Taxi to Norway? Not even a pop star’s budget will stretch to that: ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV

Celebrity Race Across The World


Norfolk And Suffolk: Country & Coast 


Four teams began a 6,200-mile journey from the Moroccan city of Marrakesh to Tromso in Celebrity Race Across The World (BBC1). But they first had to answer a tricky but vital question: where the hell is Tromso?

None of the contestants could place the Norwegian city at first, although somebody thought the spelling looked vaguely Scandinavian.

Celebrity Race, which was postponed after the recent Morocco earthquake, is a game show and double geography rolled into one, which is both a benefit and a flaw.

It means there’s plenty going on, but with four teams taking different routes it’s sometimes hard to keep track of who is where. But the photography is stunning: even a late-night bus station looked like a film set.

There’s always one annoying character on these shows, and All Saints star Mel Blatt is shaping up nicely for this prestigious position.

Celebrity Race Across The World sees four teams racing from the Morroccan city of Marrakesh to Tromso in Norway

All Saints star Mel Blatt (right, with mum Helene) was so unaccustomed to budget travel that, by her own admission, she takes a chauffeur-driven car to the shops

She is so unaccustomed to budget travel that — on her own admission — she takes a chauffeur-driven Mercedes to Sainsburys. Her horror at the thought of a bus was a treat to behold.

Luckily, she is travelling with her resourceful mother, Helene, who speaks French and Spanish and has served in the army.

Amazingly, she wasn’t Mel’s first choice. Perhaps this is because Helene isn’t impressed by Mel’s world: ‘Snooty people who have nothing to say except I’ve got a mention somewhere and I’ve got this car.’ Ouch! Thanks, Mum.

Still, they were first to the checkpoint hotel in Pinhao, Portugal. Perhaps it was thanks to those expensive taxis, which will soon eat up the £69 daily budget.

Formula 4 driver Billy Monger and sister Bonny were second, even though she admitted: ‘We have no skills whatever.’ And Billy walks on prosthetic legs after a 130mph crash in 2017. So if they’re in a hurry, poor Bonny is stuck with the bags.

TV weatherman Alex Beresford wants to win, but his dad, Noel, wants to chill and enjoy the journey. Could be trouble there.

Last in were McFly drummer Harry Judd and mother Emma. She’s delighted to be spending time with Harry, who left home early to start his music career. ‘It’s bloody marvellous,’ she said. I predict that Emma will be a big hit.

Bill Nighy served as narrator and guide for Channel 5’s Norfolk and Suffolk: County and Coast

Channel 5’s Norfolk and Suffolk: County and Coast featured colourful stories from people living across East Anglia

In a world where everybody is screaming for attention, Norfolk And Suffolk: Country & Coast (Ch5) was like a comforting mug of cocoa — with perhaps a squirt of cream if we’re feeling naughty.

Bill Nighy was our narrator and guide, although the rather exuberant script was more in Laurence Olivier’s line. Enunciate after me: ‘As dawn breaks across Norfolk and Suffolk, we journey to meet those who call this majestic landscape home’. That could almost be poetry.

The next thing we knew, we were paddling down the River Stour and talking to Fred from the Sudbury Canoe Club. Fred looked just a little self-conscious, which is a rare and wonderful thing in modern television.

Lighthouse keeper Patrick Tubby was the same, although it’s understandable in his case because he was dusting his lantern at the time. It’s almost impossible to look modern and sophisticated while dusting an 18th-century lighthouse.

And who knew that the Norfolk resort of Cromer is a hotspot for surfing, despite being on the chilly North Sea? ‘Ideal conditions for first-timers,’ said a surfing coach who teaches first-timers. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he.


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