Russian Reality Show Warns Contestants They Could Risk Life and Limb

Siberia - H  2015
AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

'Game 2: Winter' offers a $1.6 million prize purse for a show set in the extremes of a Siberian nature reserve.

A Russian reality TV show that offers a $1.6 million prize purse for someone who can survive nine months in the wilds of Siberia is warning would-be contestants they could face death or injury if they participate.

Thirty contestants from around the world will be offered the chance to compete in Game 2: Winter, set in a 900-hectare Siberian nature reserve where they will face temperatures that could plunge to minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit) in winter and soar to 35 degrees C (95 Fahrenheit) in the summer.

Surviving extreme temperatures will not be the only challenge: the vast expanses of Siberian forest are home to bears and wolves, swarms of mosquitoes and fast-flowing, rock-strewn rivers.

Competitors will be asked to sign legal waivers accepting that they could die or be seriously injured during the show.

During the show — due to go on air July 1, 2017 — they will be monitored around the clock by remote-controlled cameras placed around the game zone. Each will also carry a hand-held camera with rechargeable batteries.

Producers of the show — which will be streamed live over the internet and via television broadcasts — say "everything is allowed" but warn that if any crimes are committed the police will intervene, as the show takes place on Russian territory, under Russian law.

The 15 men and 15 women — who have the option of paying 10 million rubles ($165,000) to take part, or be chosen by viewers in an online voting session — will be permitted to carry knives, but not guns during the show.

The international cast of contestants will, producers hope, increase the show's chances of securing global TV deals, with simultaneous translations into English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic promised.

Yevgeny Pyatkovsky, the reality show's originator and managing partner, told The Hollywood Reporter that the project's budget planned budget was 400 million rubles ($6.5 million), which is to come from private investors.

"We are currently in negotiations with television networks about airing the reality show," he said. "It will be carried on one of top 10 local stations."

According to Pyatkovsky, over 350 applications from would-be contestants have been already received, including a number from abroad.

Pyatkovsky said that media reports that "everything is allowed, including rape and murder", are a bit exaggerated.

"But participants need to understand that it is taiga [thick pine and spruce forest]," he said. "We will take every precautions, but we won't be able to immediately react to every incident."

"It's all about survival, it will be a large and diverse group of people, and everything could happen within it, including violence," he went on to say. "We won't instigate it, but it's the way life is."

Emergency medical help will be on hand and contestants — who will all receive survival training from Russia's elite Spetznaz special forces — will be able to opt out and be taken off the show if they cannot cope.

Contestants must be aged 18 or over and will be permitted to take no more than 100 kilos (220 lbs) of equipment with them into the zone. However, viewers will be able to donate money each week to send requested supplies to participants.

The winning contestant will be the last person still in the game zone and alive on April 1, 2018.