Win The Wilderness follows six British couples as they compete for the ownership of an extraordinary home in the Alaskan wilderness.
Situated over one hundred miles from the nearest road, the three storey property is the home and legacy of Duane and Rena Ose, the married couple who spent over thirty years building it. Now both in their seventies, and with their children unable to take it on, the Oses are searching for a couple to inherit their life’s work.
Travelling deep into the Alaskan wilderness, the destination of the hopeful couples is Lost Lake Wilderness Camp. Here they will live together and face four keys tests, each based on the Ose’s own experiences in the wild.
We know that since the series aired, there have been some questions about the project so we thought it was a good time to share how we did it.
Q: How did you find Duane and Rena?
We first started working with the Oses on this project in 2017. At that time our American colleagues had found their story and had worked with them on an idea they hoped to offer US networks. When that didn’t happen, we picked it up in the UK as we knew there was a real appetite for escapism and a series that celebrated the call of the wild.
Q: Why only British Contributors?
We knew that many people are drawn to Alaska from all over the world for its independent spirit and we were warmly welcomed by many Alaskan residents who worked with us on this series. Being Alaskan seems as much a state of mind as it is about being born in the state. After all the Oses weren’t born in the state but they embodied the Alaskan spirit.
So with that in mind and the BBC’s backing, we flew to Ose Mountain in the summer of 2017 and began a conversation with Duane and Rena about a version with British contributors that would work for a UK audience.
The Oses agreed to our plan, asking only that we make a series that told their story in a way that would make Alaska proud.
Given their remarkable story and the incredible wilderness home they had built, not to mention the backdrop of the Alaskan Interior, we felt confident we could fulfil that hope.
Q: How did you find suitable candidates?
Twofour worked closely at every stage of the process with Duane and Rena to ensure they were happy and to get a clear understanding of the skills and more importantly the character and strength of relationship required to take on a property in the Alaskan wilderness.
The casting process was thorough and extensive, reaching out to a wide variety of couples with varying backgrounds. The authentic nature of the series meant that ultimately, only couples who genuinely harboured an ambition of inheriting a home in Alaska and had the potential to make it logistically viable were cast in the final six.
Q: Did Duane and Rena have the final say on who won?
All the contributors worked hard throughout the series but Mark and Emily were chosen by Duane and Rena to take on their legacy, with Ose Mountain legally signed over to them in a Fairbanks attorney’s office shortly after filming was finished in the summer of 2019. Since then Mark and Emily have been the proud owners of a wilderness home with trails and an airstrip of their own too.
Mark and Emily showed throughout our process the skills, determination and strength of relationship the Ose’s had wanted to find. They also built strong ties with all the Alaskans they met, many of whom they now call friends.
Q: What Happened Next?
Mark and Emily went back to Alaska and spent a good amount of time with Duane and Rena on Ose Mountain learning the ropes. While they were there, they got busy, breaking trails towards the nearby lakes, clearing some trees for firewood and just getting acclimatised with the site. After this Duane and Rena settled in a new home in Minnesota.
We travelled to Minnesota in November 2019 to show Duane and Rena some of the finished episodes to make sure they were happy with how their story was told and we’re pleased to say they were and those same episodes are what transmitted in January 2020.
Mark and Emily then started to make a plan in conjunction with a charitable organisation in the UK for how they would use Ose Mountain as a retreat for Veterans who served with the allied forces of the US, UK and further afield.
If it wasn’t for Covid-19 travel restrictions those plans would be well underway now.
Twofour continue to stay in close contact with Mark and Emily who are as busy as ever on their farm in the UK - including running their veteran scheme there this summer. They even found time to invite some of their fellow contributors from the series up to the farm where they built a “Lost lake” camp.
Like everyone connected with this project we were deeply saddened by the passing of Rena Ose this year and our thoughts remain with Duane for his loss. Rena was and always will be remembered as an incredible woman.