We have a lot of Canuck and Brit happy mutants, so it occurs to me we could bond over series 3 of BBC’s Race Across The World. Yes it’s formulaic reality TV, but it’s charming British people lost in Canada! What more do you need?
How to watch, for non-Brits:
- Get a VPN and set it to the UK
- Create an account for BBC iPlayer. It will ask if you gave a TV license. Say yes.
- It will ask for an address to verify your TV license. It must be a valid UK postal address, and the site will check it. Enter the address of BBC HQ :
Peel Wing, Portland Pl, London W1A 1AA
- Sign in and go here:
BBC iPlayer - Race Across the World - Series 3: Episode 1
My thoughts on the show from a Canadian perspective, and particularly a western Canadian one. I grew up in all the places they go in the first few episodes, so it was certainly interesting.
Overall I think they do a nice job of portraying Canada. The photography is beautiful and they place heavy emphasis on the scenery, the wildlife, the vast open spaces, and the immensely generous people. All true and all things we’re proud of.
A few factual errors crept in here and there. They describe Canada as an expensive place to live, which just isn’t true. Some things like cell phones are more expensive here, but most things like food, gas, taxes, rent, etc are much lower than certainly the UK is. They try to make a dramatic point in the first episode about a loaf of bread costing double in Canada or some such, but it just isn’t true. Silly nonsense, that. They also bafflingly refer to the glorified mining camp of Merrit as a “tourist hot spot”.
It’s also always funny seeing Europeans dumbfounded at the lack of public transportation. While it’s true we have not done great with that, I don’t think they appreciate the financial impracticality of it. You can’t run trains everywhere when you have 1000km between major cities and a population smaller than California. That said, the system used to be better- BC (where they begin) for example, used to have buses running between all the little towns and those have faded away over the past 50 years. There has been an effort to bring them back and progress is being made. Also a lot of the issues they have are simply because they’re in a hurry. There are buses, ferries, and yes even some trains between these places they’re going. However they’re often once a day because it makes no sense to run them more often. You have to plan for that, but of course reality TV races aren’t about planning.
I enjoy the people they chose quite a bit. Unlike American reality shows where they always seem to cast the biggest dicks they can find because “drama”, these feel like real people with real challenges. A couple of them are coping with social anxiety, for example, which I’m sure we can all relate to in a travel setting. One has a severe fear of heights which I certainly felt for her in the mountains. And so on.
I’d like to hear from any Brits who’ve watched the show and how it reads from your perspective. It’s weird seeing one’s own home portrayed as an exotic foreign land, and occasionally falsely portrayed as a backward uncivilized place.
In any case, I hope it inspires some folks to come visit. We’d love to have you, and yes we really will drive you around. Also please stay because we need immigrants.