John the Baptist, the Bible hero most fond of splashing around in pools of water, stepped onto the dry land of Mt Ararat on Day 40 of the Ark gameshow (Friday 30 May) to claim the prize of £666. He immediately returned the prize and asked for it to be shared among the other 12 contestants.
In an irony-laden final twist to the contest, which launched on Easter Sunday, John was the only one of the contestants not to walk the Ark's plank and plunge to the depths below. In the final vote, John received 60.3 per cent compared to 39.7 per cent for Queen Esther.
The locust and wild honey-eating New Testament prophet was played for 40 days and 40 nights by the Rev. Jeremy 'Jem' Clines, 34-year-old chaplain of St John's College, York, UK. For more on Jeremy, click here.
The final show on Day 40 brought to an end speculation about a possible romantic relationship between John and the runner-up, Esther. The two characters had been very close over the final two weeks of the Ark, but a conversation between them both on the Animal Deck just before the winner was announced produced a stalemate.
"Why don't you just come clean," Esther suggested, "and tell me what the heck has been going on in your mind these last 39 days?"
"My question to you would be the same," replied John. "And yet I think either of us answering it wouldn't be helpful." Earlier, he had pointed out that Esther was already married. "You are a married queen, and I am a prophet who stood up to injustice and falsehood in a royal marriage and got killed for it."
The show also produced a final surprise. John was escorted down to the Animal Deck by the Ark Angel Gabe, who opened a door onto Mt Ararat. Outside, all 11 arkmates who had walked the plank over the previous weeks were waiting for John and there was a tearful and joyful reunion.
To read the transcript of the final show from the Ark, click here and then select 30/5/2003 from the pull-down menu, together with the room name you want to see.