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Before So You Think You Can Dance, before The Biggest Loser and before American Idol, there was a reality TV program that ruled supreme. One program that captivated viewers around the world with its wholesome mix of strategy, stamina and speech craft.

Challenges were set, immunity idols dispensed and tribal councils held. All the while a single man held sway over proceedings, coining the now-famous phrase — “I’ll go tally the votes” — in the process.

That man is Jeff Probst and the program is, of course, Survivor.

Tonight on Channel Nine, a three-hour extravaganza brings the program’s 20th season to a close. It’s been 10 years since the original castaways battled it out for survival in Borneo and the format has changed very little since.

Alliances are still made and backs are still stabbed. Reward challenges still allow successful contestants to indulge in sponsor-provided feasts and the losers to rue their missed opportunity.

But season 20  is no ordinary season — it’s Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, a who’s who of the nicest, and dirtiest, players in Survivor history. Missed a week or two of the action? Channel Nine’s website provides a great recap of the season.

But tonight, after all of the scheming and after all of the wheeling and dealing, we’ll finally get to see who will take home the $1 million.

Will it be Parvati, the winner of Survivor: Micronesia and last week’s immunity challenge? Will it be good guy Colby, who was runner up when Survivor came to Australia in season two?

Maybe it will be Russell, the oil company owner who has provided Nine with a whole season’s worth of Evil Russell promos. Could it be Sandra, the winner of season seven who has spent the past 30 days scheming unsuccessfully to get rid of Russell? Or will it be Jerri, another veteran in her third Survivor outing?

Even though tonight’s double episode marks the end of this season, the Survivor juggernaut will roll on. Survivor: Nicaragua has already been announced and it’s due to air in the US later this year.

The details: The final episode of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains airs on Channel Nine tonight from 8:40.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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