SHOP owner Karen Bretagne has described her decision to take part in a gruelling reality TV show as a ‘mid-life crisis’.
Karen, pictured right, who is appearing in the fourth series of the survival show The Island with Bear Grylls, lost three and a half stone during the six weeks filming.
The 50-year-old, who with husband Bernard own Gerald’s supermarkets in Dawlish and Dawlish Warren, endured being abandoned on a remote, uninhabited island in the Pacific off the coast of Panama with 15 strangers.
Left with little more than the clothes she was wearing, her team of older contestants had to make their own fire and catch fish to eat.
Karen described herself as a menopausal crazy woman for enduring six weeks on a remote, uninhabited island with 15 strangers.
She said: ‘I think it was a bit of a mid-life crisis.
‘It is brutal and nothing prepares you for how brutal it is. As an armchair viewer you think it can’t really be that hard but it is.
‘I had some humdinger arguments in there, it’s so intense and brings out the rage.’
Karen, who was the oldest woman on the show, had not seen any footage so was unaware of how the programme would be edited until she watched it on screen.
Husband Bernard had also applied to go on the show but it was Karen who got through.
The process saw Karen go through various interviews as well as a physical and medical test and a session with a psychiatrist.
The participants were thrown off a boat onto the island which is in the Pacific off Panama and left with only their clothes, which were by this point wet, two knives and enough water for 24 hours.
She explained: ‘We had been trained how to light a fire but it took us 18 hours to get it going, it was madness.
‘We were given three fishing hooks but caught nothing for three days so we didn’t eat a thing.
‘There was a lot of rain and Panama had the worst weather for 29 years while we were filming.’
The lack of food led to Karen, who has previously appeared on Come Dine With Me and Lorraine Kelly’s Bikini Diet show, losing three and a half stone.
She said: ‘I have always been a size 16 but when we finished the six weeks, I looked horrendous.
‘We had had no mirrors or comb, no toilet roll.
‘I looked like my mother but I have put all the weight back on now.
‘The strange thing was I am always thinking about food but there, I didn’t think about it one bit. It was the weirdest feeling.
‘I was the least fit person there physically but I think I was the toughest mentally.
‘It makes you do things outside your comfort zone and it was a very intense experience.’