Race Across the World

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Race Across the World
GenreReality competition
Directed byRob Fisher
Narrated byJohn Hannah
Theme music composerMichael Burns
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series3 (regular)
1 (celebrity)
No. of episodes24 (regular)
6 (celebrity)
Executive producersMark Saben
Tim Harcourt
Stephen Lambert
ProducersBrent Gundesen
Zoe Hines
Georgina Kiedrowski
Eddie Lewis
Alex Reynolds
EditorStephen Day
Running time60 minutes
Production companyStudio Lambert
Original release
NetworkBBC Two (2019–2020)
BBC One (2023–)
Release3 March 2019 (2019-03-03) –

Race Across the World is a British television competition programme, in which teams of two race across an area of the world to become the fastest to reach a destination using any means of transportation other than air travel.[1] The programme was broadcast on BBC Two for the first two series, but due to better than expected viewership moved to BBC One for the third series. It has been narrated by John Hannah since first airing in 2019.[2]

The first series, consisting of six episodes, aired from 3 March to 7 April 2019. On 9 July 2019, the BBC confirmed that a second and third series had been commissioned.[3] The second series consisted of nine episodes, with the opening episode broadcast on 8 March 2020.[4] In September 2022, the BBC announced the third series, which is set wholly within Canada and a move to BBC One.[5][6]

In an announcement on 3 October 2019, it was revealed that a celebrity spin-off series was in the works,[7] but production was subsequently delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[8] The line up and route for the celebrity edition was confirmed in a BBC press release on 27 July 2023.[9]


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 are each given an amount of money equivalent to the price of a one-way plane ticket to the final destination, which they can use to travel by land or by sea. The funds can be used to pay for the cost of any travel including food and accommodation, but teams may also work to earn more money along the way. The competitors are not allowed any mobile electronic devices or credit cards at the start of the race, but are 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 are given a checkpoint they have to reach. One team may be eliminated if they come last at a pre-determined checkpoint. At each checkpoint, the racers are given a 36-hour break. The first team to reach the final destination is awarded the cash prize of £20,000.[2]


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 required for entry to these countries.[2]

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 a medical support vehicle also travelled an hour behind the teams in some countries.[10][11]

The programme was commissioned by David Brindley and Michael Jochnowitz for BBC Two.[2]

Series overview[edit]


Series Episodes Channel Premiere Finale Start End Winners Average UK
1 6 BBC Two 3 March 2019 (2019-03-03) 7 April 2019 (2019-04-07) London, United Kingdom Marina Bay, Singapore Elaine & Tony 2.59
2 9 8 March 2020 (2020-03-08) 26 April 2020 (2020-04-26) Mexico City, Mexico Ushuaia, Argentina Emon & Jamiul 3.76
3 9 BBC One 22 March 2023 (2023-03-22) 10 May 2023 (2023-05-10) Vancouver, British Columbia St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador Tricia & Cathie 4.59

Series 1 (2019)[edit]

Series 1 start and end points

The first series of Race Across the World consisting of six episodes first aired on BBC Two from 3 March to 7 April 2019.[1] Five pairs of racers travelled from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London and finished at the Marina Bay Sands hotel 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.[10]

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.[12] Jinda and Bindu withdrew due to family illness in the first episode, and were replaced by Tony and Elaine, while Sue and Clare were eliminated in the second episode. The winners were Tony and Elaine.[13]

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.[14]

Series 2 (2020)[edit]

Series 2 start and end points
Chapultepec Castle (Mexico City)
Ushuaia (Argentina)

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, Brazil, and Argentina.[4] Each team was given £1,453 for the entire trip, equating to roughly £26 per day.[15] 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 in this series but two teams decided to quit; Shuntelle & Michael left after losing half of their money in leg 2 of the race,[16] while Jo & Sam withdrew after they had run out of money in leg 7.[17] The winners were Emon and Jamiul who beat Jen & Rob to the final checkpoint by seconds.[18]

The number of episodes increased from six to nine this series; eight episodes on the race followed by a reunion special.[19]

Series 3 (2023)[edit]

Series 3 start and end points
Stanley Park (Vancouver)
St John's (Newfoundland)

On 28 September 2022, the BBC announced that a third series of Race Across the World would enter production by the end of the year, which will be set wholly within Canada with a route from Vancouver, British Columbia to St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. The programme will also move from BBC Two to BBC One.[5][6][20]

In a subsequent press release dated 15 March 2023, the BBC revealed the five pairs of competitors as Cathie and Tricia, Claudia and Kevin, Ladi and Monique, Marc and Michael, and Mobeen and Zainib.[21] In a move from its previous Sunday evening broadcast to a midweek timeslot, the air date for the first episode of the third series was confirmed as 22 March 2023. Once again the series comprises nine episodes: eight episodes on the race followed by a reunion special.[22]


Series Episodes Channel Premiere Finale Start End Winners Average UK
1 6 BBC One 20 September 2023 (2023-09-20) 25 October 2023 (2023-10-25) Marrakesh, Morocco Tromsø, Norway Alex & Noel

Series 1 (2023)[edit]

Celebrity Series 1 start and end points
Marrakesh (Morocco)
Tromsø (Norway)

On 27 July 2023, the BBC announced that the delayed celebrity edition of Race Across the World would air later that same year and revealed a route spanning 24 countries and over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) starting in Marrakesh, Morocco and finishing in Tromsø, Norway.[9]

In the same press release the BBC announced that this series would consist of 6 episodes and revealed the four pairs of competitors as weather presenter Alex Beresford and his father, Noel; former All Saints singer Melanie Blatt and her mother, Helene; McFly drummer Harry Judd and his mother, Emma and former British F4 Racing Driver Billy Monger and his sister, Bonny.


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".[23] Jeff Robson of the i newspaper regarded the series as "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".[24] Carol Midgley of The Times regarded the challenge of racing to be "quite tough" and "dramatic".[25]

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".[26] 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",[27] 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".[28] 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.[29] In contrast, Shaun Kitchener wrote in the 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".[30]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The first series of Race Across the World won the 2020 BAFTA TV Award in the Best Reality and Constructed Factual category.[31] The second series was also nominated.

International broadcast[edit]

The programme aired in Australia on the Nine Network in December 2019.[32] In the United States, the series became available on Discovery+ at launch in January 2021.[33]

In Hong Kong, the first series aired on RTHK TV 31 as Race to Singapore (鬥快去星洲) from 6 April 2020,[34] while the second series, 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).[35]

International versions[edit]

Color key
  •   Currently airing
  •   Upcoming version or season
  •   Unknown
  •   No longer airing/Cancelled
Country Local name Network Narrator/Presenter Winners Originally aired
Denmark Først til verdens ende TV 2 None

Series 1 (2020): Nicolaj Halberg & Stephanie Schwartzbach
Series 2 (2022): Nikolaj Saabye & Jeppe Saabye
Series 3 (2023): Heidi Rasmussen & Susie Rasmussen
Series 4 (2024): Upcoming series

31 March 2020 – present
Finland Race Across the World Suomi MTV3 Ernest Lawson Series 1 (2024): Upcoming series Spring 2024
Netherlands Race Across the World RTL 4 Martijn Krabbé Series 1 (2023): Eva Cleven [nl] & Hugo Kennis [nl] 15 March 2023 – present
United Kingdom
Race Across the World BBC Two (2019–2020)
BBC One (2023–present)
John Hannah

Series 1 (2019): Elaine Teasdale & Tony Teasdale
Series 2 (2020): Emon Choudhury & Jamiul Choudhury
Series 3 (2023): Tricia Sail & Cathie Rowe
Series 4 (2024): Upcoming series

3 March 2019 – present
Celebrity Race Across the World BBC One

Series 1 (2023): Alex Beresford & Noel Beresford
Series 2 (2024): Upcoming series

20 September 2023 – present

Danish version[edit]

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.[36]

In April 2021, TV2 and production company Strong began casting for a second season with an expected filming period from 10 October until the end of November 2021.[37] The season premiered on 11 April 2022[38] and saw contestants travelling in a circle around Europe to arrive back in Denmark. During the production, two participants tested positive for COVID-19, causing the competition to come to a halt for 11 days and participants being transported to the next checkpoint, before continuing.[39]

Series Episodes Premiere Finale Start End Winners DK viewers
1 8 31 March 2020 19 May 2020 Odense, Denmark Singapore Nicolaj Halberg & Stephanie Schwartzbach 678,000
2 8 11 April 2022 30 May 2022 Esbjerg, Denmark Copenhagen, Denmark Nikolaj Saabye & Jeppe Saabye TBC
3 TBA 13 March 2023 14 May 2023 New York, USA Buenos Aires, Argentina Heidi Rasmussen & Susie Rasmussen TBA

On 23 May 2022, a third season was announced with casting starting the same day.[40] The season premiered on 11 March 2023 and shows contestants travelling from New York City in USA to Buenos Aires in Argentina.[41]

Finnish version[edit]

In November 2023, it was announced, that Finnish network MTV3 would air their local version named Race Across the World Suomi (translation: "Race Across the World Finland") in spring of 2024 hosted by Ernest Lawson. The race will start in Morocco, Northern Africa and will see contestants travelling through Europe and finishing in Finland.[42][43]

Series Episodes Premiere Finale Start End Winners FIN viewers
1 9 16 March 2024 Marrakesh, Morocco Finland TBA TBA

Other versions[edit]

In August 2021, it was revealed that Germany's RTL Zwei was preparing an adaptation of the format for the German audience.[44]

A Dutch version of the show was filmed in Latin America. Presented by Martijn Krabbé, it began airing on 15 March 2023.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Maxted, Anna (28 February 2019). "Race Across the World: Could you travel by land to Singapore — with just £25 a day?". The Times.
  2. ^ a b c d "Race Across The World, BBC2". Broadcast. 1 March 2019.
  3. ^ "BBC announces new factual entertainment commissions - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b "BBC One - Race Across the World, Series 2, Episode 1". BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2023.
  5. ^ a b Goldbart, Max (28 September 2022). "BBC Takes On Competition With Major Factual Slate Including Louis Theroux, Simon Schama, Virgil Abloh, Dinosaur Graveyard Shows & Season Three Of 'Race Across The World'". Deadline. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Race Across the World returning for season 3 after COVID hiatus". Radio Times. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  7. ^ "BBC - BBC One takes celebrities on a Race Across The World - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  8. ^ Miller, Adam (12 March 2020). "Coronavirus: Celebrity Race Across The World shelved over outbreak of Covid-19". Metro.
  9. ^ a b "BBC One's Celebrity Race Across The World line up revealed and it's a family affair". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
  10. ^ a b Turner, Lauren (6 April 2019). "Race Across the World: How the BBC series was made". BBC News.
  11. ^ Bryan, Scott (8 March 2020). "Theft, riots and 28-hour buses: the secrets of Race Across the World". The Guardian.
  12. ^ Rosseinsky, Katie (3 March 2019). "Race Across The World: is the BBC's new show the ultimate hitch-hiking challenge?". Evening Standard.
  13. ^ "Race Across The World 2019 winners revealed". BBC. 7 April 2019.
  14. ^ Henry, Grace (15 March 2020). "When is Race Across The World series 2 on? Everything you need to know". Radio Times.
  15. ^ Henry, Grace (5 March 2020). "When is Race Across The World series 2 on? Everything you need to know". Radio Times.
  16. ^ Porter, Toby (16 March 2020). "Sydenham and Lewisham couple testing their relationship by racing the length of South America". London News Online.
  17. ^ Williams, Isla (26 April 2020). "Race Across The World fans devastated after Jo and Sam drop out of race in show's final". Metro.
  18. ^ "Race Across the World victors pledge winnings to help street children". BBC. 27 April 2020.
  19. ^ Morris, Lauren (29 April 2020). "When is Race Across the World: Revealed on TV?". Radio Times.
  20. ^ "BBC Two - Race Across the World, Trailer: Race Across the World (series 3)". BBC. March 2023. Retrieved 1 March 2023.
  21. ^ "Race Across The World 2023 teams share their strategies for victory in Canada and reveal what they've really packed for the trip". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 20 March 2023.
  22. ^ "BBC One - Race Across the World, Series 3, Episode 1". BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2023.
  23. ^ Hogan, Michael (7 April 2019). "Race Across the World, finale, review: tension, breakdowns, locusts for breakfast – and a heartwarming end". The Telegraph.
  24. ^ Robson, Jeff (3 March 2019). "Race Across The World, BBC2, review: a flawed but engaging travelogue with a difference". iNews.
  25. ^ Midgley, Carol (4 March 2019). "TV review: Race Across the World; Call the Midwife". The Times.
  26. ^ Golby, Joel (21 March 2020). "Race Across the World: a competitive gap year you end up caring about". The Guardian.
  27. ^ Singh, Anita (8 March 2020). "Race Across the World, review: I can't help but warm to these wacky racers". The Telegraph.
  28. ^ Moss, Chris (16 March 2020). "What Race Across the World gets wrong about Latin America and modern travel". The Telegraph.
  29. ^ Didcock, Barry. "Barry Didcock's TV review: Race Across The World, BBC Two, Sunday".
  30. ^ Kitchener, Shaun (18 March 2020). "Race Across The World is the heartfelt light we all need in these dark times". Metro.
  31. ^ "Reality and Constructed Factual -Race Across the World". 4 June 2020.
  32. ^ "Airdate: Race Across the World". TV Tonight. 27 November 2019.
  33. ^ "Discovery+: Here's Every Original Series Available on Discovery's New Streaming Service at Launch". TheWrap. 4 January 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  34. ^ "鬥快去星洲" [Race Across the World on RTHK TV 31]. RTHK. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  35. ^ "一齊闖天下" [Let’s Explore on RTHK TV 31]. RTHK. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  36. ^ "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.
  37. ^ "Kan I komme først til verdens ende? - TV 2". tv.tv2.dk (in Danish). 6 April 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  38. ^ "Først til verdens ende 2 - TV 2". omtv2.tv2.dk. 4 April 2022. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  39. ^ "Tv-program måtte afbrydes i 11 dage: - Hele programmets eksistens var på spil - TV 2". livsstil.tv2.dk (in Danish). 22 May 2022. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  40. ^ "Kan I komme først til verdens ende?". 29 April 2022.
  41. ^ Lynge, Rikke (13 March 2023). "'Først til verdens ende' er tilbage: Her er alle deltagerne". www.herognu.dk (in Danish). Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  42. ^ "Tältä näyttää MTV:n kanavien kevät 2024 – Levyraati tekee paluun". MTV Uutiset (in Finnish).
  43. ^ "Tässä ovat uuden Race Across the World Suomi -sarjan kilpailijat". Ilta-sanomat (in Finnish).
  44. ^ Krei, Alexander (19 August 2021). "RTLzwei sichert sich BBC-Erfolg "Race Across The World"". DWDL.de. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  45. ^ "Race Across The World". Retrieved 18 March 2023 – via www.rtl.nl.

External links[edit]