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Star Trek’s William Shatner is one of the Stars on Mars, set in Australia

It's got a big budget, a crew of 250 and 12 international celebs all competing for top space invader position.

It's got a big budget, a crew of 250 and 12 international celebs all competing for top space invader position. Photo: Fox

What do disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong, Bruce Willis’s daughter Tallulah, US figure skater Adam Rippon and pro wrestler Ronda Rousey have in common?

Nothing really, until now.

In this celebrity reality TV endeavour, a group of intrepid explorers (and nine others) compete for podium status after arriving in the South Australian outback town of Coober Pedy to film Stars on Mars.

Hosted by Star Trek icon Willian Shatner (aka Captain James T Kirk), 92, the show “is a social experiment unlike anything else on television”.

“It’s the most realistic celebrity Mars colony simulation ever created,” Shatner says in a newly-released teaser trailer.

“Our celebrities embarked on a daring mission to outer space, living 24/7 in our hyper-realistic Mars habitat, in a social experiment unlike anything else on television.

“They’ve come here to prove they have what it takes to survive … this mission will test [their] leadership skills. Will they survive? Will they thrive?

“Only one will make it to the end.”

‘Celebronauts’

The premise is familiar.

Sending celebrities (unknown to each other) into a jungle as in I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! or into a purpose-built Big Brother house is a tried-and-tested measure for creating conflict, drama and, above all, great television.

On this fake Mars enviro, it’s something different.

The rest of the cast list is US comedian Natasha Leggero, NFL star Marshawn Lynch, actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick Ass), US figure Tom Schwartz, Richard Sherman, Porsha Williams Guobadia, Tallulah Willis, Tinashe and Ariel Winter.

Shatner is a big drawcard.

He is synonymous with space – he played an alien on 3rd Rock from the Sun and covered David Bowie’s Space Oddity – and let’s not forget his stunning success rate conquering new galaxies as Captain Kirk with Star Trek.

Sitting inside a makeshift mission control – which looks nothing like the deck of the USS Enterprise – Shatner addresses his cast and says: “If you need anything, you’re completely on your own.”

Pre-production and set construction began in March, when average daily temperatures were above 30 degrees Celsius, as locals began spotting four space-like domes, including one near the Umoona community gymnasium which was used as a studio for 250 crew.

Shatner, who was on a real-life suborbital spaceflight in 2021, told ET  the conditions were “overwhelming”, with the cast “confined to quarters at the times [while] the circumstances outside were really ugly”.

“They were courageous and enthusiastic,” the host revealed, adding that over time, “they began to evolve into a team, into caring for one another.”

Watch the 'Stars on Mars' trailer

Source: Reality Club Fox

Shatner said the celebrity contestants “required intelligence, which is very rare at this time” but “there was a psychological element” that became a major part of the show.

“The psychological element became something palpable.”

In the promo, all the contestants are decked out in impressive NASA-style space suits, and we hear from Mintz-Plasse, who reckons Rousey has what it takes to win the big prize (whatever that is).

Lynch was a little delusional, asking whether he looked like a real astronaut.

Shatner says [there were] “human emotions that you would have never expected”.

“There was selflessness and concern and team spirit. I mean, it was remarkable … there was a humanity that I would never have thought of.

“It was beautiful.”

The new, unscripted series began filming in May as part of the Australian government’s Location Incentive, with additional support from the South Australian Film Corporation.

Coober Pedy has long been favoured by filmmakers, from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome to Pitch Black and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and more recently Ivan Sen’s outback film noir, Limbo, starring Simon Baker.

This time the opal capital of the world was transformed into the surface of Mars, as the celebs experience what it would be like to be part of a space program exploring and living on the Red Planet.

With the remote outback in and around Coober Pedy imitating the Martian landscape, this simulation will see celebrities experience physical and mental challenges inspired by real-life Mars exploration programs.

It’s the largest TV format production ever filmed in SA.

Federal Minister for the Arts Tony Burke says Stars On Mars “might be set on another planet – but this production will have real-world impacts for the Australian screen industry, supporting local jobs and expertise”.

To be clear, no one (that we know of) actually lives on Mars.

Stars on Mars was commissioned by Fox Entertainment in the US, and produced by Fremantle’s Eureka Productions, and heads to our screens on June 5.

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