It has been alleged that a band of cannibal pirates recently captured by the Royal Navy, who had tracked them to their lair on a remote Scottish island, were in fact the survivors of a reality TV series who had been abandoned and forgotten by programme makers. “When the supply boats and camera crews stopped coming, they were forced to survive any way they could,” claims seaman Clancy Burkeweather, who spent several months living on the island, after his ship fell victim to the pirates. “The island was virtually barren, with no natural resources, and, with no boat, the mainland was unattainable.” It is believed that, during a nine year reign of terror, the islanders were responsible for the disappearance of at least twelve vessels, including a freighter carrying an arms shipment to Iceland. Initially luring ships to be wrecked on the island’s rocky shore by lighting fires on the beach, the islanders later took to boarding them at sea, using rafts made from driftwood. Usually under cover of fog, the pirates would seize the ships, plunder their cargoes and murder their crews, before opening the sea cocks and sinking them. Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources have confirmed that at least one of the captives – who are currently being held in a prison near Arbroath – has been tentatively identified as BBC sound engineer who was reported missing in 2001, whilst working on the Castaway reality TV series. “If we’re to believe the demented ramblings of this hairy degenerate, the BBC set up the settlement as a fallback, in case the main Castaway site on Taransay didn’t work out,” says a Royal Navy spokesperson. “They deliberately chose people they knew were borderline psychopaths and weirdoes, so as to ensure dramatic footage including lots of conflict, just in case the main community turned out to be really boring and earnest do-gooders.” However, with the TV series based on the original island proving a success, the back-up site was quickly forgotten about and left to fend for itself. “With their crops failing and meager livestock sick, the islanders naturally formed a fertility cult,” says Burkeweather. “During my time on the island I witnessed several of their rituals, including mass male masturbations over the cultivated areas to try and make them fertile, and the ritual buggering of pigs in an attempt to make them more fecund.” At the centre of the cult, claims the sailor, was the worship of a huge wicker effigy in the shape of a television, which, every equinox, the naked islanders, daubed with paint derived from sheep dung and mud, danced wildly around, before hurling themselves prostrate before its ‘screen’. The cult was presided over by its High Priest, hugely bearded former college lecturer Frank Summerslipp, who had quickly become the group’s leader. “He’d taught Ancient History at a sixth form college and had a naturally commanding presence,” Burkeweather notes. “His position was reinforced when the ‘television ritual’ seemed to yield results – they had a couple of good cucumber harvests early on and, later, the first ship wrecks followed the rituals.”

However, cucumbers and the provisions salvaged from wrecked and pirated ships proved insufficient to sustain the group, with Burkeweather claiming that he saw evidence of cannibalism on the island. “I saw them gutting the bodies of my crewmates and hanging the headless and limbless torsos up in a smoke house they’d built, in order to cure them,” he says. “They also had some live captives held in a wooden cage – apparently they were survivors from an earlier shipwreck they were keeping alive for some special ceremony.” Burkeweather was horrified to learn that this ceremony was a human sacrifice to the islanders’ fertility god. “They’d be forced to enter the ‘television’ and perform bizarre acts – biting the heads off chickens, masturbating wildly or shoving bottles and other objects up their backsides, the islanders apparently believing that if their god was sufficiently ‘entertained’, it would provide them with food and provisions,” he recalls. “The castaways would vote on each ‘act’ – the one with the most votes was ‘rewarded’ by being burned alive inside the ‘television’!” Burkeweather believes he was only spared because of is apparent connection with television. “When they came swarming aboard my ship, covered in paint and dressed only in rags, my first reaction was to grab my camcorder from my cabin and start filming them. It was the natural thing to do, anybody would have done the same when faced with such an opportunity – think of the opportunities for selling that kind of footage to TV,” he explains. “When they saw the camera, they backed off, obviously overawed by it.” Instead of killing him, the pirates took him, at spear point, before their leader, Summerslipp, on the island. “They seemed to think I was some kind of messenger from their god, sent to chronicle their worship of him,” Burkeweather explains. “It was clear that they wanted me to film everything that they did.” Nevertheless, the sailor’s possible divine origins didn’t stop the islanders from forcing him to participate in several gruelling initiation rituals. “The worst was when they forced me to dress as a cat and lap up milk, crap in a litter tray and stuff,” he says. “I think they were testing me – if I’d baulked at humiliating myself publicly they’d have known I wasn’t a true emissary of television.”

Although installed as the community’s official chronicler, the sailor was in no doubt that he was still a prisoner, and began to suspect that the islanders planned to dispose of him once they’d learned the secrets of his camera for themselves. Consequently, after several months on the island, he made his escape on a raft. After nearly a week adrift, he was picked up by a passing Royal Navy destroyer. Despite assuming Burkeweather’s tale to be the demented ramblings of a madman, the captain decided to investigate the island. However, when the destroyer’s shore party was met with armed resistance from the islanders, the warship opened fire, reducing the settlement to smoking ruins. The islanders were left with no option but to surrender. It has now emerged that the Navy has recovered from the island what appears to be video footage shot by the original BBC camera crew during the early months of the settlement. MoD sources say that not only does it seem to verify many of Burkeweather’s claims about the islanders’ bizarre religious rites, but it also appears to show the documentary crew actively encouraging the development of the fertility cult for the purposes of TV ratings. “On several occasions, the islanders are clearly “acting up” and performing for the benefit of the camera, with the official BBC documentary maker, identified as Tamara Chisolm, urging Summerslipp and the other cult elders to perform ever more bizarre ceremonies,” explained a Navy spokesman. “She was actively encouraging the inclusion of more sex and violence in their fertility rites.” Eventually, it seems, the film-maker herself fell victim to the very cult she had encouraged. “The last footage shows Chisolm being stripped and bathed by the islanders,” says the spokesperson. “She is heard crying ‘They are washing me like a media whore!’ before she is burned at the stake. After that the batteries on the camera fail and the tape ends.” In spite of the existence of this footage, the BBC is still refusing to either confirm or deny the existence of a Castaway back-up island. “They’re in a quandary over the tapes,” reveals a top broadcasting expert. “Claiming ownership of them, means they’ll have to accept responsibility for the whole fiasco and face another embarrassing scandal. On the other hand, that footage is absolute prime time ratings dynamite which they can’t risk allowing anyone else to screen – it’ll blow the opposition out of the water!”