Show Discussion: Race Across the World

By | March 3, 2019

Sundays, 9pm,
BBC2

Five pairs race from Greenwich, London to Singapore without taking a plane or using a smartphone. They have enough money for the equivalent airfare (£1,329, fact fans) and if they run out they have to earn more. They’ll have to hitchhike their way around the world taking in five checkpoints, and there’s a cash prize for the winners at the end (although at time of writing we don’t know what it is).

We’re pondering if this is an official version of Peking Express, it certainly sounds very similar. Did Studio Lambert get the rights to it, or is this just a similar show along the same lines?

Anyway, let us know what you think in the comments. Will it be awarded a Dancing Dawson?

23 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Race Across the World

  1. TVs Michael Harmstone

    I’m surprised to say this, but RATW is *really* good. It’s hit the right tone, the contestants aren’t annoying and it seems like a real challenge. Eliminations start next week – whoever makes it to the checkpoint last goes home.

    It’s not a Peking Express clone, just as it’s not an Amazing Race clone – it straddles the line between the two. They can do odd jobs to make money, but there’s no challenges and no host – just whoever makes it to Singapore first wins 20k.

    Reply
  2. Greg

    Off to a very good start. I really enjoyed that.

    The 2 blokes annoy me for some reason, come across as cocky arrogant and entitled. Love the all female teams for different reasons. The younger team think out of the box and are good at bartering prices and things for free. The older all female team go at a more gentle pace and are just enjoying the travel. They are surely the prime candidates for the first elimination.

    As for the show I like the aspects of juggling working, traveling and budget to progress. Presentation and editing is nice very Apprentice esque. Will certainly be back again. The kind of show I’d like to binge watch.

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  3. Matt Clemson

    Waaay back, after I’d seen a couple of series of The Amazing Race, I remember thinking that I liked the core premise, but I was wondering if the show would work if they took out much of the railroading and gave the participants more free reign to get to each destination however they saw fit.

    This is pretty much what I imagined, and I really enjoyed it. I was a little nervous maybe 40 minutes in when we had a brief spell that seemed to be “Now Team 2 is in Place A, so they are travelling to Place B. And so we look at Team 3, who is in Place C, and have decided to also head to Place B”. I think, in hindsight, that was largely a recap so we knew where everyone was immediately prior to the final leg, but at the time it was a wee bit repetitive. But that’s just one short period, the beginning was great, the ending was great, and I’ll be looking forward to catching up next week.

    It also spurred a lot of discussion of strategic choices on this sofa. Should you take the work offers early, on the assumption that you might be able to earn a bit more from work jobs in more affluent nations than if you’re hard up in a poorer nation. How do you balance speed versus cost? If you’re stuck in a given location for a period of time, do you seek out alternative routes, work, or just rest to counter fatigue? I think the fact that it inspired a lot of discussion here was a factor in making it enjoyable.

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  4. Chris M. Dickson

    Intriguing and likeable, but I think I didn’t love it as much as the others.

    My initial thoughts were that £1,329 per person actually feels like quite a lot, especially in the context of how little other similar shows have given their contestants, but the teams seem to be spaffing through it at a rate of knots. (That said, the father and son won my support straight away by knowing off the bat that coach travel is the only reasonable permitted way to reach the continent, even though they got quite spendy quite quickly.) The part about teams working to make money on the way doesn’t feel like it rings true, but I’m prepared to believe I’m wrong on this one. If there were work opportunities prearranged then it feels all too safe and too much like a helping hand; if they genuinely found work themselves then it feels like it’s playing fast and loose with work permits and the like. The restriction that teams can’t use smartphones makes it a proper game, but if there’a an additional restriction that teams can’t – say – find a library or an Internet cafe and use public internet access either then that feels tough… and also arbitrary if they can find someone else and talk them into doing so.

    Hopefully it’ll feel more adventurous when people start travelling to less familiar locations and the language barrier becomes a bigger issue; it’ll be interesting to see just how many travel options there are or whether teams end up with less choice. At the moment the show feels a bit like it’s revelling in the privilege of the English language and also a backhanded compliment as to just how good (and, often, how cheap) plane travel really is. I’ll very probably keep watching, though, if only to gawk at the length of one of the business partner team’s necks.

    I wish there waere more World Wise available online than this short clip, though at least it shows David “Really Not A Kid Any More” Jensen zooming around in his cherry-picker.

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    1. Greg

      They explained at one point that they were given a list of pre arranged jobs at the start of the race which is where the boys got the farm job. However the job in the kitchen the girls got was not pre arranged.

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        1. Brig Bother Post author

          Yes I quite enjoyed that, had a horrible feeling they were going to go a bit Amazing Race with the editing, especially after the first five minutes, but it’s more considered with greater emphasis on the moment. This said my mind was wandering about three-quarters through although perked up again at the end. The reveal of the leg winners was a bit odd though, not sure what it added.

          I thought the budget tracker graphic as a percentage was a bit odd, wondered how it was going to work when people started earning money, although it works OK. Perhaps there should be a graphic with distance-to-go as a percentage as a sort of comparison, or perhaps that’d be too confusing.

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      1. Chris M. Dickson

        A certain degree of “the magic of television” is to be expected here, not least with the pre-arrangement of visas and travel documents. One might expect the contestants to be able to do a fair bit of very general preplanning of their route in advance, even if there can be some cunning way to get them to apply for many more countries’ travel permits than they would actually need to throw them off the scent or at least give them lots of options, though the wrinkle of not telling people in advance where the checkpoints will be is a good one. (I doubt you’d have figured Delphi as one of them, for instance.)

        That said, preorganising potential work opportunities doesn’t feel quite like cricket to me. I guess you can argue that the high-ish budget and opportunities to make more money means that the contestants are suitably well resourced that they can choose to spend money on relatively quick, relatively expensive solutions and there’s more of a race in working out when the right time and place to do so is, but that does feel a bit… arbitrary. If there’s play along value of “how would you cope if you had to do it?” then dealing with the rules and constraints does feel artificial, though much less so than, say, The Amazing Race.

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        1. David

          TAR contestants sign more visas than countries they go to to throw them off where they’re actually going, so it’s not new.

          Setting work opportunities up is fair to me- there’s a safety issue partly (especially as they go further along), plus I don’t know how many people would want a film crew hanging around their workplace without any notice. Also I suspect they gameplanned this in advance, figuring out how much extra money it would theoretically take, and set up opportunities to get close to that total (with some leeway for impromptu work and getting some transport they didn’t think of). Plus it gives them a little idea how long filming should take- you don’t want to waste several days of production time waiting for teams to find jobs so they can move on…

          Reply
  5. Brig Bother Post author

    I am quite digging this. Although I sort of hope there isn’t going to be a weekly elimination, I get that there needs to be *some* threat to keep them moving, but it’s a show about some people going on a journey whilst going on a journey and it gets that across quite well.

    Although ironically with John Hannah’s “have we forgotten how to travel?” spiel at the top of each episode, other than the Blue Mosque, they’ve not seemed to have done much sightseeing.

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    1. Matt Clemson

      There can’t be a weekly elimination because there simply aren’t enough couples. One every two legs makes sense, gives us a three-team final.

      Enjoying this too, it’s been put together with a good eye for an emerging narrative and some ironic cuts, and I’m somewhat amazed at how significant a difference knowing exactly what you need to do when you arrive at a bus depot ultimately made!

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    1. Matt Clemson

      It definitely seems to have had pretty consistently positive word-of-mouth. Glancing around the usual… more curmudgeonly parts of the internet, they still seem reasonably fond of it.

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      1. Matt Clemson

        Oh I should add that I saw an article in Broadcast about the filming process. I’d suggest being a bit wary about it – I do think it went into spoilery territory on occasion – but it’s an interesting read for after the series is done.

        https://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/bbc/race-across-the-world-bbc2/5137332.article

        One non-spoilery note is that they mention that part of their brief was to make the series feel like it wasn’t on rails – insert puns here – which is something about TAR that always rankled a bit.

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    2. Brandon

      Getting higher ratings than Top Gear is quite impressive, even if Top Gear is no longer the huge ratings success it once was

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  6. Steve

    Really enjoying it and those ratings I’d be surprised if isn’t renewed building on the top gear lead in

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    1. Greg

      1.89 (10.1%) last night according to a post of Digital Spy. Growth for the 3rd week in a row.

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      1. Greg

        That should have read 1.87 (10.1%)

        I am loving the fact that we have such varied approachs to racing and the fact the slowest route can quite often be the winning one.

        Had the team that narrowly caught the boat missed the boat it would have most likely resulted in a healthy lead.

        The girls were playing a very risky game giving up a day for free travel.

        Reply

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