The bridge

The bridge

Teamwork. Breathtaking views. Manual work. Twists. Greed. Diversity. Bush poem.

…and a flashing red beacon silently teasing me from a distant island.

Welcome to The bridge, TV’s most addictive new reality competition that’s a must-see for anyone who’s already a fan Survived, alone and all things man against nature.

This show works on its incredibly simple premise: Can 12 strangers build a log bridge across 330m of water in 17 days?

Yes, people who chop wood has finally become an Australian reality show, but there’s something about working together towards a common goal that brings out personalities: alpha males, born leaders, tough nuts, lazy dogs, brokers, cantankerous, even the random misogynists.

And when there’s $250,000 at stake, it also brings out the selfish, lying manipulators over those who aspire to the greater good. Oh, this will be fun.

There is no host for this show set deep in the Tasmanian wilderness. Only the menacing voice of Hugo Weaving (a coup of casting) that paints the more bare scenes with his hypnotic tone. Audiences largely discover the gameplay at the same time as the cast.

“What will they do to take the money? This place will change them forever as they build The bridge” he asks…

There is drama in the land itself, a secluded lake, surrounded by mountains, billowing fog, captivating panoramas shot by drone. When these 12 Australians arrive one by one at a lakeside lodge, there is no one to greet them. Just bunks, basic groceries, and lots of knives, axes, and ropes. These poor bastards will have to work.

The 12 are mostly young people, in their 20s and 30s, but there’s also ‘Bushie’ a bearded opal hunter who likes to live off the grid. He’s a baby boomer who loves a good ax and a little bush poetry around the fire – where else on TV do you get that?

We also meet: Jonesy, a young dad born leader, who reminds us “nature always wins” whenever man tries to take it on; Rhiannon a “social media contributor” who loves taking photos; Tony, a First Nations mafia man, always at home by the water; Bardie, a minimalist who wants to live with the earth; George who doesn’t like hugs and kisses with complete strangers; Allira, which comes with pronouns and is deeply spiritual; and Maddison, our first resident villain, who admits he doesn’t like the outdoors and has his sights set on the prize.

“I think you have to be selfish to move forward. I’m ready to cut down the fruit that hangs low.

And then there’s Dean, a guy who has a way with Aussie slang that would make a screenwriter’s mouth water.

“Don’t be a fucking dog,” he insists. “I can carry heavy shit… I can do this shit standing on my head.”

As they negotiate a plan to tie huge logs of wood over 330m of water, there will be tension, frustration, ego and results. Something so simple brings out the best and worst in all of us.

“Let’s be honest, we’re pushing shit up hill,” despairs George.

But this is also real competition and the producers have created unexpected twists. From time to time a red glow shoots into the sky from the lighthouse tower. The first of many comes without warning. But those who run on foot could discover a treasure, a challenge, a dilemma….

The first piece of information is a game changer: only one of them will claim the money. Do they keep it or share it?

Shit just got real. No more Kumbuya around the fire.

Before long these 12 will soon grow suspicious of each other in a way that would make Agatha Christie proud.

“We all know what happened to Cesare. Brutus stabbed him in the back,” mutters Dean. “This thing writes itself, doesn’t it?”

More twists and turns will follow as the 12 implode and rebuild, juggling friendships and navigating a pecking order. And that damned red beacon keeps flashing from afar….

If they don’t work together as a team – cutting, carrying, pushing, pulling – they will never reach their ultimate goal and it will all be for nothing.

Move away Survivor, The Hunted, Amazing Race. The bridge it’s gripping, scenic, escapist. I’m completely hooked.

The bridge screens Friday on Paramount+ (Free preview 21:30 Monday 22 August 10)