Race Across the World
|Race Across the World|
|Directed by||Rob Fisher|
|Narrated by||John Hannah|
|Theme music composer||Michael Burns|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||15|
|Executive producers||Mark Saben|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company||Studio Lambert|
|Original network||BBC Two|
|Original release||3 March 2019 –|
|Race Across the World|
Race Across the World is a British television competition programme, in which teams of two race across an area of the world to be the fastest to reach their destination using any method of transport other than a plane. The programme is broadcast on BBC Two and narrated by John Hannah.
The first series, consisting of six episodes, was aired from 3 March to 7 April 2019. On 9 July 2019, BBC confirmed that a second and third series has been commissioned for BBC Two. It was also announced on 3 October 2019 that a celebrity spin-off series would be aired on BBC One, but the production has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second series consists of nine episodes, with the opening episode broadcast on 8 March 2020.
The programme follows pairs of competitors racing around the world to be the first to reach the final destination. In the first series, the race started from London and finished in Singapore. The competitors cannot fly but were each given a money belt containing an amount of money equivalent to a one-way plane ticket to their final destination, which they can use to travel by land or by sea. The money pays for all the cost of the travel including food and accommodation, but they may work to earn money along the way. The competitors may not have any mobile electronic devices or credit cards at the start of the race, but were given a world map, a GPS device to track their progress and for safety as well as finding the checkpoints, and a travel guide with local job adverts, in addition to the money. In every episode, the teams were given a checkpoint they had to reach. One team may be eliminated if they come last at a pre-determined checkpoint. At each checkpoint, the racers were given a 36-hour break. The first team to reach the final destination win a cash prize of £20,000.
Before the race, two assistant producers conducted a recce research trip to assess the feasibility of such a journey within the budget constraints. All likely bus and train journeys were assessed beforehand. Visas were applied for the countries along all possible routes before the race as well as any necessary vaccinations for these countries.
During the race, each team had two film crew members who travelled along with them. All decisions, however, were made by the racers and the crew cannot interfere with their choices. A director of photography travelled behind the teams for additional location filming. To ensure the safety of the racers, there may be local fixers and security advisers who observed the racers from a distance, and medical support vehicle also travelled an hour behind the team in some countries.
The programme was commissioned by David Brindley and Michael Jochnowitz for BBC 2.
|Episodes||Premiere||Finale||Start||End||Winners||Average UK |
|Series 1||6||3 March 2019||7 April 2019||London, United Kingdom||Singapore||Elaine & Tony||2,590,000|
|Series 2||9||8 March 2020||26 April 2020||Mexico City, Mexico||Ushuaia, Argentina||Emon & Jamiul||3,760,000|
Series 1 (2019)
The first series of Race Across the World consisting of six episodes first aired on BBC Two from 3 March to 7 April 2019. Five pairs of racers travelled from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London and finishing at the hotel Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The itinerary of the race covered countries in Europe and Asia with checkpoints in Greece, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, China and Cambodia. In the first series, the contestants were each given £1,329 for the whole race, a journey of 12,000 miles which was completed in 50 days.
The first series featured five pairs of competitors at the start of the race: Natalie and Shameema, Jinda and Bindu, Darron and Alex, Josh and Felix, and Sue and Clare. Jinda and Bindu withdrew due to family illness in the first episode, and were replaced by Elaine and Tony, while Sue and Clare were eliminated in the second episode. The winners were Elaine and Tony.
The series was the most successful debut for a factual entertainment show on BBC Two in over three years, and one of the most-watched shows of the year for the channel.
Series 2 (2020)
A second series began airing on 8 March 2020 with five teams setting off from Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City in a race to the most southerly city in the world, Ushuaia in Argentina, covering a distance of 25,000 km in 2 months, passing through 7 checkpoints in Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile. Each racer was given £1,453 for the whole trip, roughly £26 per day. Filming started in September 2019.
In this series, the no-fly rule was abandoned due to civil unrest in Ecuador which made land travel through the country unsafe - all the teams were flown from Colombia to Peru to continue the race. The 5 teams of racers were Dom & Lizzie, Jo & Sam, Jen & Rob, Shuntelle & Michael, and Emon and Jamiul. No one was eliminated this series but two teams decided to quit; Shuntelle & Michael left after losing half their money in leg 2 of the race, while Jo & Sam withdrew after they had run out of money in leg 7. The winners were Emon and Jamiul who beat Jen & Rob to the final checkpoint by seconds.
The number of episodes increased from six to nine this series; eight episodes on the race followed by a reunion special.
Race Across the World has received generally positive reviews mixed with some negative reviews. Michael Hogan of The Telegraph found the first series "fiendishly addictive", and thought that it "reaffirmed one's faith in human nature" where friendships are "formed across cultural divides", with the series ending on an act of kindness that was "apt" and "heartwarming". Jeff Robson of the i newspaper regarded the series "flawed but engaging", and that although the show lacked the "challenges of some extreme travelogues, nor the sense of peril", it "succeeded in recreating the combination of unexpected highlights, soul-destroying lows and crucial budget decisions which characterised old-school seat of the pants travel". Carol Midgley of The Times regarded the challenge of racing to be "quite tough" and "dramatic".
In the second series, Joel Golby of The Guardian judged it "an astounding piece of TV" that "captures all the vibrant highs and exhausted lows of travel in all of their raw glory", and one that made him "genuinely caring how this one ends and the impact it will have on the lives of those who lived it". Anita Singh of The Telegraph thought "the casting is one of the strengths of the series" and she "can't help but warm to these wacky racers". However, Chris Moss of the same paper was more negative; he found that the obstacles the contestants faced were "largely fictive" and the tension "fabricated", and thought the show used the "old idiot abroad trope", and the viewers were "asked not to marvel at faraway places but to engage with the participants". Equally negative was Barry Didcock of The Herald who considered the show's premise of travelling without flying "a frivolous exercise" and of questionable taste as the budget of racers would exceed that of a refugee at the Mexico-Guatemala border. In contrast, Shaun Kitchener wrote in Metro that the show "is the heartfelt light we all need in these dark times" as it was aired during the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that, with the "masterful combination of escapism (the scenery!), warmth (the contestants!), drama (the conflict!) and adrenaline (the actual race!), Race Across The World is a merciful piece of TV to keep us briefly distracted over the next few weeks".
In America, the show airs on Discovery + (Plus) since its debut on January 4, 2021.
In Hong Kong, Race Across the World aired on RTHK TV 31: the first series, a.k.a. Race to Singapore (鬥快去星洲), aired from 6 April 2020  while the second series, which aired from 5 October 2020, within the Let’s Explore hour with the sub-title translated as Race to South America (一齊闖天下:鬥快去南美).
Danish TV 2 produced the first international adaptation named Først til verdens ende (translation: "First to the end of the world") in Autumn 2019 with a route between Odense and Singapore. The series began airing on 31 March 2020.
- The Amazing Race
- Race Around the World (Australia)
- Race the World (China)
- Lost (UK 2001)
- Peking Express
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- Bryan, Scott (8 March 2020). "Theft, riots and 28-hour buses: the secrets of Race Across the World". The Guardian.
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- Henry, Grace (15 March 2020). "When is Race Across The World series 2 on? Everything you need to know". Radio Times.
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- Porter, Toby (16 March 2020). "Sydenham and Lewisham couple testing their relationship by racing the length of South America". London News Online.
- Williams, Isla (26 April 2020). "Race Across The World fans devastated after Jo and Sam drop out of race in show's final". Metro.
- "Race Across the World victors pledge winnings to help street children". BBC. 27 April 2020.
- Morris, Lauren (29 April 2020). "When is Race Across the World: Revealed on TV?". Radio Times.
- Hogan, Michael (7 April 2019). "Race Across the World, finale, review: tension, breakdowns, locusts for breakfast – and a heartwarming end". The Telegraph.
- Robson, Jeff (3 March 2019). "Race Across The World, BBC2, review: a flawed but engaging travelogue with a difference". iNews.
- Midgley, Carol (4 March 2019). "TV review: Race Across the World; Call the Midwife". The Times.
- Golby, Joel (21 March 2020). "Race Across the World: a competitive gap year you end up caring about". The Guardian.
- Singh, Anita (8 March 2020). "Race Across the World, review: I can't help but warm to these wacky racers". The Telegraph.
- Moss, Chris (16 March 2020). "What Race Across the World gets wrong about Latin America and modern travel". The Telegraph.
- Didcock, Barry. "Barry Didcock's TV review: Race Across The World, BBC Two, Sunday".
- Kitchener, Shaun (18 March 2020). "Race Across The World is the heartfelt light we all need in these dark times". Metro.
- "Airdate: Race Across the World". TV Tonight. 27 November 2019.
- "鬥快去星洲" [Race Across the World on RTHK TV 31]. RTHK. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
- "一齊闖天下" [Let’s Explore on RTHK TV 31]. RTHK. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- "10 danskere rejste Jorden rundt uden mobil og kreditkort: Her er, hvad de lærte - TV 2". livsstil.tv2.dk. 31 March 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2020.