At first glance, Channel 5's new reality challenge series 10,000 BC looks a lot like a cheapo take on The Island with Bear Grylls. It features 20 British volunteers (women too, this time) testing their survival skills, as they attempt to live like our prehistoric ancestors in a remote Bulgarian forest. Only Channel 5 has something Bear Grylls didn't: an unlimited supply of divvies, with zero experience of the great outdoors.
"Yeah, I was born in the Seventies," conceded lorry driver Paul, "but I believe I was born 10,000 years too late." Riiight. And from there, the stated reasons for taking part became ever more troubling. Mike, the firefighter, was there because, "I want to be able to make fire", while electrician Oliver confessed he'd "always had warped and sadistic dreams of apocalypse situations". Did he mean to say "masochistic"? Don't be so sure.
Sensing it could all end in tears, the producers had followed health and safety protocol and provided the group with a source of clean drinking water, walking boots and, when their fur pelts become infested with maggots, they were even given a blanket each to snuggle in. Luxury!
So in this first episode at least, there wasn't much opportunity for the gang to prove themselves. Still, there were small victories, such as when four members of the group overcame their squeamishness to skin and disembowel a deer. "It is pretty amazing, how all of a sudden we've gone all feral," said Mike, ripping a leg from the carcass and holding it triumphantly aloft in his blood-soaked hands.
It was pretty amazing, actually. Despite the cushy conditions, 10,000 BC still managed to raise some interesting questions about the degenerate state of modern man. We often congratulate ourselves on the skills and knowledge we've accumulated in 50,000 years on the planet, but rarely do we stop to reflect on all we've lost.