Dummy runs and strict rules: The biggest production secrets behind Race Across The World
A producer said ‘the cast are genuinely scared and they should be’
Race Across The World is one of the most wild challenge shows on TV right now, and the production secrets behind it prove just how intense filming the series must be.
This season, the hopefuls have been tasked with travelling 16,000 kilometres across Canada in the hopes of winning £20k. They get a strict budget, barely any sleep, and are pretty much thrown into looking after themselves and getting to the end point.
Here’s a full rundown of the biggest production secrets and behind the scenes facts about Race Across The World. Do you want an early spoiler about the show? It’s definitely not made up. How we see it is exactly what happens, the cast aren’t helped out at all.
Producers test the routes before the show
Ok so let’s get the biggest of all production secrets out the way first: Producers for Race Across The World do the routes before the contestants do! The show sends crew members to check the routes are doable first, and they send information back before filming begins.
Line producer for the show, Maria Kennedy, told RadioTimes: “You get some really brave people out on the road for a couple of months [from the production team]. [They tell us], ‘Here are going to be the sticking points. This is quite tricky. This bit is amazing.'”
Production does it all on a budget just like the cast members will, so they truly experience if it is possible to complete and what the journey is like.
What is the Race Across The World budget?
The budget is different for each challenge – and is the price of airfare to the end destination. For the current Canada series, this means cast members were given £2,498.13 each in their pairs. If they begin to run out of money, couples are allowed to get jobs along the way to make some money.
The money can work out as being anything from around £25 per day – for all travel costs, food and accommodation. Those taking part are given their money in a lump sum before starting.
The cast are ‘genuinely scared’ by the risks of the trip, but the BBC can intervene if they get into real danger
Right now, we’re watching the cast members pitch up tents and get up close and personal with bears in Canada. And no, they don’t feel extra protection just because they’re on the telly, they are genuinely scared by nature and what could happen to them.
“[The bears] are not that scared of cameras,” line producer Maria Kennedy said. “They would have taken them out so yeah, the cast are genuinely scared and they should be. But they did have bear spray and obviously we would have intervened.”
Food is a constant concern for the cast
The cast have a strict budget to live by, and previous winner Emon Choudhury has said this meant food was a struggle a lot along the way, so much so he had to ask producers for extra food and water.
“I lost over a stone, a stone and a half and the same with my nephew, he lost quite a bit as well. The food was an issue,” he said. “You always think on these TV shows, you get a sandwich off-camera or water or a little snack here or there but no, it wasn’t like that!” The nephew and uncle duo ended up asking strangers for bits of food and water during their trip.
How does filming for the show actually work?
Ok, so one of the big production secrets we’re all desperate to know about Race Across The World is how filming actually works. Is there just one camera man following the teams? Do they hold them back?
There are apparently around six or seven people with each couple at all times, capturing every single part of what they’re doing. The camera crews have to try their best to carry all their kit, and keep up with the contestants, as they’re not allowed to slow them down in any way.
According to reports, those following the teams also includes a local fixer and a security adviser for each team, but they keep enough distance to make the trip feel authentic.
There’s a strict limit to what things the contestants are allowed to take with them
Race Across The World contenders have to follow strict rules, and that covers the things they’re allowed on their trip. They’re not allowed any technology that might help them, and we’ve seen cast members complain they don’t have phones to take pictures of the beautiful places they’re travelling through.
They are given a map, and aren’t allowed anything like credit cards or loose change they might already have.
In extreme circumstances, contestants can use a phone
Whilst they’re not allowed a phone to aid them in any way, the BBC has confirmed that if there is a huge emergency, or if something happens back home, cast members would be able to speak to a nominated person on the phone. However, “we really try to keep them in the bubble as much as possible,” a producer added.
The jobs the cast members get are completely real
You might question the little jobs cast members get to make money along the way, but they are completely real. BBC commissioner Michael Jochnowitz said: “We don’t create any job opportunities. We don’t go to any of those places and say, ‘For the purposes of the show, can you provide this kind of service?’
“Those are real jobs, real places, real money or accommodation and things like that so again, because they don’t have access to a phone or the internet, we basically just give them a guide of potential opportunities in the area.”
A regular sleeping pattern is a thing of the past
Sleep on the show is regulated in between checkpoints, and previous cast members have said they got used to having basically none, apart from when travel allowed.
Previous winner Emon said: “We had to learn to sleep whilst driving like on the buses. We had to learn because we did a lot of overnight buses to save on our accommodation, so our sleep was out of the window.”
Do the cast wash their clothes?
Wait, I’d never thought about this – they’re out there for weeks with very basic supplies, so do they wash their clothes? Previous contestants have said a lot of the time no, but when they get to hostels or checkpoints they can sometimes make use of any washing facilities included in accommodation.