Race Around the World
For each series, eight "racers" were selected from video auditions from the Australian general public. The only stipulation for the video auditions was a lead in of ten seconds of black. John Safran submitted his audition with ten seconds of yellow. The successful applicants undertook a brief course in documentary film-making, before deciding on an itinerary for their journey around the world. They were then given a digital video camera, and sent to their first destination.
Over the next 100 days, the racers were required to devise, arrange and film a series of ten four-minute documentary films, as well as a stand-by documentary and five "postcards". This gave them ten days to travel to their next destination, film the video, and send it back to the ABC in Sydney with detailed editing instructions.
The series was broadcast as a weekly half-hour program, with four films shown per episode. Each film was then judged by a panel of three media and film experts including Sarah Macdonald, Tony Squires and Sigrid Thornton, as well as being put to a popular viewer vote. Points were deducted for late submissions.
Racers in the first series (1997)
- Ben Davies from Sydney, New South Wales
- Bentley Dean from Sydney, New South Wales
- Scott Herford from Sydney, New South Wales
- Daniel Marsden from Brisbane, Queensland
- Olivia Rousset from Perth, Western Australia
- Claudia Rowe from Melbourne, Victoria
- John Safran from Melbourne, Victoria
- Kim Traill from Melbourne, Victoria
Olivia Rousset was the winner of the first series.
Series Producer Paige Livingston Series 1 Studio Director John Lander Associate Producer Diane Haddon Production Manager Barbara Rushton
Racers in the second series (1998)
- Cate Anderson from Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales
- Rachel Bannikoff from Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
- Tim Bryson from Adelaide, South Australia
- Sheona McKenna from Melbourne, Victoria
- David Shankey from Brisbane, Queensland
- John Thiris from Sydney, New South Wales
- Catherine Turner from Sydney, New South Wales
- Tony Wilson from Melbourne, Victoria
Tony Wilson was the winner of the second series.
Series Producer Jennifer Collins
After the Race
Although receiving fairly high ratings for its timeslot, Race Around the World was a considerable logistical and financial drain on the publicly funded ABC. In 2000, the series was scaled down into a local version restricted to the Australian continent, entitled Race Around Oz.
A youth-oriented program titled Race Around the Corner was produced by ABC Children's Unit with students (14–16 years of age) making low-budget local productions in the same style as Race Around the World.
Most of the racers from the series went on to pursue careers in media and film-making:
- Perhaps the biggest success story amongst the racers has been that of the controversial John Safran. Safran actually came last on the first series (won by Olivia Rousset), despite winning the popular vote. The reason for this was that Safran had been disqualified from one round after submitting a film in which he had covertly filmed priests giving confession in Rio de Janeiro.
- Olivia Rousset, Bentley Dean and Kim Traill have worked as reporters for the SBS program Dateline. Traill's book "Red Square Blues: A Beginner's Guide To The Decline And Fall of the Soviet Union" was published by Harper Collins in September 2009.
- Catherine Turner is a reporter with Al Jazeera.
- Bentley Dean was nominated for an Academy Award for Tanna.
- Scott Herford has produced three Australian independent feature films.
- Like John Safran, Tony Wilson went on to host the breakfast show on Melbourne radio station 3RRR, and has written a novel called Players (ISBN 1-920885-58-7).
- During the first series, the initial nine contestants was reduced to eight as young Melbourne contender Alex Musgrove was forced to withdraw due to an extensive toe surgery.
- Ben Davies is the creator and producer of the Network Ten observational documentary series Bondi Rescue.