The other day, I had the chance to talk to Ruth England, host of the FOX show Forever Eden. Ruth called me directly from the secret location where the show is filmed, and it was a pleasure to talk to her. Here's what she had to say:
Ruth, how did you find out about the show?
I was lying in bed one morning, and my agent came banging on my door because I had my cell phone switched off. I had moved into a new apartment, and I hadn't gotten the phone lines put in. So, my agent came banging on the door, saying, "Get on a flight to L.A…now!" In less than two hours, I was on a plane to L.A., and I met some people from the production company and FOX, and they offered me the job. I was flown back to London for one day, and then I was flown out to the location the next day. It was like a whirlwind.
What did they tell you about the show? Did you know all about it before you got out there?
I didn't know a huge amount about it. I didn't even know where I was going. I knew it was a reality-style show being cast as a soap opera. I knew I was going somewhere tropical and beautiful. I was pretty much kept in the dark.
Did they tell you at the outset that it could conceivably go on indefinitely?
Yeah, absolutely. I was looking at my contract the other day, and I'm sewn in for the rest of my natural life (*laughter*)
How were you able to keep track of all the twists and turns on the show?
It's quite difficult, obviously. I mean, we only broadcast an hour's worth, and it's going on 24/7. But, there's a lot of people working here. I have assistants and a very strong team of producers, and they keep me updated.
So, what's been your favorite twist so far?
Um, I think so far it's Simon turning into Chris. That got such a great reaction. But, my real favorite one is yet to come. We've been discussing it, and I'm so excited. It hasn't been implemented yet, but there's a really, really good one coming.
Do you have any input on the twists?
I can suggest stuff, but whether they listen or not is another thing. (*laughter*)
What did you think about being called "The Queen of Hell"?
Oh, Jordan…bless him. I love him. (*laughter*)
So, obviously, it didn't affect you too much?
Oh, no. I mean, it's quite funny. I mean, I am the messenger of bad news, and Jordan obviously hadn't heard the phrase "don't shoot the messenger". I can understand why he said that.
How do you think you'd do on the show if you were a contestant rather than the host?
Oh, God. Appallingly. (*laughter*) I like being in control of my own environment, so I wouldn’t put myself there. Of course, there's a huge amount of money involved, and everybody can be bought, so I might. (*laughter*)
Did you have a lot of interaction with the guys outside of the show, or were you pretty much on your own and only showed up to deliver news? How did that work?
I had no interaction with the cast. Very, very little. I mean, obviously we live in the same place. They all see me, they all shout over to me, and I'll say hi back. But, I'm not allowed to have conversations with them, because I can't get to know them. That might affect how I treat them. It's really difficult, because I'm a naturally friendly person.
So, what did you do with your down time?
Well, today is a non-shooting day, and I love those days. It really depends on how much we're shooting. On some days, from the moment I get up, I'm surrounded by five people—someone talking about makeup, someone talking about wardrobe, someone talking about scripts, etc.—and we're working the whole time and filming. On another day, I'm lying on the beach drinking piña coladas. (*laughter*)
Since the show could conceivably go on indefinitely, were you ever worried that the public might grow weary and lose interest?
Um, I don't really think so. I mean, look at soap operas. They just get stronger. People get drawn into them and start to relate to the characters like friends. And, I think these guys even have more of an appeal because it's not scripted. They make their own story.
What were you able/allowed to tell your family and friends about the show and your participation in it?
(*laughter*) Nothing! I had to fly out to this location, and my mother was saying to me, "Darling, where are you going?" I said, "Oh, I don't know." "How long are you going to be there?" "Oh, I don't know." "What are you going to be doing?" "I'm not really sure." (*laughter*)
Since the show has aired, have you been allowed to have contact with your family? What do they think now?
Yes, I have. I mean, I told my mum where I am, obviously. It's secret, but I think you're allowed to tell your family. I've told them what I'm doing, but it's difficult. I mean, we are absolutely in the middle of nowhere. I have to stand at a funny angle sometimes just to get a cell phone signal. We're out in the middle of the jungle in the middle of nowhere.
With the potentially indefinite run, you're committed to hosting the show for however long it's on, is that right?
Yeah, for the rest of my life. (*laughter*)
What makes you the best host for this show? What do you bring to the show that makes you better suited to host it than someone else?
Um, I do have the ability to turn off…to shut off and be quite schoolmarmy and cold. You have to be to survive. I mean, you cannot make friends with the cast and get to know them. You have to understand, while these people are here, this is their entire world. Little things become very, very important. You have tears flowing all the time, and I have to be a bit removed from it all.
Who would you say has been the most underestimated in terms of their scheming and manipulating? Has there been anyone who surprised you?
Um, no, not really. It's all human nature. They all kind of play the game. I mean, I kind of like Kassie and Claudia because they don't. They seem to be very natural, decent, nice human beings. They don't seem to really play the game. I'm more surprised that they don't. I was expecting everybody to be playing it.
Who has irritated you the most?
(*laughter*) Jason can be a little bit irritating.
This show seems to have a lot in common with another FOX show, Paradise Hotel. Have you seen that show?
No. That show is just starting to air in the U.K. right now, so I haven't seen any of it.
It seems like things can get really catty and vicious on the show, and like you said, that's just human nature. Did you ever find yourself feeling sorry for these guys, or was anything and everything fair game since they put themselves out there willingly?
I think the latter. I mean, you know, they're getting paid to be in this beautiful place. They put themselves up for it; they're not children. I mean, when someone's crying and they're genuinely upset, you feel for them. But you have to look at it in the context of why they're having that emotion. I mean, they're on a TV show. Nobody held a gun to their head and made them go on it.
What's your favorite and least favorite thing about the show?
My favorite thing about being here—apart from the beach and the piña coladas (*laughter*)—is that I can watch this 24/7 if I want. Least favorite? I guess like with any job, it's having to get up and go to work when the sun is shining outside.
Have you found that there are times when you have had enough and just want to get away from the drama?
Yeah, sometimes you do have to step back, or you'll go insane. But, other times, you just get completely drawn into it.
Are the Edenites just drunk all the time?
(*laughter*) Not all the time. They do drink. Matt seems to like to drink every now and then, but I think he's got it a bit more in check now. Remember, there's really not a huge amount to do. They're enjoying themselves.
If you had the chance, would you host another reality show?
Yeah, it's been really good fun. Yeah.
Knowing what you know now, would you host this one again?
Yeah, absolutely, yeah. I mean, we've got such a good mix of people working on this show. It's like a big family.
You've said there are some really good twists coming up. What are some teasers you can give the fans of the show about what's to come?
Um, there's one really huge twist. Something happens to a small number of our guests which they never could have expected in a million years.
How far in advance are you told what the twists are?
It depends. Sometimes they tell me about things a few weeks before, and other times I'll be handed the script and it's there. It varies. I mean, things like Simon the waiter…I knew a little bit before, but they didn't want to tell me too early in case something on my face gave the game away.
Ruth, that's really all I have. Thank you so much for taking time away from suntanning and piña coladas to talk to me today.
(*laughter*) No problem. It was a pleasure.
I don’t know when you'll have the chance, but we'd love to have you stop by our site and say hello sometime.
Sure thing. Thanks so much!
My thanks to Ruth for taking the time to talk to me and to the people at FOX for arranging the interview.