Just when it looked as if time might be running out for the survival show, along came Alone to breathe new life into the genre.

But what makes this series different from The Island with Bear Grylls, Naked and Afraid, Apocalypse Man or even Dude, You’re Screwed?

Ten contestants are sent to an unforgiving and remote part of the world, miles from the nearest competitor, with nothing but a backpack to set up camp and two cameras to document their experiences. Whoever can survive the wild (and their own company) the longest wins $500,000.

The biggest challenge is not outwitting bears or adverse weather conditions, but learning to deal with isolation – and it makes for gripping TV. But the show’s success has sparked plenty of debate online about whether the contestants are truly ‘alone’.

This clip reveals how it’s done. As Shawn Witt, the show’s executive producer, explains, ‘There are no producers around. When you watch this show, it’s obvious these guys are very alone and potentially in danger.’

Around once a week, the contestants do receive a brief visit with virtually no interaction, purely so the production team can swap the batteries and SD cards in the cameras and do a swift medical evaluation. Just to prove how tough it can get, season 1 winner Alan Kay lost 60lb during his 56 days in voluntary exile.

Find out how long season 3’s group can survive in Patagonia, the southernmost region of South America, with just the cold, wind, rain and a stray puma for company. Rather them than us…

Alone S3 starts 9pm, Friday 17 March, on History, BT channel 327