After 20 years, Survivor UK is reportedly set to return in 2023 with a brand new season on BBC One. Unlike previous reports, there seems to be a solid foundation to these latest rumors, with Banijay label Remarkable Entertainment said to be behind the revival.
There are a lot of things Survivor UK needs to get right as it looks to return after two decades off the air, from the format to the editing to the scheduling to the casting. But perhaps just as important as anything else is finding the right host.
The original season was co-hosted by presenters Mark Austen and John Leslie, while the second season saw former cricketer Mark Nicholas take over the role. While all were serviceable, none of them had the gravitas or lasting appeal of the show’s US host (and now executive producer) Jeff Probst.
Probst has his critics, but there is no denying his presence and effectiveness as a host. He is able to be both authoritative and conversational, guiding the flow of action during challenges and tribal council. A good host should bring the best out of the contestants without overstepping the mark or making the show about themselves. This is something fellow international Survivor hosts Jonathan LaPaglia and Nico Panagio also do very well.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some potential hosts for Survivor UK.
Nick Knowles is a long-time BBC presenter who has hosted game shows such as Who Dares Wins and Perfection, as well as the popular DIY series DIY SOS. He’s also helmed various wildlife programs, such as Mission Africa and Wildest Dreams, meaning he has experience filming in harsh conditions. More importantly, he appeared on the 2018 series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here, so he knows what it’s like to participate in a game show from a contestant’s perspective.
Not only does Knowles have the relevant experience to host a show like Survivor, but he has that rough-and-ready presenting style that would fit perfectly with this kind of show. He’s also conversational and able to banter with contestants without coming across as awkward or confrontational.
The downside? Perhaps the BBC will be looking for someone younger to appeal to a younger demographic. Knowles turns 60 in September. Now, as far as I’m concerned, that isn’t an issue. That’s the same age as Probst. Meanwhile, LaPaglia is 52 and Panagio turns 49 later this month. So it’s not as if the Survivor franchise is fronted by twenty-something spring chickens. It all depends on what kind of image the BBC is aiming for with this upcoming Survivor revival.
Verdict: Knowles would be a safe but solid pick.
Knowles would be a safe pick if Survivor wants to stick to what it knows. But if the show wants to move away from middle-aged white men, Zoe Lyons could make for an interesting option. Lyons is a British stand-up comedian from Wales, but she already has a connection to Survivor, having competed in the first season, where she finished in 6th place. Returning over 20 years later to host the show would make for quite the story!
Lyons would obviously bring a more humorous and irreverent approach to the show, but that could do well in putting the contestants at ease. Also, having played the game herself, Lyons could put herself in the players’ shoes, helping her relate to what the contestants are going through. It could make for a really intriguing dynamic, the likes of which we haven’t seen on Survivor before.
The question is whether Lyons could be authoritative in the role. Would she be able to ask tough questions? Would she be able to sell the importance of a vote-off? Or would her friendly and witty personality make the atmosphere a little too relaxed and jovial? After all, her TV experience is mostly as a guest on comedy panel shows, though she did recently start hosting the BBC Two game show Lightning.
Verdict: Lyons would make for an interesting pick if the show is looking for a more humorous tone.
Anita Rani might not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking of potential Survivor hosts, but I think she could be an inspired choice. She is someone that can balance levity and seriousness, depending on the situation, as she has experience presenting news programming in addition to light entertainment formats.
Rani isn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty either, as seen with her work on the BBC series Countryfile, so I’m sure she could cope with the challenging conditions of Survivor. And she does have some background when it comes to hosting game show formats, as she presented Channel 4’s The Answer Trap in 2021. Also, like Knowles and Lyons, she knows what it’s like to be a reality show contestant, having appeared on both Strictly Come Dancing and Great Sport Relief Bake Off.
I think in Rani’s case, it’s not so much would she be a good option, but would she want to do it? If she is open to it, she would be a top prospect for the job.
Verdict: Rani could be an inspired, left-field choice for Survivor host.
Reggie Yates fits a lot of the criteria needed to be a good Survivor host. He is personable, charming, and experienced in various entertainment formats. Of those listed so far, he is the only one to have hosted game shows within the same genre as Survivor; he co-hosted the BBC adventure game show Prized Apart, the ITV2 reality series Release the Hounds, and the children’s game show Escape from Scorpion Island.
Yates also has an excellent ability to connect and converse with a diverse range of people. He started his career working in children’s television before transitioning to radio and, more recently, serious documentary work on his Reggie Yates: Extreme series. This experience of communicating with people across different generations and cultures is a huge benefit for hosting a show like Survivor, which features a wide range of personalities from differing backgrounds.
The only issue is if the BBC thinks Yates is an oversaturated presence, as he has fronted many shows for the broadcaster over the years. And it doesn’t help that Prized Apart absolutely flopped, though that was more of an issue with the game’s format than it was the fault of the hosts.
Verdict: Yates should be a top priority pick when looking for a Survivor host.
On the other hand, the BBC may want to try out some new blood in the hosting role. If that’s the case, you couldn’t go far wrong with Vick Hope. At only 32-years-old, she is still relatively new to the entertainment industry, but she already has experience working on big reality formats such as The Voice, The X Factor, and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here.
Hope has worked across radio and television, serving as a host and reporter on a variety of topics. Earlier this year, she co-presented the BBC’s Britain’s Best Young Artist competition and, most recently, started hosting Vick Hope’s Breakfast Show on ITV. She was also a contestant on the 2018 edition of Strictly Come Dancing.
Incredibly likable, friendly, and intelligent, Hope would no doubt build great camaraderie with potential Survivor players. The only downside is her lack of experience fronting a show of his magnitude, especially as a solo host. Most of her previous work has been studio-based and more focused on the glitz and glamour side of showbiz, as opposed to the rough and tumble of Survivor. But this could be a big opportunity for Hope to spread her wings and for Survivor UK to set itself apart from other versions.
Verdict: Hope could be a risky choice but with a high upside.
If the BBC wants to stick with the familiar but slightly younger-skewing, then Rick Edwards is a safe choice. He has plenty of presenting experience, starting from his days on T4 and Tool Academy up to his more recent work on the BBC quiz show Impossible.
Edwards has that authoritative tone that could serve him well as a Survivor host, and he also has a playful cheekiness that helps soften some of the harder edges. However, his presenting style is often very sarcastic, which can sometimes come across as dismissive or belittling. If he doesn’t strike the right balance, it could appear as if he is undermining the whole Survivor process.
Verdict: Edwards would be another solid pick but with some potential pitfalls.
Let us know your suggestions for Survivor UK hosts below.