It has been announced in the last 12 hours that one of the original Survivor Borneo contestants BB Andersen has sadly passed away during the week at the age of 77. Whether or not you are a long time fan of the show or somebody who has casually watched it over the years, there is no denying that B.B. was part of history in 2000 and despite his short time in the game, had a massive impact on the show that will always be remembered. We had the honour of having the last ever interview with BB back in January earlier this year and remember all the good times that B.B. gave us as well as all those other times.
Whenever anyone thinks of the ‘old man’ on Survivor: Borneo, they think of Rudy Boesch. However, Survivor fans around the world know that Rudy wasn’t the only older man on Borneo, with fellow competitor, B.B. Anderson opposing him on the Pagong tribe.
At sixty-four, B.B. (William Byron), was the oldest member of the Pagong tribe, brining a wealth of life experiences to the tribe. He bought a strong work ethic into the game, after working as a contractor for much of his life, which caused him to clash with tribe members over daily, camp life chores, such as shelter building and washing clothes.
B.B. originally thought that voting his own tribe members out was beneficial in the pre-merge stage of the game, thinking that they should lose the challenge. Therefore, after Pagong lost their first Immunity Challenge on Day 6, the tribe decided that they had had enough of B.B. and his work ethic and he become the second person to be eliminated from the game.
Since his time on the show, it was a long standing ‘joke’ amongst Survivor fans that BB had in fact passed away due to his absence from Survivor related events and other things such as social media. He did ‘resurface’ during the 2012 US Presidential elections when he was seen contributing to Mitt Romney’s campaign, and in January this year we managed to connect with B.B. (over Twitter of all places) to arrange the interview.
Despite the fact it had been 13 years since his time on the show, B.B. still managed to talk about his time on the ground-breaking season that was Borneo:
“I was sorry I made the decision [to want to leave], I wish I hadn’t but you can’t redo stuff. I got along with Gretchen real well, and Greg as well as a couple of the young girls. It wasn’t that I didn’t get along well with them. It was just that they would have a bucket of rice that they would leave open. It’s things like that you shouldn’t do. It was very irresponsible. I only competed in one or two challenges, I didn’t have a problem with that. They were fun to do,” he remembered.
“Everyone [when I got home] thought I was nuts! My wife and daughter thought I was nuts! Then my daughter was made at me for being voted out! She thought I should’ve stayed longer. I thought people were kidding me [with the reception] but they weren’t. They found it a bigger deal than I did. People still would stop me and I would sign stuff. And then people would write me. I always answered everybody and if anybody sent me a picture I always sent it back to them. I would never jerk about it. I thought I got into it so I would follow through. I never did refuse.”
B.B. also did manage to star in his very own Reebok commercial in 2000, and was even the source of a Family Guy parody a few years later:
Unfortunately, after several months of being unwell, B.B. passed away on October 29th of brain cancer at the age of seventy-seven. B.B. leaves behind his wife, Jan, and five children.
Speaking to People magazine, host Jeff Probst said “B.B. was one of the original cast members who launched Survivor back in 2000. He was a powerful presence on the show and that zest for epic adventure was at the heart of everything he did. I was very saddened to hear of his passing.”
Fellow Borneo contestants also spoke about their sadness at his death to People and The Examiner:
“B.B. was a good man with whom I shared a memorable experience. My thoughts and condolences go out to his family.” – Richard Hatch
“After the show, we spent some time doing events together. He was the man. He enjoyed life. He knew good scotch from bad scotch. He was a mover and shaker type of guy. And he was tough: we were on the equator and it was like 100 degrees. He worked hard to build a shelter. He was an impressive guy, and an influence on me.” – Joel Klug
“B.B. Andersen was a great guy. During the first season he was our leader. I think we was the best shelter builder in the history of the game. He was very smart and played the game he wanted to play. He was fun and will be missed.” – Gervase Peterson
B.B becomes only the second former castaway to pass away since Jenn Lyon lost her battle with breast cancer in 2010. During the Heroes vs Villains reunion there was a short tribute to Jenn played, and it would be expected that during the Blood vs Water reunion a similar one will be played, especially since one of B.B’s cast mates is on that season.
From everyone here at Survivor Oz we would like to extend our condolences to B.B’s family and friends during this difficult time. He will be missed.