For the first time in two decades, “Survivor” didn’t air any new episodes in the fall. That’s because of the coronavirus pandemic, which wreaked havoc on TV and film productions worldwide. Season 41 of CBS’s reality TV juggernaut originally planned a September 2020 premiere date, but that was scrapped when Jeff Probst and co. weren’t able to travel to Fiji due to safety restrictions. Fear not, “Survivor” fans, the new season will still air … eventually. In the meantime, viewers are keeping themselves entertained during this annoying hiatus by watching old episodes on DVD and streaming services.
Here’s everything to know so far about the upcoming season of “Survivor 41.” Bookmark this page as we’ll be updating when new information is revealed.
A quick background
Typically “Survivor” films two seasons back-to-back in early summer, then airs them in the fall of that year and the following spring. (For example, Seasons 39 and 40 filmed between March and June of 2019, and debuted in September 2019 and February 2020, respectively). Due to COVID-19, production unfortunately could not travel to film Seasons 41 and 42. “The situation is unprecedented and we are learning more information every day. It is out of concern for the well-being of all of you that we have taken this step,” Probst explained at the time about the show’s hiatus.
Filming update #1 (February 2021)
Production for this 41st season is now expected to begin in early April 2021. Here is the official statement from Minister Faiyaz Koya of Fiji’s Ministry of Trade and Commerce, per Fiji Broadcasting Corporation: “‘Survivor’ will be filming in Fiji with the crew expecting to arrive in the next few days. They have to stagger the way they actually come because most of the crew are sitting in different parts of the world but all done under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. We follow the necessary protocol to protect our own citizens.” CBS’s current goal is to film the next two installments back-to-back. If this happens, you can expect to see the episodes air on television in Fall 2021 (for Season 41) and Spring 2022 (for Season 42). Stay tuned.
Filming update #2 (March 2021)
According to Inside Survivor, “Members of the ‘Survivor’ production crew are still arriving in Fiji. Some have already completed their quarantine and are now working on pre-production on the island(s).” As crew members arrive they must quarantine for the CDC-recommended time span of 14 days. Since there are so many staffers for “Survivor,” they are using a staggering approach so that new crew members will arrive as soon as the previous ones have safely quarantined. The Season 41 cast is expected to fly to Fiji in mid-to-late-March and begin the quarantine process. The Season 42 cast will follow the same pattern in May.
Filming update #3 (April 2021)
At the end of March, Probst confirmed on social media that production would commence soon. As of April, filming was officially taking place in Fiji. “Hey, ‘Survivor’ fans, I have some exciting news to share,” said the four-time Emmy-winning host. “‘Survivor’ is going back into production. Fiji has invited us back to their beautiful country to shoot Season 41. We have all of our Covid protocols in place so that everybody in Fiji will remain safe, all of our crew will be safe, and of course our players will be safe. I gotta tell you: I can’t remember a time I’ve been this pumped to shoot ‘Survivor’ and I’ll tell you why. The past year has reminded me, and I hope it’s reminded you, that you gotta live your life like it’s one big, great adventure, and ‘Survivor’ fulfills that. So I am thrilled to say, I will see you on the island for ‘Survivor 41.’ Let’s do it!”
The cast has already been chosen
All of the contestants for “Survivor 41” had already been selected prior to production being shut down. They were officially cast in February 2020 with protocols being put into place so they’d be tested for coronavirus upon their arrival in Fiji, and then put into quarantine for the CDC-recommended time span of 14 days. It’s assumed that the cast would be made up of entirely new players, as the past season, “Winners at War,” memorably welcomed back 20 returning champions. UPDATE: Because of CBS’s new 50% diversity mandate, some of the Season 41 contestants were re-cast ahead of filming.
Probst is back — duh
Yep, “Survivor’s” host with the most Probst will obviously return as host/showrunner of Season 41. Why wouldn’t he? The 59-year-old has appeared in all 596 episodes so far, winning four Emmy Awards for his hosting abilities (2008-2011).
What’s with the teenager rumors?
During the finale of “Winners at War,” Probst put a call out to teenagers to apply for a future edition of the show. It’s likely this was going to be the plan for Season 42 or Season 43, as the cast of Season 41 had already been finalized before he made the announcement. “You should apply, especially if you’re young,” Probst said at the remote reunion shortly after declaring Tony Vlachos the winner. “I’m talking teenagers — 16, 17, 18, 19. Do it. Cool parents and a cool school? Who knows. It could happen.”
Fiji, Fiji, Fiji
As mentioned above, Mamanuca Islands, Fiji will once again be the location of “Survivor 41” … and presumably all future cycles. After 16 years of globe-trotting and exploring, the show officially moved to this locale in the South Pacific Ocean in Season 33 (“Millennials vs. Gen X”). “I hope we stay here forever,” Probst declared in 2017 while praising Fiji’s clear water, beautiful beaches and friendly government.
“The Amazing Race” inherited time slot
For much of its 20-year run, “Survivor” could be found in CBS’s Wednesdays-at-8pm time slot. Well, with “Survivor” unable to produce new episodes, that time slot was handed over to “The Amazing Race.” The globe-trotting series began airing its 32nd season in October. Production actually wrapped on these “TAR” episodes back in December 2018, nearly two years ahead of its premiere date. The reality show aired its finale on December 16, 2020.
“Survivor South Africa” finishes production
No, it’s not the American version, but it’ll have to do for fans craving more “Survivor.” This international season, dubbed “Survivor SA: Immunity Island,” concluded filming in December 2020 on the Wild Coast of South Africa under the strictest of Covid-19 guidelines. It will premiere on Thursday, June 3, 2021 with Nico Panagio returning as host.
In order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, aka the reason “Survivor” didn’t air the final week of September, CBS has created face masks featuring some of the show’s iconic logos. “100% of proceeds go directly to Feeding America to help with their COVID-19 relief efforts,” the network tweeted with a link to shop:
— SURVIVOR (@survivorcbs) September 22, 2020