Reality TV: Armenians at Fort Boyard

Thirty well-known Armenians take part in a grueling competition in France

Fort Boyard to be aired on Armenia TV in the fall

Published: Friday July 03, 2009

The Armenian team at Fort Boyard, alongside some members of the staff.

Fort Boyard.

A group of Armenians had gathered in the city of La Rochelle, France, on June 19-24. This was no coincidental meeting. The group, consisting of well-known Armenian athletes, actors, television anchors, and singers, was on the attack in the famous Boyard island fortress. Like groups from other countries, they were trying to capture the keys to the fortress on the highly-rated international TV show Fort ­Boyard,

Fort Boyard is a French game show created by Jacques Antoine, first broadcast in 1990. It is set and filmed on the real Fort Boyard in France. Contestants taking part in the game have to complete a series of challenges to win prize money. The game focuses mainly on physical and endurance challenges.

Who's who?

Who were the 30 Armenian heroes on the island fortress? The group consisted of Arame, Arsen Safaryan, Armen Petrossyan (Mench), Artavasd Markosyan (Bernard's Artyom), Arevik Garapetyan (martial artist), Anna Movsisyan (actress), Gayane Aslamasyan, Gor Vardanyan, Gevorg Altunyan, Erna Elizbaryan, Lilu, Louisa Ghambaryan, Hovhaness Azoyan, Yuri Vardanyan, Mark Saghatelyan, Mikael Boghosyan, Misho, Mgo (Kargin), Nazeni Hovhanessyan, Shprot, Bedros Ghazaryan (Kentron), Razmik Amyan, Sofi Mkheyan, Tigran Petrossyan (chess grandmaster), Felix Khachatryan, Armen Petikyan (soccer player), Karen Sarukhanyan (karate), Karen Shakhmuradyan (businessperson), and Anjelika Aghajanyan (flight attendant).

Skeptics might ask what this crew of Armenians could have accomplished at Fort Boyard. However, as all those who have returned this past week to Yerevan collectively affirm, from the producers to the stars, they did more than was possible, more than we could have imagined.

The challenges they had to endure, indeed, weren't easy at all, as the courageous Yuri Vardanyan affirms: "The challenges were interesting but extremely difficult, especially since we didn't know what was waiting for us in the mysterious rooms."

Scorpions and heights

Louisa Ghambaryan recalls: "Snakes, scorpions, fright, repugnance, darkness, heights....What else can I say? We weren't victorious, but we left with our pride intact. I jumped from such a great height that even now I am amazed at how I was able to do that."

Erna Elizbaryan was just as enthusiastic: "I still can't understand what happened to us there; how I was able to overcome the very difficult water challenge."

Not all of the challenges were without mishaps. Lilu is still showing off the "battle scars" on her leg that she sustained during one of the challenges at the fortress to all of her friends and family. Because of her injury, they didn't allow her to continue with the challenge, and because of that she found herself locked in an underground cell."Thank God, they let me go in the end," said the singer with a smile on her face.

Actor Gor Vardanyan also received a serious injury to his leg, but he heroically fought on till the end of the game.

By the time the special charter flight from La Rochelle to Yerevan landed at Zvartnots International Airport, rumors were floating about that a snake had bitten Mark Saghatelyan. "I wanted to be with the snakes, but the snakes were opposed to it," Mark said in a grave tone.  However, as it turns out, a snake had actually bitten Mark. After he received the required medical attention, he quickly joined his team and continued with the game.

Hovhaness Azoyan's challenge, in his words, was as comedic as it was brutal. Hovhaness did not divulge any information or details about his experience, leaving it a surprise for the viewers when the show airs.

The  Armenian team's experience at Fort Boyard will be aired on Armenia TV beginning in September and running through 12 weeks. In the meantime, Sofi Mkheyan's and Felix Khachatryan's daily blogs about their experiences will be aired.

About the game

At Fort Boyard, the Armenian participants were divided into six teams, with five people in each team. At the end of the game, everyone had become closer and tighter than ever.

About the presenters

The professionalism and warm treatment of the presenters at Fort Boyard, Tina Kandelaki and Ruben Jaghinyan, significantly helped the Armenian team's enthusiasm and success; even though Mr. Boyard Janghinyan, according to the regulations, was "on the side" of the fortress. During some of the more difficult challenges, Tina who was presenting in Russian, was cheering the participants on with a Tiflis-Armenian accent: "Aghchi jan, hasi, dzerkd dzki, banalin brni..." Hrachia Harutyunyan, who was presenting the participants with intellectual challenges, was no less professional and kind and was doing everything to help the participants solve the intellectual riddles.

About the crew

During each day of shooting, a production crew over 120 strong was with the Armenian contestants. They worked 16-hour days, without any breaks. According to the participants, the most interesting and comical thing throughout the game was the fact that the permanent members of the show - little people Paspartu and Pastani, the attractive Labuli and Mistress of the Tigers Monica appeared to understand Armenian.... Anytime something was said to them by the Armenian contestants, they would carry it out, as if they totally understood Armenian.

Fort Boyard is a fort on the west coast of France located between the  Île-d'Aix and the Île d'Oléron  in the Pertuis d'Antioche straits. Construction on the fort was first considered during the reign of Louis XIV but didn't begin in earnest until 1801, under Napoleon, in order to protect the coast from foreign incursions.

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The Cafesjian Foundation has taken a difficult decision to close The Armenian Reporter. We regret that we are forced to take this decision after more than eight years of publishing. We thank our readers and all individuals who have contributed to the Reporter. Kathleen Cafesjian Baradaran Chair, Cafesjian Family Foundation

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