Tempting Fortune



Paddy McGuinness


Voltage TV for Channel 4, 26 March 2023 to present


Twelve contestants spend eighteen days hiking through the wilderness of South Africa with just basic survival gear and inadequate rations.

The show carries a prize, of £300,000 split across the group. To keep that money, the contestants are expected to resist "temptations" - a comfy bed for the night, a lift up the hill, or merely a cup of coffee. If they choose to take these offers, the prize fund will be reduced - and it'll be reduced for everyone.

This coffee will cost the group £100.

So, for instance, if someone buys that coffee for £100, that cost is split across everyone in the group. If someone buys a night in the hotel for £3000, that cost is split across everyone in the group. Whatever money is left in the pot at the end is divided equally.

Almost inevitably, the group had different attitudes to spending the potential prize money. Some people wanted to take as much money out of the show as possible. Some people wanted to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of hiking through South Africa. Some people wanted to spend whatever it takes to get them through the trek.

Publicity before the show, and Paddy McGuinness's commentary, pushed a particular view. It was expected that the group would want to concentrate on the money, and cast moral judgement on those who spent. Phrases like "resist temptation" and "give in to those such things" tell us the producers wanted to give away the full £300,000. That some trekkers would rather enjoy their time here, rather than take away money for later, seemed to come as a surprise.

A group indulges in a silent disco, in the wilderness of South Africa.

Rather than try to persuade each other of their views, the Spenders and Hoarders grew increasingly distant through the hike. At one point, they were literally distant from each other, separated into two smaller groups by the producers.

Arguments and rows were commonplace, exacerbated by everyone's hunger and physical tiredness. The resulting show became quite dispiriting, full of people grousing and griping at each other. It also had quite a few passengers - by concentrating on a few big characters, some of the other trekkers faded into the background.

The contestants steer their raft through some marshland.

Tempting Fortune looked awesome. They had the drones and helicopters we would expect, and got great closeups in the action challenges. There was a consistent look to the oh-so-expensive treats, they all landed in the wilderness like they had dropped in from outer space. Ian Livingstone's composed music fitted through the programme.

But the show lacked heart, it seemed to be constructed as an hour-long row and griping session. Which is a shame, Tempting Fortune has an interesting idea, but it was obscured by the producers' assumptions.

That didn't stop audiences from watching it though, it became one of Channel 4's most watched shows of 2023 alongside the critically acclaimed The Piano and was given an extended second series of eight episodes.

Theme music

Ian Livingstone, credited for "composed music".

Web links

Channel 4 programme page

See also

Weaver's Week review


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