Daily Mail - Daily Mail Weekend Magazine

OUR 15,000KM RACE (ON JUST £27 A DAY!)

This Race Across The World in the Far East is the toughest yet as the five teams realised no one could speak English

- Vicki Power Race Across The World, Wednesday, 9pm, BBC1.

With its unique mix of fierce competitio­n, ingenuity, jeopardy and bonding, Race Across The World has been one of the BBC’S biggest recent reality hits. Five pairs of contestant­s must race through a number of countries by any means other than air travel to reach the final destinatio­n first, with no access to phones or the internet, and a total budget equal to a one-way flight to that destinatio­n. The first two series were so popular on BBC2 that series three switched to BBC1, and last year saw a celebrity edition.

Now series four is here, and the culture shock for the five pairs of competitor­s who landed in northern Japan to take part was palpable. ‘Early on there was a realisatio­n of, “Oh no! This is going to be so much harder than we could ever have imagined,”’ says Betty, 25, who’s competing alongside her brother James, 21.

And that’s exactly what the producers intended when they set this series in countries where the contestant­s wouldn’t be able to speak the language or even read the road signs. ‘The different languages, the different customs – for example, in Japan it’s rude to eat while you walk down the street – are elements that will take the contributo­rs and viewers to a different place,’ says series producer Charlotte Jacobs.

The 50-day, 15,000km journey begins in the Japanese city of Sapporo and ends in Lombok, Indonesia, traversing six seas and eight countries in which English is rarely spoken. The budget is £1,390pp, or £27pp per day. Along the way there are seven checkpoint­s, and at each one the slowest team may be eliminated.

The series’ tough requiremen­ts give rise to squabbling and seatof-the-pants problem-solving – and some of the decisions are baffling. On the first leg, nearly all the contestant­s make a beeline south for Tokyo on their way to the checkpoint further south at Nara. But mother-and-daughter team Eugenie, 61, and Isabel, 25, decide to head west to a city called Niigata.

‘We’d spent a lot of money already and my panic was that Tokyo would be too expensive,’ reasons Isabel. ‘So I thought if we went a different way it would be cheaper. But I don’t think I looked closely at the map.’

Living within their means was a constant challenge for the contestant­s, and hunger was always a problem. Early on, Betty and James came a cropper at a restaurant in the tourist spot of Matsushima Bay. ‘We ordered these rice bowls that looked quite cheap,’ recalls James. ‘But they were much fancier than we expected. It should have worked out at £2.50 but ended up being £15, which was almost our entire food budget for the week.’

If teams blow their budget they can find work, although that eats into their schedule. In episode one pensioners Viv, 65, and Stephen, 61, work on a wasabi farm in exchange for a bed for the night while Betty and James clean rickshaws in downtown Tokyo.

Just travelling in developing countries is a challenge, says Charlotte Jacobs. ‘There are definitely some near disasters, but you’ll have to wait to see,’ she teases. ‘They’ve got the weather, border crossings, animals… there’s all sorts going on.’ Race Across The World not only forces the contestant­s to live by their wits, it also demonstrat­es how kind strangers can be. ‘We were well received wherever we went,’ says Eugenie. ‘We’re black, and some of them hadn’t seen people of colour before. We were like celebritie­s! My faith in people has been reinforced. They can have very little, but they would give you what they had.’


 ?? ?? Competitor­s Viv and Stephen, Betty and James, and Eugenie and Isabel
Competitor­s Viv and Stephen, Betty and James, and Eugenie and Isabel

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