“Most people think, ‘let’s go off the grid’ and that can be really good,” says lead Dr. David Craig of Hunted down competitors.
“If you’re going off the grid, you go to really remote areas where there are fewer people, but you get noticed by those people. So if we have a clue that you’re in a 200 square kilometer area, and we’re asking questions through the community, or doing a poster campaign, or hitting the local radio station or something, you might get noticed. So it’s not as easy as people think just going off the grid.
“Also, you can hide among millions of people in the city, but then with CCTV and facial recognition technology, we can find you too. So it really depends on the skills of the person.
So where would the man tasked with finding his reality competitors go, if he were on the run?
“For me, I’d go into the bush, and then I’d go into the city,” she says TV tonight.
“Or, if I was on the show, I’d contact the Hunters on day one and say ‘Look, you’re too good!'”
People still contact close relatives. But don’t do it because we’ll be there,” she warns.
“When you’re on the run and you’re tired and you’re paranoid and you need something, and you know something can be on the end of the phone. It’s very tempting.
Season 2 of series 10 went from 18 to 20 contestants, criss-crossing the state of Victoria for 21 days. If they make it to the extraction point, revealed to them later, they will win a share of $100,000.
Hot on their heels are the Hunters, who simulate surveillance powers such as CCTV, ANPR (automatic number plate recognition), telecommunications information, and access to bank and telephone records. They will be able to search the homes of fugitives, extract data from their electronic equipment and question family, friends and colleagues.
Craig, a former Detective Superintendent and Australian Federal Police (AFP) officer, leads the team from a studio base, itself simulating a high-tech warehouse of a city skyscraper.
He insists that the escapees have stepped up their game this season, to the point of aggressively pursuing the hunters themselves.
“The Fugitives had a chance in hindsight from the previous season and other overseas releases, so they came up with some pretty innovative ways to tease us. Which is great, because while it pisses me off it also makes me more and more determined to catch them. So it probably works against them,” continues Craig.ss
“That’s 20 people on the run, which is huge. This has never been done before: so many people in a shorter amount of time. That’s probably great for viewers, not so much if you’re a hunter.
“We have some new people. We have a new analyst who is extremely good. We have a new female Ground Hunter, ex Northern Territory Police, who has come to join us and she is a fit professional rugby player. He’s not someone you want to chase after you.
“And we also have a couple more land hunters. The team has strengthened a bit, but 20 people is still a lot to track down in that timeframe.”
Filming took place in January/February, but Craig remains tight-lipped about what’s to come this season.
“A lot is unpredictable, in what happens to human dynamics and the pressure people are subjected to. But there are a couple of events, one in particular that comes to mind, that was mind blowing. That’s all I can say. Sorry, I’d like to give you something else!
As for the show’s believability, some viewers last season spotted bugs or found disconnects that suggested some elements were faked. Craig only defends the way his direct team works, preferring field questions to be answered by production.
“We don’t recall anything. Of course, I’ve never been in the field with the fugitives. I’ve only ever worked at HQ and I know what Ground Hunters do. It’s not like there’s any acting,” she insists.
“They get the footage, however they get it in the field. So it’s really kind of a production. I’m not a TV person, I honestly don’t know the difference between a line producer and an executive producer.
“I know the investigation. And I know we have requested CCTV footage and sometimes we get it and sometimes we don’t.
“If we require a listening device, or if we require a wiretap or vehicle tracker, we have to justify it. We don’t just write a form, we have to justify it with reasons why. And this is sent to the command center and they will determine whether or not we have grounds to get it. Just like a court does in Australia, when the police want to do the same thing.”
But he scorns the idea that the fugitives can be located simply by identifying the camera crews running with the contestants. Teams have one cameraman and Go-Pro cameras are tiny.
“That’s exactly what I thought the first time I saw Hunted. I thought ‘It will be obvious’. But it really isn’t. The first thing is that you have to get to the place where that camera person is, in the first place than all of Victoria. It’s also not like a large camera crew is walking with the escapees. They have a built-in camera that lives, sleeps and dreams with them and is on their side. So it’s just like three runaways,” she explains.
“If they have any idea we’re near them, they’ll hide just like fugitives do. They dive behind the hedges and that’s why there’s a lot of footage that’s sometimes a little fuzzy or a little lost because the camera people themselves are on the run.
“I actually spoke to one of the cameramen on the run after the series was filmed. Just coincidentally, I ran into him and he was like, ‘You seem like a cool dude. I’ve spent the last three weeks hating you.”
“That’s how seriously they take it. So that’s a cameraman who was with the escapees. I don’t know who he was with because we didn’t discuss it. But they are 100% Team Fugitive. So there’s no benefit to having the camera crew with them.”
Wanted screens 7.30pm Monday to Wednesday 10.