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A Survivor season didn’t have a winner: France’s all-stars accused of cheating

A Survivor season didn’t have a winner: France’s all-stars accused of cheating
The returning players of Koh-Lanta: La Legende

France’s version of Survivor, Koh-Lanta, has effectively cancelled a season for the third time, this time following allegations that the contestants had been cheating—although this time the entire season actually aired.

In 2013, Koh-Lanta was cancelled during production after a contestant, 25-year-old Gérald Babin, died during the first challenge; the show’s doctor later died by suicide, after saying he’d faced “unfair accusations” that he was responsible.

In 2018, filming of the French Survivor was suspended and then the season was cancelled after allegations of a sexual assault committed by one of the players against another.

Koh-Lanta: La Legende is the French Survivor's 20th anniversary season, which had all returning players
Koh-Lanta: La Legende is the French Survivor’s 20th anniversary season, which had all returning players

Koh-Lanta’s season that began airing on TF1 in August was called Koh-Lanta: La Légende, or Koh-Lanta: The Legend, and was an all-star season on the occasion of the show’s 20-year anniversary. It was filmed in French Polynesia.

It included twists such as Exile Island, called Isle of the Banished, and “Tied Destinies,” a twist in which the final 10 players became pairs that competed together, and if one was voted out, their partner left the game, too.

Koh-Lanta: La Légende’s finale aired yesterday, Dec. 14, and was to have a live reveal of the winner, either Claude or Laurent. Instead, that didn’t happen, and neither won. (Wikipedia’s voting history shows that Claude would have won.)

Koh-Lanta: La Legende's cast during the premiere episode, in a photo posted to social media
Koh-Lanta: La Legende’s cast during the premiere episode, in a photo posted to social media.

The show is produced by Adventure Line Productions, a division of Banijay, which calls the show “one of the most emblematic shows on French television” on its website.

ALP issued a press release Tuesday saying that the reason for the lack of a winner were “breaches” of the “game rules” discovered “several months after the votes of the final jury.”

The production company also said, according to Google’s translation of the French language:

We investigated, and found that indeed a small group of adventurers did not respect this code of honor, by managing to obtain food, a few times, outside of the game.

We are very disappointed that some adventurers chose, voluntarily, to break the Koh-Lanta rules that they know perfectly well but also to break the trust that we had shown them by selecting them for this anniversary edition.

The CBS Survivor rules don’t seem to explicitly ban external food, though it says “contestants may not bring any personal belongings or luggage (except as authorized by or provided by Producer) to the location of the production of the series … except that in Producer’s sole discretion, Contestants may bring one hand-carryable, luxury item pre-approved by producer.”

ALP is donating Koh-Lanta’s prize of €100,000 to the Bertrand-Kamal Fund, which is in honor of a player, Bertrand-Kamal Loudrhiri, who competed in season 25 of Koh-Lanta and died from pancreatic cancer while his season was being broadcast last fall.

The release ended by saying “the shortcomings, of certain adventurers, should not however obscure constant commitment and top performance achieved by the adventurers of this edition of Koh-Lanta. We look forward to seeing you for a new season next year.”

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!

Michael Harmstone

Friday 17th of December 2021

So, a bit of context I can add - they ejected a player from Redemption Island earlier in the season as he paid a local fisherman to sneakily bring him food. Apparently most of the merged tribe were doing similar things, which is what they found out afterwards.

Orion

Thursday 16th of December 2021

As a French person who is also a fan of Survivor, I just want to precise that ''L'Île des bannis'' (Isle of the banished), is the equivalent ofRedemption Island in the US Survivor, not Exile Island And your Google translation of the production's statement is correct