Twelve strangers meet in an isolated spot with the promise of winning £100,000. The money lies beneath a tower on an island in the middle of a vast reservoir. In order to reach it, they must cross 850ft of water – but are not allowed to swim or sail. Instead, they have to build a bridge, in 20 days, with the minimum of tools. Oh, and if they do make it to the island before the deadline, they must choose only one winner to take the prize money.
This is the simple and clever premise of The Bridge (Channel 4), which is based on a Spanish format. But because it is a reality show, it must adhere to certain rules. The location (Llyn Brenig in north Wales) and basic accommodation brought to mind Castaway, the 2000 show in which a bunch of people went stir-crazy on the Scottish island of Taransay. But Castaway was the first and the purest of reality programmes, before they became a passport to fame. The Bridge also has shades of Big Brother and The Apprentice, and some contestants clearly have an eye on a post-show career in the spotlight.
Zac is a performer with the Dreamboys male strip show. If he was an ice cream he’d lick himself. Tara went viral in March with a video from her hospital bed after she was admitted with Covid. Billie is a publicist and daughter of former talk show host Trisha Goddard, who says she wants to be known as more than being Trisha Goddard’s daughter while repeatedly bringing up the fact that her mother is Trisha Goddard. She clashed with Sly, the oldest member of the group, whose understanding of basic engineering principles was roundly ignored.
Sly came across as a difficult character – whether that’s the truth or in the editing, it’s impossible to know. The dynamics of the group are interesting: old and young, privileged and poor. At the end of the episode, a young man called Luke was offered the chance to betray the people he’d known for two days and bank £5,000 – a big sum to someone who had been homeless for periods of his childhood. It feels worth tuning in next week to see what he decides.