Reality show Eden's contestants will spend 12 months completely off the grid in rural Scotland

By Victoria Craw of news.com.au

Jasmine, 24, is a yoga instructor who is used to travelling but is worried about how she will survive the Scottish winter. Photo / Supplied
Jasmine, 24, is a yoga instructor who is used to travelling but is worried about how she will survive the Scottish winter. Photo / Supplied

Imagine the chance to start all over again - what would you want society to look like?

That's the question facing a group of 23 people who have been living in remote rural Scotland since March, with no idea about Trump, Brexit or the drama unfolding in Turkey.

The group aged between 24 and 55 have been dumped at Cul Na Croise bay in the highlands with a few animals, seeds and basic building supplies to take part in a reality show that has no structure, no challenges and no winner.

Channel 4's Eden is designed to give people the chance to create their own world from scratch and see what unfolds.

The series premiered in the UK this week with a first episode showing the group building the kitchen, living shelter and meeting room that will serve them for the next 12 months. While sparks flew for some contestants and early relationships bloomed, others struggled with the lack of leadership and one contestant, Anton, moved out of the communal accommodation.

Yoga instructor Jasmine, 24, who proved an annoyance for some with her lack of work ethic, said she was excited about seeing how the group could live without pollution and waste.

Dog groomer Caroline, 27, said she wanted to see leaders democratically elected rather than "just seeing how it happens".

"I've thought about it quite a lot, because you never know how you're going to come across. Sometimes you have to be told what your character is rather than what you think it is. I think I'm perfect. I'm a reasonable person and I can get my point across without getting angry, but that's what everybody thinks about themselves. I think it's going to be a real eye opener to come back and see what people really think of you," she said.

Dog groomer and shepherdess Caroline said she thinks she is 'perfect' but may be in for a learning curve on the show. Photo / Supplied
Dog groomer and shepherdess Caroline said she thinks she is 'perfect' but may be in for a learning curve on the show. Photo / Supplied

Others included in the show include a doctor, vet, chef, carpenter and rowing instructor who were allowed to bring their tools of trade into the zone with them.

The group also has a flock of chickens, sheep, goats and pigs which they are responsible for looking after and can decide whether to let live or slaughter for meat.

They are filmed by fixed cameras rigged around the site and GoPros on their necks that will capture their every move in a one-way transmission as they fend for themselves in what has been billed as an extreme documentary.

Series editor Liz Foley told The Times the contestants were specifically chosen for their skills and lack of desire for fame and fortune.

"We didn't cast for conflict or drama - it was about the ability to create and sustain the community," she said.

"We wanted it to succeed, to thrive. They each had to bring something tangible to the community, to be everyman, everywoman, doing ordinary jobs rather than a bunch of hippies living in a commune."

Early viewers on Twitter weren't so convinced, with one user calling the contestants a bunch of "fame hungry muppets" and another questioning how it was "starting from scratch" if they have mattresses and supplies.

The crew have been selected for their practical skills and ability to get on with one another, but it won't all be plain sailing. Photo / Supplied
The crew have been selected for their practical skills and ability to get on with one another, but it won't all be plain sailing. Photo / Supplied

The first episode showed nearly all of the contestants revealing how they had jumped at the chance to break out of the drudgery of normal life and live in a simpler way closer to nature.

However psychologist Sally Austen warned producers would need to make sure candidates were robust enough mentally to tackle the challenges they will face.

"It's crucial to know what they're consenting to," she said. "If you go into this thinking I'm going to be the next [reality star turned adventurer] Ben Fogle, there may be some truth about it but it may be you're the one that farts on television and you become known as 'farty Fiona'.

"You may end up on the red carpet or you may end up mocked and you absolutely need to know what you can cope with."

Having vetted contestants for reality shows before, she said there needed to be plenty of discussion upfront about what is acceptable and welcomed news psychologists would be available.

"At one extreme you have a lovely whimsical experience ... but at the other end you've got the Lord of the Flies where people end up dead because the more primitive side of people comes out. Hopefully the reality is somewhere in the middle."

Despite being billed as a documentary, locals have pointed out the contestants will be within a short walk of a pub and chip shop.

Pamela Powell told the local news agency: "This project is not in fact taking place in a very remote wilderness as the publicity suggests. It is only a few kilometres down a good track to Acharacle village and there are houses even closer than that.

"A fence is already going up which, despite what has been claimed, will restrict access between the beaches."

For Caroline, who spends half of the first episode looking for half of her missing flock of sheep, the show is the perfect chance to escape the "suffocation" of social media.

"This is the bravest thing I have every done. I have never even got on a plane by myself," she said.

Former real estate agent and Cavalry Officer Jack, 31, said he was worried about not being able to keep in touch with family and friends and how the structure would work.

"It's only when some people decide that they are not going to chip in as much effort as anyone else that fractures start showing - and that's the point when I think there might have to be some sort of structure," he said.

As for adjusting to normal life once it's all over, Dr Austen said that could prove the hardest part.

"There would be a sense of bereavement, you're lost your friends but also lost your belief and your purpose. People could be quite lost without it," she said.

- news.com.au

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