Oct 172002
Authors: Amy Bergstrom

The cameras, tents, and equipment may prevent “Experiment Island” from being deserted, but escaping was still a challenge for Jamey MacArthur, a CSU alumnus.

MacArthur recently participated on The Learning Channel’s and the British Broadcasting Corporation’s reality television show, “Escape from Experiment Island,” which will begin airing in early January of 2003.

On “Experiment Island,” actually Scotland’s Isle of Rhum, two teams of four competed to build a vehicle to be used to race the other team and escape from the island. In three challenges prior to the final race, the teams built components used to create the final vehicle.

While MacArthur could not share what his team built or who won the competition, he did say that the experience was life-changing. There were no cash prizes other than an all-expenses paid trip to Scotland, but he said, “I’ve made friends for life.”

MacArthur, a ’96 graduate of CSU, is now working in manufacturing as a quality manager and an Iso9000 coordinator in Florida. He found out about the show last May while looking at TLC’s website.

The casting process for “Experiment Island” involved three steps. After submitting a 14-page application and video, MacArthur received an e-mail asking him to come for casting calls. The third stage was then a second casting call in which applicants participated in challenges similar to those of the actual event.

MacArthur’s experiences at CSU helped in this final stage.

“I used to launch water balloons off the Taco Bell,” MacArthur said.

During the challenge, his team launched a water bottle 238 feet, the furthest out of any group.

After waiting for several months, MacArthur was called back and asked to come on the show. In mid-September, he traveled to Scotland for filming. The show is not typical of the “Survivor” style of reality shows, MacArthur said.

“It was very much more PG rated,” he said.

MacArthur’s team consisted of a graphic designer from Los Angeles, a master chief of a nuclear submarine from Seattle, and an ex-naval aircraft mechanic from Washington, D.C. Unlike on other shows, success did not come through making alliances and strategizing against each other, MacArthur said.

“Our team really got along very well. We bonded very closely,” MacArthur said.

But MacArthur anticipates that the other team may receive more camera time because they were more colorful.

Before the final challenge, in an effort to bring in the “Survivor” element, MacArthur said his team began fake arguing and bickering in order to throw off the other team. However, because of the friendly nature between the teams, MacArthur’s team eventually revealed that the fighting wasn’t real.

Although MacArthur said the show was very strenuous, he also said that the most difficult part came at the very end.

“The hardest part of the trip was watching these people peel off one by one at the airport. We were all in tears each time someone left,” MacArthur said.

The experience, MacArthur said, changed all of their lives. He said he may even have met his soulmate, the ex-naval aircraft mechanic, who also is a former CSU student.

“Escape from Experiment Island” is tentatively scheduled to start airing Wednesday nights in January after “Junkyard Wars” on TLC. MacArthur will be on the final episode of the show, which may not air until February.

-Edited by Shandra Jordan and Becky Waddingham

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