It's quite astonishing what had been done in the first two months' development on the Fijian island of Vorovoro. After his visit, shown at the start of last night's 'Paradise or Bust' (BBC2), co-founder Mark Bowness somewhat lamely leaves to concentrate on 'other ventures'. Presumably this means his 'Have You Got The Nerve?' idea.
Well Mark, it may have been your idea, but it's Ben Keene that's justifiably going get the recognition for getting the Tribewanted project to actually deliver to its promise. Having an idea, putting a website together and asking people to join is one thing.. It's clear that what's really driving this project is passion - Ben's passion, the passion of the local people, and the passion of the committed 'tribe'.
How many IT consultants does it take to catch a chicken? All of them by the looks of it, but becoming self-sufficient is a central part of the tribe's goals. Cucumbers and lettuce (so they tell me) can feed the belly but feeding the coffers depends on new tribe members coughing up the readies to join in. But fears of a military coup (this series was filmed over 12-months ago remember) effectively put a stop on growth of membership and tourism in general to the area.
In what must have seemed to Ben like reality going on the blink, the head of military first says he can't stage a coup because he has to go to a rugby match, but then, four days later, does in fact take action to overthrow the government.
It looks like 'game over' for Tribewanted as money dries up.
Ben then flies home to the UK to find an answer, seeking sponsorship from some of the bigger online brands. Failing to get that sponsorship Ben takes on another loan of £30k - this guy has commitment written through him like a stick of rock! Whilst back in Vorovoro the military takeover passes uneventfully (we can only imagine that the head of military must've found another rugby match to go to).
Poor Ben, he's forgetting his online tribe! Unsurprisingly he's so busy trying to keep the project afloat he's neglecting to keep the online tribe informed with the latest news and updates. Losing Becky Hunter (in last week's episode) was bad news since she was going to front the video updates. But what was really crippling the project was the fact that there wasn't any Internet connection on the paradise island.
But then, breakthrough as a partnership deal is struck with a 'telecoms company'. (Just love the placement ads hastily stuck to the laptops guys). How far does a 3G signal transmit? Ben has to climb up to the top of the hill but he's connected! How good must that feel?
As I type this I'm thinking that I shouldn't be watching this I should be looking at the Tribewanted website. I wonder how the ‘Paradise or Bust' programme is affecting their already established online community. 1411 members I see.. let's watch that number.