A South African version of global reality phenomenon Survivor was announced by pay channel M-Net on Tuesday 11 April, 2006, and was filmed on the Pearl Islands in the Gulf of Panama from 6 June.
Survivor is a reality game based on the highly popular Swedish show Expedition Robinson, in which a group of castaways competes on an exotic location for a grand prize (in the case of Survivor South Africa - R1,000,000).
Producer Mark Burnett licensed the rights to the show in 2000 and renamed it Survivor, which today is a worldwide reality television hit.
In Survivor South Africa: Panama 14 contestants were chosen from a shortlist of 700, with six additional contestants selected as replacements in case any of the original 14 were unable to take part through injury or other reasons.
Entries opened for the show on 11 April and closed on 15 May.
More than 18,000 South Africans applied to be on the show. Pierre van Niekerk (49), a resident of Rietfontein in Pretoria, entered 1,000 times.
The show was filmed from 6 June, 2006 until early July.
In the South African version of the show the 14 contestants battled it out over 27 days for the prize, and the title of Ultimate Survivor.
On Sunday 16 July M-Net announced the host of the show - Capetonian Mark Bayly, who auditioned to be a contestant and was hired as presenter instead.
This laid to rest rumours of three other possible South African presenters: Gareth Tjasink (Archer's Aqua guy and Egoli cast member), Colin Moss (host of Idols and Fear Factor: South Africa) and Ferdinand Rabie (winner of Big Brother 1 and host of Voorblad on DStv channel kykNET).
The contestants were divided into two tribes:
Aguila: Brigitte, Jude, Mzi, Nico, Sam, Sanele, Vanessa
Rana: Danielle, Don, Gareth, Jacinda, Lezel, Ncumisa, Zayn
The show premiered on M-Net on 3 September 2006, at 18h00 (not 27 August, as some media outlets initially reported), and culminated in the live finale on 26 November, where the winner was revealed as Vanessa Marawa.
It was screened during M-Net's Open Time, which non-subscribers could watch for free.
The show was made and produced by Endemol South Africa, and is co-produced by Strix Entertainment, the international format rights holder.
Strix provided all the resources and infrastructure (including camera crews) for all Immunity Challenges and Tribal Councils. Strix also provided the logging facilities for the daily rushes.
Survivor South Africa: Panama was filmed in the Pearl Islands at the same time as five other Survivor productions: Holland, Denmark, Greece, Sweden and Turkey.
Survivor Panama: Africa was filmed immediately with most of the same crew from Survivor SA.
This amortising of the different countries meant an overall saving on infrastructure and costs, making the filming of Survivor for all six countries much cheaper.
South Africa is the 35th country with its own Survivor.
The first season was won by Vanessa Marawa.