Robson Crusoe: A Surprising Adventure - One goes mad on an island

Robson Green followed in the footsteps sort of  of Robinson Crusoe in a documentary on ITV
Robson Green followed in the footsteps sort of of Robinson Crusoe in a documentary on ITV

When I was a boy, I wanted to be a soldier, or a policeman, or possibly Alan Kennedy, the moustachioed, tightly-permed left-back of the all-conquering Liverpool team of the early 1980s.

Geordie actor Robson Green, on the other hand, wanted to be Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe’s seafarer who was left castaway on a desert island for decades.

As I grew up, of course, I came to my senses, and stopped wanting to be someone likely to be shot at – and started supporting my local team, not the glory-hunters from Anfield.

As Robson grew up, however, he never lost the desire to find a desert island upon which to be marooned: “To a lad from rainy Northumberland, it sounded like the ideal adventure.”

And so Robson Crusoe: A Surprising Adventure (ITV, Tuesday, 9pm) limped apologetically on to our screens. In it, Robson found himself alone on a Filipino desert island. Well, alone apart from a camera crew and a chicken.

And a doctor,as we discovered when Robson contracted gastroenteritis within three hours of arriving on the island.

So, after surviving less than a day, he is taken back to civilisation for IV fluids and a good rest in a soft bed.

Not really very Robinson Crusoe, and in fact, the whole programme emphasised how little Green’s experience resembled that of Crusoe. Green himself kept drawing attention to it: “A few snakes and lizards – nothing compared to the beasts and cannibals that worried Crusoe, of course.”

The programme appeared to have very little point. Green gave no historical context, no real expert advice on survival techniques, very little insight into the psychological effects of being alone.

The only reason you could find for the programme was that his name sounds a bit like Robinson. If that’s the case, what are the ITV commissioning editors working on now? Alexander Armstrong: Man on the Moon. Or maybe Jack Cousteau: Dee Goes Deep Sea Diving.

In the end, it was just another travelogue with a famous face. Not interesting, or illuminating, just there, castaway in the schedules and left to fend for itself.

n Last week, I said the highlight of the festive telly was the Great Christmas Bake-Off.

Actually, having caught up with it on iPlayer, I now know it was Peter Pan Goes Wrong – a brilliantly constructed farce which had my whole family laughing for days. Catch it while you can.