Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Castaway 2000 (2000-01)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Castaway 2000 (2000-01)
BBC, tx. 18/1/2000 - 1/1/2001
18 x 50 min editions, colour
Production CompanyLion Scotland
In association withBBC Scotland
ProducerChris Kelly

Thirty-six castaways attempt to survive on the remote Scottish island of Taransay for a year.

Show full synopsis

Settling on the Hebridean island of Taransay for a year, the castaways of this series signed up for sustainable living in a small community with the promise of starting the new millennium away from the pressures of modern life. Selected with help from a psychologist and a survival expert, the participants had to prove their ability to endure tough conditions before being offered a place on the island. The 28 adults and 8 children who were chosen evolved into a community over the course of the year, though not all the participants saw the experiment through to the end.

The project was intended to start on 1st January 2000, but was beset by difficulties when some participants were struck down by flu and the accommodation was not ready in time. This led to several members staying on a nearby island for a few weeks. After a shaky start the islanders set about working the land, managing the livestock and building their community through weekly meetings. Contraband became a source of division in the group, as some sought to maintain the authenticity of the experience while others procured small luxuries from visiting locals.

Unusually the programme did not adopt a 'fly on the wall' format to documenting the experiment. Instead a filmmaker, Tanya Cheadle, lived among the castaways and recorded their experiences. Occasionally Cheadle discussed how this complicated her position and created tensions as she attempted to reconcile her twin roles as observer and group member. A video diary room was also available to the castaways but as this was self-operated some entries were lost through technical error.

A series updating the castaways' progress was broadcast every three months, but the advent of Channel 4's Big Brother in summer 2000 made this approach seem outmoded. Castaway 2000 was also the subject of controversy when one participant left the island with the help of a tabloid newspaper and a family departed complaining of religious discrimination. The inclusion of families differentiated the series from other island-based reality series, including the follow up Castaway 2007. Though some of the participants felt the worthiness of the exercise was damaged by the producers' focus on clashing personalities and arguments, most finished their year-long stay with a fondness for the island and their fellow castaways. The series won enough public affection to be the subject of a spoof in an advertisement for Persil washing powder.

Lisa Kerrigan

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Title sequence (1:17)
2. The Wicker Man (1:10)
3. Contraband (1:27)
4. Community meeting (1:46)
Complete episode (59:08)
Year of the Sex Olympics, The (1968)
Social Experiment TV