors are known for their diplomacy, emotional intelligence, mediation and negotiation skills – and Moyra is no exception. Apart from sporting an Honours degree in Industrial Psychology, Moyra is an avid marathon runner who has completed the Two Oceans. Living a healthy, balanced life is a priorty for this vegetarian. Her kitchen has been meat-free for the last seventeen years.
Picked last, by default, by Corne she bemoaned the fact that she didn’t come across as a ‘tough girl’ and promised to show her true colours.
Called into the Rugrats alliance to help oust Ashleigh, Moyra grew in stature as the game progressed – but received a serious black eye when Philip revealed during his final Tribal Council that she had also kept the sugar cane stash secret from the tribe.
With her neck on the line should her tribe lose the Immunity Challenge, she was offered a reprieve by the upheaval of the tribe shuffle. A win in the Immunity Challenge bought her some time to win back the trust of the Rugrats and Corne – though Graham may have it in for her after thanking Philip for the ‘intel’ about the sugar cane during his vote at the previous Tribal Council.
To be a firefighter and paramedic, means you have to be tough, fast and fearless. This KZN hero has all of that, plus a beautiful voice. Before graduating in the Top 5 of his class, Philip sang in a church band in the USA. Among his other hobbies, he counts fishing, running and training and to prepare for Survivor SA, he studied game theory.
Phillip struggled to assert himself during the Episode 1, before seizing an opportunity to scale a tree as his tribemates dithered and helped secure the tarpaulin in camp. “This is my island and I’m not going home,” he proclaimed during his one-on-one. He’d been vocal during the Captains’ Challenges, encouraging Corne and berating Mark’s efforts, particularly during the Reverse Sumo challenge.
Zavion roped him in on an alliance with Marsha and they decided that Shona had to go. He found some sugar cane and hid it, claiming it as a source of energy that would give him an advantage over his tribe mates. He later secretly shared it with Moyra in a bid to curry favour. Succeeded in starting a fire with Zavion and Corne to give his tribe a chance to eat the rice Corne and Zavion had won in the ‘Reverse Sumo’ challenge.
Got a huge shock at Tribal Council in Episode 3 when votes started coming his way and could only look skywards and thank his lucky stars when Marsha was eliminated. He worked hard to win his tribe’s – and the Rugrats’ – trust again and made himself an indispensible fisherman after they won the fishing gear at the winching challenge. He had a target on his back, though, and was only saved from elimination by Shona’s ill-advised decision to steal the Hidden Immunity Idol.
His abrasive nature and extremely competitive nature at challenges – where he repeatedly lost his temper with David – saw him unpopular despite his status as the main provider of food. Sensing his departure was looming in Episode 6, he approached Zavion unsuccessfully about toppling Moyra and then played his final card, asking Corne to play the Idol. Corne appeared to be on the fence, but when it was revealed at Tribal Council that he’d kept his sugar cane stash from the tribe, the former Bok Captain made his displeasure clear and refused to ‘abuse’ his power, not standing in the way of the tribe’s decision to send the Firefighter home.
Shona is the quintessential ditzy blonde. She knows people think she’s an airhead and can’t help but meet their expectations. If you’re looking for a class-act class clown, look no further. To prepare for the game she waxed everywhere, had a gel pedicure and gave herself a fake tan. Shona also read “The Art of War” and packed a wind-up radio, in case the Survivors were allowed to take a luxury item into the game. There’s almost no end to the wacky repertoire of this natural-born cheerleader.
“Stroke… and stroke… and stroke…” was Shona’s rallying cry on the raft as she set about trying to add value, without actually doing any work. As her screams echoed over the waves, a few of her competitors couldn’t help but smile wryly as the ‘ditzy blonde’ lived up to the stereotype. She’d singled out Zavion – the guy with “quite a nice hairstyle” on the boat. She also set about being busy when the tribe built their shelter on the beach, trying to make herself indispensible.
Targeted by Zavion as a weak link, she was only saved when roped into the Rugrats alliance. After failing to bring back fire for her tribe – though they had it anyway – she did return with a clue to the location of the Hidden Immunity Idol and played her part perfectly in distracting the tribe while David went off and found it. Thinks she’s controlling David, but he’s the one with the Hidden Immunity Idol in his underwear.
Her growing unease with David’s control of the Idol sent her over the edge in Episode 5, where she demanded to know the hiding place and then stole it. When David discovered it was gone – and that Shona was the only person who knew about it – he confronted her in front of the group. The tribe made a decision to give the Idol to Corne for safekeeping, bringing him into the game he’d worked so hard to stay out of – but the mistrust Shona had sown was enough to send her home.
Age: 32 Hometown: Kathu Occupation: Sports Manager Original Tribe: Utara
Solly is a street-smart, athletic sportsman who grew up in Hillbrow, studied at RAU and is now the Sports Manager of a country club in small-town Katu in the Northern Cape. One of his best-loved playgrounds is the gym. He also managed gym franchises in Johannesburg, and while his imposing rugby body poses a physical threat to men, he is used to having women around him – even in his childhood, before he started pumping iron.
In Episode 1, he made an immediate impression on the other contestants due to his size, with Shona singling him out as one of the first people she’d spotted on the raft. Having asserted himself in his one-on-one interview as ‘the captain’ and saying he’d take whatever he wanted, when required, he was comprehensively beaten by Zavion in the Reverse Sumo challenge. He later redeemed himself when he helped Utara come from behind to win the Waterworld challenge and pick up the Immunity Idol at the end of Episode 1.
A physical threat – but also a drain on resources – Solly butted heads with Zan ahead of the Vehicle Salesman’s near-voluntary elimination. Shone against Makhaya Ntini in the ‘Crate Smash’ challenge and again against Jonty Rhodes in Episode 6’s Immunity Challenge, saying that he had to continue to put in ‘Man of the Match performances’ to keep Utara afloat.
His brawn is a valuable addition to his new tribe, who now boast near-unassailable power with Zavion already in their ranks. Let the Alpha Male battle commence.
Age: 26 Hometown: Mabopane Occupation: Actress Original Tribe: Utara
Gorgeous and petite, Vel has starred in films on Mzansi Magic and AfricaMagic. But she also has a tomboyish streak and often swaps her stilettos for designer sneakers. She has a Code 14 and bike license and runs her dad’s vehicle testing station in Hammanskraal. Vel was born in Pretoria, went to arts school Pro Arte in Alphen Park and is proud of her Tswana heritage.
Couldn’t hide her delight at being shuffled over to Selatan, saying that their cam was far more comfortable and welcoming.