Switching off her night light and drinking foul-smelling water are two of the challenges Chavala Parker is set to face on new TV series The Island with Bear Grylls.
The psychologist will make her debut tomorrow night when viewers meet the residents of the women’s island for the show’s second outing.
I was so proud of myself because I faced so many of my fears. Before, I was scared of my own shadow.Chavala Parker
The Island sees a group of men and a group of women each stranded on a remote Pacific Ocean island, with little more than the shirts on their back, some basic tools and a film kit – no companionship from a crew keeping tabs on their every move.
The two teams spent six weeks cast away, at the height of the tropical storm season, tasked with surviving on what they could find, kill and cook for themselves.
Chavala, an ex-pupil of King Edwards and Queen Mary’s School, is now back living a life full of ‘dresses and nice comfy things’ – and admits she has questioned why she took part in The Island.
“I look back and think, ‘Why did I do it?’,” she said. “I decided The Island would get me away from everyone and strip me raw.
“It gave me something to do for myself rather than other people.
“I do love wildlife and bird watching. But other than that, I’m probably the least outdoorsy person you could meet; I like dresses and nice comfy things.”
The Island residents had to source everything from themselves, even down to the absolute basics of water and shelter – both of which proved a challenge to Chavala, 28.
“After the first week or so, I was really struggling to drink the water because it smelt of poo, even after boiling it,” she said. “People were trying to get it down me and I was throwing it up. I tried not to tell anyone, because I didn’t want to be taken off the island.
“I also got bitten by a scorpion, and my foot got infected by a bite and blew up with green pus. But it’s fine. I didn’t go there to be pampered.
“I was so proud of myself because I faced so many of my fears. Before, I was scared of my own shadow.
“I couldn’t go to sleep without a night light, so sleeping in a jungle with big scorpions and snakes was a big deal. And there I was, skinning things, ripping the heads off fish. It was a side to me I didn’t know existed.”
While on The Island, Chavala celebrated her 28th birthday, which helped combat any homesickness and got her through the challenge.
“Spending my birthday there was amazing,” she said. “The girls pulled off this surprise party. I had no idea they cared! It was one of the highlights of my life, actually.
“But the hardest part was being away from all of my family, because we’re really close. Nobody was there to support me and get me through it. It was down to me. I’d never had that before. Nobody there saying, ‘Come on, you can get through it’.”
* The Island With Bear Grylls starts tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm, with the men’s island. The women’s island follows tomorrow night.