Mike didn't keep a day by day diary during the final programme – but he did reflect on the whole experience after the filming had finished.
It was all over. Even in July, with the September filming trip still ahead of me, I didn't want to leave the island. This time it was much more final and I certainly did not want to go home. In a way I was glad that the filming hadn't gone on longer. Tempers were becoming short, and at times there was a bit of an atmosphere, just as in real life, and real life did not, and never has, held any attractions for me.
At first, our enthusiasm, and unfamiliarity meant that any bad feelings were well hidden, but once we were tired, and were not constrained by the politeness required when first encountering strangers, they rose to the surface. Some of the stronger characters were not as charitable as they should have been, I'm sure myself included at times, and some more gentle members of the team were not entirely happy. That said, I certainly wanted to stay, to do more projects, and avoid the bullsh*t that I would have to face up to at home, but just like many people's dreams of some distant utopia, it just didn't exist. I thought of the Oliver Reed film 'Castaway'. By the end of that they were pretty screwed up. The nauseating backpackers were pretty screwed up be the end of Alex Garland's book 'The Beach' as well, especially the one who had been bitten by a shark. And, of course, poor old Piggy was well and truly stuffed in "Lord of the Flies'.
Compared to them we did pretty well, especially as we had a number of very strong personalities in the team. Like everyone else, I felt ambivalent, not because half of me wanted to get back home to loved ones while half of me wanted to stay, because all of me wanted to stay. But I wasn't sure about carrying on down the path to a guaranteed full bore dispute between people I really liked. It was the right time for a wrap.
We packed, and I was ready to leave. After a long series of sincere good-byes to our Italian friends at the port we boarded the ferry to Livorno. Jonathan was subdued, and for once we didn't talk much. I think that he was thinking along the same lines as myself, but for different reasons. Always positive, he wanted to stay, whereas I didn't want to go home. For sure I wanted to stay for positive reasons, but my wishes were more motivated (if that is the word) by the foreboding prospect of returning to a boring job, in the wet and cold UK, together with all the rest of the crap that goes with it. Like my sister said, I could face racing motorbikes, adventuring in remote foreign countries, giving talks to hundreds of people, or fighting in a Tae Kwon Do competition, but the idea of putting the dustbins out, or doing the washing-up terrified me. I didn't want to rot in some suburban dungeon. Life's cruel.