The countdown is on! Survivor NZ debuts on TV2 on May 7, and Spy can exclusively reveal the first contestant is Kiwi cop Nathan Davis.
He battles it out with 16 other contestants in the jungles of Nicaragua, in the Kiwi version of the hit show, hosted by Matt Chisholm.
If his name doesn’t sound familiar, his voice will — Senior Sergeant Davis has had an early dose of fame making headlines last week as a singing policeman, delivering a lively “Drive Safe at Easter” message to Earth Wind and Fire’s September.
His soulful singing saw him make headlines here and in Australia, and his efforts have been viewed more than 600,000 times on Facebook. Davis had planned to get a group of officers to perform the carpool karaoke but ended up doing it alone, politely getting permission from the TVNZ PR team beforehand.
No one knew how big it would get, but when the news shows started calling Davis was allowed to go on, as long as he didn’t blow his Survivor cover. TVNZ’s competition The Project featured him proudly.
“I was blown away by how many views the video got on social media. When it made the news and even Breakfast television in Australia, I was super-stoked at the response it got. If it gets people thinking and talking about being safer on the roads, fantastic,” Davis, 45, told Spy.
This week TVNZ starts whipping up interest in Survivor by revealing new cast members each day. We hear expectations are as high as the tension.
Davis reveals it was a push from his wife that saw him audition last year.
“It was my wife’s idea to apply, but I had the final say — and those words were “yes dear”. Doesn’t everyone want to be on Survivor? It’s the most successful reality TV show in the world.
“When I was told that I was accepted, I was in a dream for days. I still can’t believe I’m part of television history. What an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience — love it!”
Davis, a Palmerston North father of two boys aged 12 and 14, is not afraid of his newfound fame.
“Being a member of the police, I suppose in a way I’m used to being in the public eye. Wearing the blue uniform is a source of pride. When you’re wearing it, you’re always noticed by the public.
“Having lived in a few small towns probably helped too, as I’ve always been known as a member of the police to those communities. Let’s just say that I’m very aware the role brings a degree of attention. It’s not like I blend into a crowd!”
Did being a policeman give him an upper hand in Nicaragua?
“To be honest, I don’t know if my skills helped me on the island. What I would say is that my listening skills and ability to understand people by watching them definitely assisted. I also think being a member of the police helped as I was probably given trust almost by default.”
And the most dangerous thing he saw in the jungle:
“While walking through the jungle, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move by my foot. It was a tarantula scurrying back into a hole about two inches from my foot! I froze and watched him duck back into his house. That was the last time I left the trails! It gave me a bit of a fright and made me realise this was more than just a game.”
As for the all-important Survivor survival strategy?
“Prepare, prepare, prepare. I made some investments early on and hoped they would generate some interest for me down the track. I found someone I could trust. I watched and listened. I found out people’s motivations and what drove them. You don’t win this game, or any games all by yourself.”