The first season of Ten’s new reality game show hunted came to a close on Tuesday night, with contestants Stathi and Rob taking out a double win – earning half each of the game’s $100,000 prize money.
Speaking to news.com.au today, the two players opened up about their time on the show, revealing that life on the run was even harder than it appeared to viewers, with some key scenes not making the edit.
Namely, the apparent willingness of members of the general public to help panicked contestants, sometimes dressed in bizarre disguises and always trailed by camera operators, as they approached and announced: “I’M A FUGITIVE ON THE RUN, CAN YOU HELP ME?”
Time and again, complete strangers were shown on-screen leaping into action, housing, transporting and feeding the fugitives – but the winners explained they actually experienced very little kindness from those they approached.
“Not a single person wanted to help you, when you’re out on the streets looking for help,” said Rob. “People would just look at you. You’d think that having a camera with you would help, but it didn’t.”
Rob estimated that around “90% of people” he and team mate Jake approached on the run would “tell us to piss off” – starting from their first minutes in the game, when they needed to find a phone to make their first call.
“From the moment we got out at Federation Square, (hunted) didn’t show the 30 or so people who said no to letting us use their phones,” he explained.
Stathi said begging a largely indifferent public for help quickly became one of the hardest elements of his 21 days as a fugitive.
“That rejection… it makes you doubt yourself and gets you into that paranoid mindset, which is exactly what you don’t need when you’re on the run,” he said.
How the finale played out
Three contestants were left in the game heading into Tuesday’s season finale: friends Jake and Rob, and Stathi, who lost his buddy and team mate Matt during Monday’s episode.
All three had to phone Hunted HQ 24 hours before the 21 days were up to be told the game’s ‘extraction point’ in Inverloch, on Victoria’s south eastern coast.
As soon as they called, their exact location was disclosed to the Hunters – yet another advantage for the Hunters, and one that some viewers decried as unfair.
Policeman Jake was soon tracked down to the address he was staying, leading to a dramatic foot race between he and two Hunters, who eventually captured him.
It was left to make-up artist Rob and humanitarian worker Stathi to make their way to the extraction point: a helicopter that had landed on the beach in Inverloch.
Both did so as stealthily as possible, with Stathi blending in with some local hikers as he made the approach along a coastal track, while Rob raced straight into the chopper from the car that had just dropped him off.
Both made it into the chopper with minutes to spare and with Hunters hot on their tail – making them the joint winners of huntedseason one.
Rob and Stathi revealed to news.com.au today that their helicopter rendevzous was the first time they’d properly met and been able to have a conversation – and Rob did joke that, as first to the chopper, he was tempted to ask the pilot to leave when he saw Stathi approaching.
Both players vowed to share their split of the $100,000 prize money with their fallen team mates, meaning both winners will go home with $25,000 for their 21 days on the run.
It’s a small prize, compared to the megabucks awarded to winners on other Ten reality shows like Australian Survivor ($500,000) and Amazing Race Australia ($250,000).
Truth about those drag disguises
Monday’s penultimate episode of the season saw Jake and Rob don elaborate drag disguises to evade detection from the Hunters – a tactic Rob employed again for the finale (although this time, the Hunters clocked his real identity on CCTV).
Rob said it wasn’t any easy move to make, admitting he was “terrified” the first time he stepped out in public in drag.
“It was a huge, huge thing to do. I had this sense of nerves, going out in public like that… I also didn’t want to misrepresent anyone either, dressed as a woman.”
Hairdresser Rob dressed himself and policeman Jake in wigs, make-up, breast plates and even facial prosthetics to transform into women for a visit to a local pub, where they successfully convinced members of the public to take them in for the night.
It was far and away the most elaborate disguise in a season that saw contestants try to go undercover in an array of cheap wigs, op shop dresses and in one occasion, even a nun’s habit. Then there was Stathi’s infamous “nonna” disguise – or, as he put it to news.com.au, “K Mart drag.”
602,000 viewers across the five metro capitals tuned in to the climax of last night’s finale – a respectable end for a season that opened three weeks ago to an audience of 619,000, then rose to a season high of 711,000 viewers for episode two.