Jonathan LaPaglia returns to host the fourth season of Australian Survivor: Champion vs Contenders.
Jonathan LaPaglia returns to host the fourth season of Australian Survivor: Champion vs Contenders. NIGEL WRIGHT

Australian Survivor host doesn't like to sit on the sideline

JONATHAN LaPaglia isn't the type of man to sit on the sidelines. The Australian Survivor host likes to get his hands dirty while filming in Fiji for the reality TV series.

The 49-year-old actor and presenter tests out many of the show's elaborate challenges before the contestants test their mettle often combining physical obstacles with team tasks and brain-bending puzzles.

"Some of them I do in their entirety, others I do parts of," LaPaglia says.

"It just depends on how frisky I'm feeling that day. If it looks like I'm going to hurt myself then I won't do it. You've got 200 people relying on you turning up for work."

LaPaglia is full of praise for the show's Australian and Fijian crew, who design, construct and test dozens of elaborate challenges over the season.

Their hard work was recognised at last month's Logie Awards, where the series won the industry-voted Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Reality Program.

Brooke Jowett in a scene from Australian Survivor.
Survivor pushes contestants to their physical and mental limits. Nigel Wright

As LaPaglia pointed out in his Logies acceptance speech, the Australian series works off less than half the crew and a quarter of the budget of the long-running US version.

"They're really quite a creative bunch," he says.

"With the Aussies and locals working together, it's remarkable what those guys pull off given their resources and budget. They have to build the tribal council, which is a big deal unto itself, and then all the challenges as well. They design, build and test them in the workshop, and then take them out to the field where they erect them and test them again. It's so labour intensive and a lot of things crop up you don't anticipate.

"They keep pushing it to be bigger and better. They're definitely pushing the envelope with some of the challenges this year."

Lee Carseldine and Kristie Bennett in a scene from the final immunity challenge of Australian Survivor.
Lee Carseldine and Kristie Bennett's memorable final immunity challenge in Ten's first season of Survivor was an epic battle of endurance. Nigel Wright

Survivor returns in its fourth season next week with the second instalment of its popular Champions vs Contenders format, pitting prominent Aussies against everyday battlers.

This year's famous faces include former Olympian Steven Bradbury, NRL legend Andrew Ettingshausen (ET), marathon swimmer Susie Maroney, big wave surfer Ross-Clarke-Jones, AFL superstar Simon Black and Boost Juice founder Janine Allis.

"I was kind of excited to meet Ross; he's a legend," LaPaglia says. "Some of the stuff he's done is incredible. I watch that footage of him taking on that 40m wave it's just mind boggling.

"I also love Janine. She's very direct and I enjoyed having her at tribal council. She's a strategic player, just like she's a strategic business person. She applies that to Survivor and she's a big game player. I love anyone who makes big moves."

While the champions may have had the upper hand last season, with Olympian Shane Gould taking out the grand prize, this year's contenders - ranging from a miner to a tsunami survivor - are not to be underestimated.

"They're all really good game players and they all give it 150%. They really are out for blood," he says.

"They're taking it seriously this season and they definitely give the champions a good run for their money."

Australian Survivor: Champions vs Contenders premieres on Wednesday, July 24 at 7.30pm on Ten.