RACE ACROSS THE WORLD
A strong contender for my favourite show of the year so far is the unexpectedly moving – bearing in mind it’s literally all about moving – Race Across The World, the third series of which finished on Wednesday having become, on occasion, tear-jerkingly illuminating about the contestants’ relationships.
I know this seems like absurdly high praise for a reality competition in which five pairs compete to win £20,000 by racing each other across Canada with no mobile phones and a tiny budget equal to the cost of the flights they aren’t allowed to take.
A strong contender for Kathryn Flett’s favourite show of the year so far is the unexpectedly moving – bearing in mind it’s literally all about moving – Race Across The World
However, as it unfolded it became so much more than a format, recalling another great reality hit, Faking It (2000-2006, RIP). No surprise, then, to learn that RATW shares the same production DNA.
The show debuted in 2019 with a follow-up in 2020 but despite the fact I spent 2020 binge-watching almost anything, RATW had entirely passed me by.
Eventually, a few weeks ago a friend with a 14-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son told me I mustn’t miss it: ‘Such great telly! And one of the very few things we all watch together.’ So I caught up.
Better late than never, right? Unless of course you’re a contestant on RATW in pursuit of £20k, in which case never would have conceivably been better than late…
Yet however desirable it may be to win the cash, this was never any of the contestants’ main goal – instead, as their stories unfolded, it became clear that each pair was looking to achieve something far more meaningful.
In the case of chalk-and-cheese brothers Marc, 36, and Michael, 34, it was about repairing a fractured sibling relationship that had deteriorated after the death of their dad, while for father-and-daughter duo Kevin, 53, and Claudia, 27, it was about building a loving relationship that, due to divorce, they’d never really had.
Meanwhile, best friends from their teens Cathie, 49, and Tricia, 48, were looking to prove that two busy middle-aged ladies still possessed an adventurous streak by cramming in as many memory-making moments as possible before Tricia loses her already failing eyesight completely. While the second father/daughter duo, Ladi, 52, and Monique, 25, were already close, they sought a fun-packed last hurrah before Monique carried on moving out into the world… but would Ladi manage to tool-up his ‘princess’ (‘I love travelling, but on holiday’) with enough life skills to complete the journey?
And would husband-and-wife medics Mobeen, 31, and Zainib, 32, manage to escape their post-Covid routine of ‘working and watching TV’ in order to have the adventures they deserve, not least as a distraction from their inability to become parents after ‘trying for eight years’.
This week Kathryn, pictured, delighted watching Race Across The World and found the ending ‘as satisfying as anyone could wish for’
Rest assured, I’m not going to be the one to spoil the journey and its outcome for viewers yet to embark on it (the whole series is now available on iPlayer).
The £20k isn’t the contestants’ main goal, they’re after something far more meaningful
However, I will say that the ending is as satisfying as anyone could wish for: everyone’s a ‘winner’ (it’s so brilliantly cast and so well edited that everybody ends up feeling like the viewers’ new best friend), and that includes Canada, a country I’d never previously been interested in visiting but which is now (I’m sure the Tourist Board will be pleased to hear!) at the top of my bucket list.
A new Tom Jones? Why why why, Delilah?
Any screenwriter slicing and dicing a big, fat, densely plotted classic novel to fit into four hours of telly will find it hard to avoid sacrificing much of the original nuance.
However, I’m halfway through ITVX’s shiny adaptation of Henry Fielding’s 1749 comic novel The History Of Tom Jones, A Foundling and I still can’t quite work out why it needs to exist on television at all.
Because whether you loved, loathed or were indifferent to Netflix’s Bridgerton, there’s no doubt it’s knocked the stuffing out of traditional costume dramas.
Kathryn says that Solly McLeod as Tom (right) is ‘not sufficiently Sex Bomb-y, while super-pretty Sophie Wilde (left) is far from wild enough’
It’s not that Tom Jones needs party scenes with everybody waltzing to Stormzy in order to appeal. No, it just needs to convince us that, for example, making leading lady Sophia the voiceover/narrator (in the original it’s Tom) as well as the mixed-race daughter of a Jamaican slave and plantation owner who has been shipped over to be raised by her white grandfather isn’t simply a contemporary plot conceit that turns out to be more interesting in theory than it does on screen.
What’s New Pussycat? Well, not much, sadly.
Solly McLeod as Tom (looking like a cross between Jamie Oliver and Ed Sheeran) is not sufficiently Sex Bomb-y, while super-pretty Sophie Wilde is far from wild enough. Indeed, it’s a lack of on-screen va-va-voom that stands in contrast to its saucy three-centuries-old literary source.
Now AJ’s got the lot!
Every time I switch on the telly there’s AJ Odudu, the Blackburn beauty with the broadest Lancashire accent on the box. Fine by me; she’s warm and enthusiastic fronting the interior design competition The Big Interiors Battle (Fri, Ch4), which has the prize of a £250k Sheffield flat. Now she’s hosting The Greatest Auction (Tue, Ch4), featuring unusual collectables. Bargain Hunt it ain’t; the star lot last week was a Banksy piece that sold for the price of that flat.
Now AJ Odudu (pictured) is hosting The Greatest Auction (Tue, Ch4), featuring unusual collectables
- I thought Amol Rajan Interviews Piers Morgan (BBC iPlayer) would be a fun busman’s holiday, and sure enough, watching one skilled and sparky journalist interview another didn’t disappoint. Morgan is very comfortable identifying as a canny captain leading war-on-wokery troops along the culture war frontline (aka Twitter), claiming (with his turbo-ego very much intact) that ‘most of my opinions are what most people think’. Oh, and no prizes for guessing who’s ‘the biggest invader of privacy in royal history’. Highly entertaining.
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