Why Race Across the World is the best reality show

I’m hooked on Race Across the World: The contestants aren’t in it for 15 minutes of fame

It beats all the other reality shows hands down...

Why aren’t more people talking about Race Across the World on BBC One? I can’t be the only viewer totally hooked on the series, which is currently on its third run (no pun intended).

The show airs on Wednesday nights, and follows 10 couples as they attempt to ‘race across the world’ in a bid to reach the final destination before the other teams.

The travellers can choose any route they like – but no flights or phones are allowed. And that’s a LOT harder than it sounds!

Here’s why I think Race Across the World on BBC One is the best reality show on TV hands down…

The contestants at the starting line of Race Across the World on BBC One
The contestants at the starting line of Race Across the World on BBC One (Credit: BBC/Studio Lambert/Mackenzie Walker)

Why I think Race Across the World is the best reality TV show

For starters, Race Across the World is a brilliant but pretty simple idea. It combines lush travel documentary style-footage, with intense personal relationships.

I fall in love with the beautiful scenery every week, and succumb to being subtly ‘educated’ about different countries. This third series has been criticised because of its format change – this time, contestants are only travelling in Canada.

In series one, contestants started in London and had to travel to Singapore. Series two saw them trek from Mexico to Argentina. However, as a result of Covid, series 3 is perhaps less ambitious.

But that certainly doesn’t make it any easier for the travellers – who must navigate a country so vast and remote, some public transport only travels once a week.

And it’s not just the stunning locations that have me hooked… Of course, it’s all about the contestants and dynamics between them.

The contestants aren’t in it for 15 minutes of fame

In 2023, the contestants include tetchy father and daughter Kevin and Claudia, who have not resolved issues from their past. Claudia resents her dad, a former publican, for neglecting her during her childhood. These issues must be resolved during their dash across Canada – often in tense, bitter arguments.

Meanwhile, the family dynamics within Ladi and Monique’s father and child relationship are very different. He is her rock, but she is keen to prove her own worth as an adult during the trip. Recent scenes showed Monique break down as she told her dad how much she respected him…

Cathie and Tricia are most definitely best friend goals. They are supportive, caring and make an amazing team. Tricia has sight loss and has much to prove before she loses her sight forever.

Brothers Marc and Michael – the first to leave the show after being last during the elimination round – came away with a better relationship after years of estrangement. And husband and wife team Mobeen and Zainib want to feel young again.

The dynamic between the families is compelling, and sometimes difficult to watch – it’s like prying on a family feud, or conversations meant to stay private. But we can all relate.

These are not your typical reality contestants. They are intelligent, curious about the world, and not in it for their 15 minutes of fame… Far from being vacuous Love Island or Big Brother stars, they care more about the planet than their appearance. Which is just as well, as they have to slum it most of the time!

Monique and Ladi on Race Across the World
Daughter and father Monique and Ladi on Race Across the World (Credit: BBC One)

What is the prize on Race Across the World?

The winners of the race receive £20,000. But, in my opinion, everyone is a winner, having completed a life-changing challenge. Yes, the money would be nice, sure, but the contestants aren’t in it for the cash.

Winners of Love Island will spend their money on designer clothes and trainers, but the previous two winners of Race Across the World have quietly disappeared from the spotlight and have largely done wholesome things with their prize money.

Series one winners Tony and Elaine, retired PE teachers, spent the prize fund on an electric bike each, splitting the rest between family members and charities.

Uncle and nephew Emon and Jamiul were crowned winners of series two of the show.  They announced they’d be donating at least half of the £20k prize fund to charity, after witnessing the terrible living conditions children were enduring in South America.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk at the time, Jamiul said: “We decided in Sao Paolo when we came across the street kids we were going to donate half the money to the children of South America. The experience in itself taught us so much and you can’t put a figure on the experience that we had.

“The money will just go such a long way to help people in less fortunate situations.”

The duo also donated at least £5,000 towards their family-run orphanage in Bangladesh.

Why you should watch it

Race Across the World shows the best of humanity – and sometimes the worst. Contestants must rely on the kindness of strangers, and it’s a rewarding, wholesome watch. If it doesn’t cheer your soul, perhaps you should stick to the backstabbing world of The Traitors.

You’ll have your favourites (Monique and Ladi are mine, followed closely by Cathie and Tricia), and your least preferred. You’ll be left baffled by some of the decisions made, and marvelling at others. But you WILL be rooting for them.

And the clear winners? The amazing people of Canada, who (largely) agree to help the contestants when there’s nothing in it for them. It will warm your soul. And if it doesn’t, perhaps you should check your pulse…

Read more: Loose Women favourite Coleen nolan ‘secretly living with reality TV winner for a year

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Race Across the World continues on Wednesdays on BBC One at 9pm.

What do you think of Race Across the World on BBC One? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor