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Jungle celebrity show opens as Australia burns

January 11, 2020

Millions of viewers from Germany watched the season launch of "Dschungelcamp," a reality contest filmed near Brisbane, as bushfires raged in Australia's southeast. This time, contestants can't use fire or candles.

General view of the Dunn Road fire
Image: Getty Images/S. Mooy

Germany's reality show Dschungelcamp attracted more than six million viewers as blazes merged in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales, close to Victoria state.

Light rains fell but brought little let-up as some 136 fires raged, with 59 of them uncontained on Saturday, and being fought by often exhausted emergency crews.

Roughly 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) to the north, on NSW's border with Queensland, close to Brisbane, German private channel RTL's 14th series of Dschungelcamp got underway (Jungle Camp).

Read more: Australian bushfires: The canary building the coal mine

RTL Dschungelcamp 2020 | Abreise | Claudia Norberg
January 5, leaving Frankfurt, contestant Claudia Norberg Image: imago images/Star Media

The 12-member celebrity lineup of the show — which features repulsive diets of maggots  and testing outdoor trials — was quickly depleted. Former transport minister Günther Krause, 66, pulled out for medical reasons, announced presenter Sonja Zietlow.

That made Krause the quickest to quit the show since ex-porn star Dolly Buster did the same at the beginning of the show's second season in late 2004.

Friday's German prime time quota statistics showed a fraction more than six million tuned in to the opening episode.

An important change applied to Dschungelcamp 2020 was that for this series there would be neither a campfire nor candles in tents.

Read more: Thunberg calls on Siemens to nix Australia coal mine project

"Instead there is a gas-fueled fireplace," RTL said, referring to the show's main group setting. The broadcaster sought to reassure its audience that it was extremely unlikely that bushfires could reach the site, which is inland from the Gold Coast.

"The grounds on which the jungle camp is located lies in an area that is not affected by the bushfires," it said.

Altering opinion

Sydney-based social researcher Rebecca Huntley, who surveys attitudes to climate change, said Australians had become "quite anxious" amid their grim summer of fire, smoke and ash, with a massive loss of wildlife and blackened tree trunks.

"We've seen the whole Australian way of life over summer across the continent upended," Huntley told the French news agency AFP.

On Thursday, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, presenting its Annual Climate Statement, said 2019 on average had been the continent's driest and hottest year on record.

ipj, jsi/rc (dpa, AP, AFP)

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