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Watch Cambridge man Nathaniel 'Tan' Avital tackle Channel 4's The Island with Bear Grylls from Easter Monday

By Gemma Gardner

Nathaniel (Tan) Avital
Nathaniel (Tan) Avital

Tan is one of castaways dropped on remote Pacific Ocean island - unaware a second group is there

The castaways of Channel 4s The Island with Bear Grylls
The castaways of Channel 4s The Island with Bear Grylls

A Cambridge man battled extreme tropical weather and a lack of food to survive on a uninhabited island.

Nathaniel ‘Tan’ Avital was one of 16 castaways to be abandoned in the remote location in the Pacific Ocean for the fifth series of The Island with Bear Grylls.

“I wanted to see what a life with absolutely nothing would be like,” said Tan, who works as a donor manager. “I knew it would be tough and I would be stretched, though I knew I would stay until the end and be part of a successful group. I wanted to see what a life with absolutely nothing would be like.”

In a twist, this latest series, which will be broadcast from Easter Monday (April 2), sets out to look at the growing wealth divide in the UK – and whether living with vastly different economic circumstances affects our ability to cope in

the wild.

The first group of castaways are all wealthy professionals living off an average income of £100,000 a year while the second group all earn below the UK national average wage of £27,000. They are dropped at either side of the island – and neither group knows the other is there.

Bear Grylls said: “This series tackles the growing wealth divide in the UK. Rarely a day goes by without a report in the press of stagnating wages in often manual sector jobs and skyrocketing rewards within financial services and the like. As British incomes become more polarised, I wanted to explore whether financial success at home makes any difference to people’s survival skills when they’re asked to start again from nothing.

The Island with Bear Grylls 1
The Island with Bear Grylls 1

“The fact that the two groups, one living off an average annual income of £100,000 and the other earning less than the average wage, chose to split up straight away. That was a strange decision in survival terms. Simply because of their difference in class and wealth they chose to set up two separate camps on the same beach. Throughout their 35 days on the island, there was so much talk about class & privilege, yet in reality both those things count for nothing in survival.”

The first episode of The Island with Bear Grylls airs on Easter Monday at 9pm on Channel 4. There are six episodes.

Q&A with Nathaniel ‘Tan’ Avital

What surprised you most about going onto The Island?

The role I took in the group. I became more of a hunter/ builder and had a very hands-on approach to the tasks. I was also shocked at how the lack of food and sleep actually affected me.

How prepared did you feel?

Mentally, I felt prepared enough as my general outlook on life is positive and competitive. I knew that I would succeed in challenging situations. However, I was very unprepared for how a lack of food and sleep would affect me emotionally.

Do you think your profession helped or hindered your ability to survive on The Island?

Helped. 100%. I have worked and continued to work very hard my entire life. Working in a diverse community full of people from different backgrounds and strengths enabled me to quickly find my place in the team based on my own strengths and weaknesses. I put in a lot of time and effort into my job and feel that this was an instrumental part of my success on The Island.

What were your initial thoughts on meeting the other team?

Excited and nervous. I was very pleased to help them through the jungle and build strong relationships. However, I’m not sure that this went the way everyone had hoped.

Did you surprise yourself in anyway when on The Island – for example how well you coped?

I was surprised with my DIY abilities when building shelters. I was very pleased that I contributed to the successful survival of the team through hunting. I was also surprised at how emotional I became when talking about home, I never thought that I would allow food and sleep to have such an impact on my outlook and reactions.

Was anything harder than you expected?

Keeping the fire going and controlling my emotions.

What did you take away from being on The Island?

That my life is incredible and I’m so fortunate to have such a supportive network. I’m very proud of how I handled difficult situations and persevered in hard times. I also learned that it’s OK to fail at times and to expect failure as part of success.

What one thing did you miss the most when you were on the Island that you wish you could have taken with you?

My fiancee, Alice. Or my kitchen.


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