The current host of Koh-Lanta is Denis Brogniart. Since its debut in 2001, Koh-Lanta has been a huge success in France, regularly finishing first in its timeslot.
The series airs on Fridays at 9:00 pm, with the exception of four seasons (Les Aventuriers, which aired on Saturdays and Sundays at 7:00 pm, and Le Retour des Héros, La Légende and Le Totem Maudit, which all aired on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm). The first seasons aired during the Summer, but since 2009 the series is usually aired during the Fall and Spring.
- Main article: Survivor (franchise)
16–24 contestants (13–18 contestants in special seasons) must survive on an uninhabited island for 39–43 days (20–32 days in special seasons). They have to find food to accompany the meagre ration of rice supplied to them at the beginning of the adventure. They should build a shelter to protect themselves from external conditions (weather, insects...) and keep alight the fire they were able to start or which they won in the first round.
Each contestant has a backpack with some clothes. Any product related to hygiene or food is prohibited, except due to illness.
Unlike most versions of Survivor, there have been three seasons where the final vote resulted in a tie. As a consequence, both finalists were declared winners in Bocas del Toro and Palawan, and two of the three finalists won Le Totem Maudit.
The name of the show, Koh-Lanta, is the name of the island where the first season was filmed.
The franchise uses some mechanics similar to American franchise and introduces new twists.
- Main article: Merge
The contestants of the tribes join together and form a single tribe, the adventure becomes individual.
Hidden Immunity Idol
- Main article: Hidden Immunity Idol
Koh-Lanta uses necklaces, called in French "colliers d'immunité" (Immunity Necklaces), as Hidden Immunity Idols. They were introduced in Raja Ampat and can be earned through a variety of ways, just like in the U.S. franchise.
- Main article: Ambassadors
Immediately before the merge, one person from each tribe becomes an ambassador. They meet privately and are tasked with eliminating a castaway from the game. If the ambassadors can't come to an agreement on who to eliminate, one of them is eliminated via a rock draw.
The role of the ambassadors (in the first seasons, they only had to give an extra vote against someone for the first post-merge Tribal Council instead of directly eliminating them) and the way they are chosen has known several variations throughout the history of the show.
- Main article: Tied Destinies
In most seasons since Malaisie, at some point after the merge (final 8, final 10 or final 12), a rock draw is held to divide the contestants in the appropriate number of pairs, and their fate in the game becomes tied for the duration of the episode. Both the Reward and Immunity Challenges are competed by pairs, and two people are eliminated at Tribal Council, as the person who receives the most votes also causes their partner's elimination.
In Koh-Lanta, if a castaway is medically evacuated, the last person voted off returns into the game. In the first seasons, it was also the case when a castaway voluntarily left, but since Raja Ampat, quitters are no longer replaced, unless somebody quits before the first Tribal Council.
If a person is removed and cannot be replaced by a previously eliminated player, a new castaway may enter the game.
Before leaving, the person voted off at Tribal Council is asked to cast a last vote against somebody from their tribe. This vote is called the Black Vote and is counted at the next Tribal Council attended by the targeted person. In case of a revote, the Black Vote does not count anymore. This twist, like the Immunity Necklaces, was introduced in Raja Ampat.
The Black Vote mechanic was changed in Cambodge: it is now only introduced after the merge, and the person voted out gives to a remaining contestant the power to vote twice at the next Tribal Council.
The format of the finale episode differs greatly from U.S. Survivor. When there are four or five people left in the game, a special challenge takes place to determine the final three, with the person finishing last (the two last when there are five people) being directly eliminated from the game (with the exception of Panama where the loser only had an extra vote against them at Tribal Council). However, in Le Totem Maudit, the challenge determines the usual final three but moreover, the others two compete in a second orienteering for a fourth place, with the winner joining the three others, and the loser being eliminated.
In the first two seasons, this challenge was the Fallen Comrades challenge. Since the third season, it is an orienteering race where the first three people to find their object are qualified for the final three.
The final three castaways then compete in the Final Immunity Challenge, which has always remained the same since the second season: it is the Perch challenge, with the surface the castaways are standing on being progressively reduced in size (in the first season, the challenge was Hands on a Hard Idol).
The last standing castaway earns their spot in the Final Two and, unlike in U.S. Survivor, must choose their Final Tribal Council opponent immediately after the challenge. The only exception to the usual rule was in Le Totem Maudit. In this season, four castaways competed in the challenge, except that the castaway who won the second orienteering and took the fourth place had to compete in a much more difficult version of the challenge than the usual one of the three others. The winner of the Perch earned his spot in the very first Final Three of the show. He then chose his first opponent for the Final Tribal Council. Next, the latter picked the third finalist among the last two.
Production was halted and canceled for the 2013 season following the death of a contestant named Gérald Babin, who suffered several heart attacks during Day 1 of filming in Cambodia on March 22, 2013. The program's on-site doctor, Thierry Costa, committed suicide following the controversy. In his suicide note, he stated that his name has been "smeared in the media", leading to his ultimate death.
During filming of the 2018 regular season, allegations of sexual assault from a male castaway to a female castaway prompted shooting to be suspended.
It is alleged that Candide Renard, the daughter of football manager Hervé Renard, was harassed by a fellow castaway. Between the 4th and 5th days of filming, Candide was sleeping away from the camp with the man and two other castaways. When the man in question allegedly harassed her, she called the production team and both were relocated away from camp in separate locations.
However, the man's version of events contradicts Candide's account. He said that a castaway fell ill, and another called production for medical assistance. At that point, Candide went back to the shelter alongside the rest of the tribe. Whilst Candide alleges this is where the assault took place, another castaway said he never witnessed the alleged assault.
As a result of the accusation, filming of the season was halted and cancelled. The man was arrested on returning to France, but was released after 10 hours of questioning. He denied the accusation.
It later emerged that the male castaway had been arrested twice in the past for violent behaviour, in 2008 and 2012, and served a total of 18 months in prison. In response to this, Benjamin Castaldi, host of Loft Story and former host of Secret Story (the French adaptations of reality TV show Big Brother) said he was surprised that TF1 didn't check the castaways' criminal history before casting them on the show.
^1 Two replacement castaways entered the game due to a high number of evacuations that could not be replaced by the previously eliminated castaways.
^2 A replacement castaway entered the game after an early evacuation or quit that occured before the first Tribal Council.
^3 Due to accusations of cheating, the intended winner Claude Dartois had his victory revoked.
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