Meanwhile, BBC castaways grapple with racist and anti-gay prejudice

Click to follow
The Independent Online

They may be hundreds of miles from urban life but the volunteers for the BBC programme Castaway 2000 are still finding themselves grappling with issues of racism and homophobia.

They may be hundreds of miles from urban life but the volunteers for the BBC programme Castaway 2000 are still finding themselves grappling with issues of racism and homophobia.

The next series of the programme will show the Taransay islanders discussing whether racism and homophobia are at work in the community on the remote Scottish island.

The debate comes after Gordon Carey, 51, his wife Cassie, 40 and their children Yoneh, five, and Aaron, three, abandon ed the project earlier this week. The black family are Seven Day Adventists whose religious convictions prevent them from drinking alcohol and working on Saturdays.

The only other people to quit have been Ron Copsey, 44, the island's only openly gay resident, and Ray Bowyer, a former builder prone to drunkenness and occasional violence.

"Those remaining on the island," said executive producer Colin Cameron, "are doing a lot of soul searching about whether this is a result of a white, heterosexual majority, and how you deal with minorities. There is a very great sense of sadness about the Careys leaving".

The group has been "raising and facing some very powerful and emotional issues," he said. "I don't think there is racism on the island but you do have to work through what all of this is about." The role of gender and religion have also been discussed. Cynthia McVey, the psychologist on the project, said it was the Careys' religion rather than their colour which caused them to have problems with the other volunteers.

"It did isolate them," she said, "because they didn't drink and didn't take part in any of the parties that were going on, and had special dietary requirements."

The Daily Mail's observation that Mr Copsey had "probably had an argument with somebody and minced off", has prompted comment in the gay press. However, Mr Cameron said the only obvious tension between Mr Copsey and the heterosexual islanders involved the Carey family, whose religion does not approve of a homosexual life-style.

Castaway 2000 was always intended as a serious social experiment lasting a full year, in contrast to the intense short-term rush of excitement around Big Brother. The first issues to arise were about the physical aspects of life, for instance whether everyone was pulling their weight.

Now, more complex social issues are beginning to emerge - notably the difficulty of being in a minority life, but having no friends with similar backgrounds around for support when things get difficult.

"Everyone has to make compromises," said Mr Cameron. "Ray (the first to leave) was not somebody used to compromise and making the necessary adaptations of personal behaviour in such a close-knit community."

The next series will be shown in September.

Comments