It’s always fun to look back at what people have said about shows in the past. In 2005, Survivor host Jeff Probst did an interview with Entertainment Weekly where he spilled some really great dirt on the early seasons of the show.
For some context, at the time of the interview, Survivor: Palau, the 10th season of the show, was just about to start airing in the spring of 2005. Here is all the dirt Probst aired about the first nine seasons of Survivor.
He Thought Richard Hatch Would Get Voted Off First
Probst said that he “honestly thought Richard would be the first person voted off” the show — and honestly, if you rewatch season one, you can see what Probst meant. Hatch is pretty grating in the first couple of episodes and it’s hard to see why anyone liked him, but he smartly formed an alliance and then became the tribe fisherman.
“He’s a scheming, pompous, condescending guy, but is so endearing you want to keep him around even though you know he’s got a dagger with your name on it,” Probst added.
He also said that the show will “never repeat those first 39 days.”
“It was the virgin season, and the show was being created day by day. In many ways, Richard, Sue, Rudy, and the other 13 created it as much as we did. Even though content-wise the show was solid, we weren’t always sure where it was going. As for me, I really didn’t know what the hell I was doing,” said Probst, adding, “When Sue made her big speech blasting Kelly at the final Tribal Council, the only thing I was thinking was — this is money. It’s probably still the greatest Survivor moment, and another reason why season one will never be repeated.”
Jeff Probst Thought Kel Did Smuggle In the Beef Jerky
If you’ll recall, in season two, Survivor: Australia, there was a huge controversy about whether Kel Gleason smuggled beef jerky into the game. For the record, Probst totally thought he did it.
“I do think Kel had the beef jerky. Just a gut feeling on what I heard and saw,” said Probst.
He also said that Jerri Manthey, who was the person who stirred up the beef jerky controversy, was “maybe the best female villain ever.” Now, a lot more seasons have aired since then, but we think that statement still stands, especially because her arcs from “All-Stars” and “Heroes vs. Villains” only added to her legacy.
Someone Once Tried to Smuggle Something into the Show in Their Butt
Speaking of smuggling something onto the show, Probst also said that people get caught trying to do it all the time — but one person took things to a whole other level.
“People try to smuggle things all the time, and if you’re really good, you can get away with stuff. It’s part of the game. We’ve had people try to smuggle things up their a**! And I won’t say who, because we caught them and it never made the show, but yes, somebody tried to smuggle something up their anus. So beef jerky is no big deal,” said Probst.
It has come up in other interviews that this might have been Richard Hatch, but Hatch has denied that it was him, telling Reality Blurred, “I didn’t cheat in all-stars. There was no fire made from anything anybody brought in.”
Probst is Done With Jonny Fairplay
Probst admitted that “Pearl Islands” contestant Jon “Jonny Fairplay” Dalton was “a producer’s dream” because of how “completely despicable” he was.
“It was actually fun to work with Fairplay on the show because he’s a producer’s dream. When he shows up drunk or flips somebody off, he’s bringing you gold every time. I wish we had a Jonny Fairplay every season,” said Probst.
But he added, “Personally, however, he’s an absolute jacka** whose actions at the ‘Vanuatu’ finale after-party pissed me off so much that he’s banned from any event that I’m at from now on. I’m done with Jonny Fairplay.”
The incident Probst is referring to is the fight Fairplay got into with Probst’s brother at the “Vanuatu” after-party, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Probst Hated the Outcasts Twists
Here’s a really interesting tidbit — Probst hated the Outcasts twist. If you’ll recall, on “Pearl Islands,” the first six people voted off formed the Outcasts tribe and the twist was that if they defeated either tribe (or both) at the Immunity Challenge, they got to send one of their members back into the game in place of whoever was voted out from the original tribes.
The Outcasts beat both tribes and Burton Roberts and Lillian Morris were voted back into the game. In 2005, Probst hated that twist.
“I hated the Outcasts. I felt it went against everything we say the show is about — that if you are voted out, you are out of the game … was it a good twist? I guess so. I just philosophically hated it,” said Probst, which is ironic considering how many twists have been implemented since then that let voted-out players return, like Edge of Extinction and Redemption Island.
He Thought Lillian Morris Was the Most Undeserving Final 2 Member
Probst was also pretty salty about the fact that Morris got back into the game and made it all the way to the finals. He told EW that the Outcasts twist “cost us a great player in Andrew Savage and in return gave us Lill, the most undeserving final-two member ever.”
However, we would argue that Morris got back into the game fair and square (because it was Survivor that implemented the twist), and then she played great strategy by turning on Savage and getting the merged tribe to vote him out. It was actually quite cutthroat and it sounds like Probst was just mad his buddy got voted out (he and Savage became close friends after “Pearl Islands”).
The argument could also be made that Morris was more responsible for people being voted out than Sandra Diaz-Twine was and that she was completely deserving of not only being in the finals but she maybe should have won the whole thing.
If you’re wondering when Survivor will return, there is talk about the production team filming three seasons this spring so that they can air one in the summer of 2021, one in the fall, and then one in the spring of 2022, but there is no word yet on if they can make that happen. Probst has said they are exploring options outside of Fiji, which is where the show has filmed since season 33, but there is no official word yet on when production will start back up.