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Narrator: Mat Fraser


Windfall Films for Channel 4, 1 to 31 October 2001 (15 episodes in 1 series)


Good, we like simple shows. Simple things, like eating and Tetris, tend to be easy to write and enthuse about and usually have depth to them. Bonus points for Windfall Films then for summing up the entire show's premise Star Wars-style in the opening sequence: "Three teams abandoned somewhere on the planet in a race to get back home".

Six people (and three cameramen) are blindfolded and taken on a journey which will end in some remote and strange area of the world (obscure Russian islands, Sahara Desert, the Lost World of Venezuela, Milton Keynes etc.) Once there, the production team pair off the contestants, give each one a cameraman and about $200 of cash each and bags with survival kit and three days' supplies. The execs then fly back to their cushy des res-es back in England whilst our intrepid adventurers have to rough it all the way back to London without knowing where they are. The first team to get back to London wins £5,000 and the chance to do it all over again if they want to.

Like the idea of the show, the production values are simple but effective. The graphics are limited to showing time and date, information on the contestants at the beginning of the show and occasional glimpses of a computer-generated globe showing the area and the routes the three teams are taking. Narration is limited to Big Brother style matter-of-factness, filling in the story where there is need for elision. Top marks for the inventive cheesy-spy theme which cleverly gets remixed to suit the mood of the situation shown, particularly the comedy accordion-esque one for particularly French/comedy/lazy bits. If you've ever played the seminal Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 you'll have encountered this before.

Each 'drop' takes up three evenings of television time at half an hour a piece. The first episode has the teams trying to work out where they are and making their way towards civilisation. Episode two is getting into a better position whilst episode three concentrates mainly on the race to London, by this point our teams won't have much money left (if any). What this gives us is a peculiar but effective combination of game show and travelogue. Within the first two episodes we get a good indication of what our contestants are like under the pressure of not knowing where they are, having no idea if they can speak the language, having little money etc. The third episode takes a rather different tack, concentrating on our contestants trying to raise enough money/blag for the final push home and the race.

It had its fair share of classic moments like the one everyone will remember, the stressed out Mancunian woman (Mel) shouting at a Russian who had been stirring up trouble around them. Or what about the US show where the producers sent the contestants on a wild goose chase for a measly $1? It seems a shame that the show seems to suffer from the law of diminishing returns. The first one was really good, the second one was also good but slightly less compelling and we find ourselves being less compelled to watch people being dropped off in empty fields with each passing week and - judging by the fact that it was moved to a later timeslot during the run - we're not the only ones.

What we have here then is a great show that deserved to be an occasional series (i.e. one series of three episodes every couple of weeks or months) rather than a weekly 'thing'. There was no reason it couldn't given that it needed a budget of around £4.27 to make. A bit like the Blair Witch version of Wanted if you want (yes please!).

Theme music

Daniel Pemberton


An official spin-off book, written by Nikki Arend, diarised the five journeys.


This programme indirectly inspired the long-running US drama of the same name. Our game show was sold to the US, and though it lasted about five minutes there, ABC's head of entertainment saw the programme and liked the title. Some years later, he replacing the original working title for a show about people trapped on an island. "Nowhere" turned out to be a success under the title "Lost".


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