Television presenter Alex Beresford and his father, Noel; singer Mel Blatt and her mother, Helene; McFly drummer Harry Judd and his mother, Emma; and British Racing Driver and pundit Billy Monger and his sister, Bonny, are gearing up for their adventure in the eagerly awaited Celebrity Race Across the World.
Commencing in Marrakech, Morocco, the north-westernmost country in Africa, and concluding in Tromsø, Norway, known as the Arctic capital, this epic journey will encompass 24 countries and cover a distance of over 10,000 km. The route will take the pairs through every conceivable landscape and culture this part of the world has to offer: from the bustling North African metropolis of Marrakech, through the coastal ports and beaches of the Mediterranean, to the unparalleled historic and cosmopolitan cities, the formidable Alps, uncharted Central Europe, the enchanting Baltic States, and the snow-covered expanses of Scandinavia.
In this six-episode celebrity edition of the beloved series, the four celebrities and their racing partners will race towards a finish line that is thousands of miles away – without resorting to air travel or any conveniences of modern-day life. Stripped of all modern amenities and luxuries, they will have to rely on their skills, resourcefulness, inventiveness, and hard graft to succeed. Deprived of credit cards, smartphones, or internet access, armed only with the cash equivalent of an airfare to their final destination, they will need to earn additional funds along the way and also seek the kindness of strangers to aid their progress. This extraordinary journey promises to provide a distinctive perspective on the celebrities and their bonds with their fellow travellers.
Celebrity Race Across The World, a six-episode series for BBC One and BBC iPlayer, will premiere later this year. Lucy Shepherd, Tim Harcourt, Jo Harcourt-Smith, and Mark Saben serve as the Executive Producers for Studio Lambert. Lucy Curtis is the Series Producer, Maria Kennedy is the Line Producer, and Kezia Walker is the Production Executive. The series was commissioned by Catherine Catton, Head of Commissioning, Factual Entertainment and Events, with Michael Jochnowitz as the Commissioning Editor. Its distribution is handled by All3Media International.
Harry Judd and his mother, Emma, shared their thoughts with Bradford Zone about their participation in the series.
Why did you want to take part in Celebrity Race Across The World?
Harry: Well, it feels like a totally unique opportunity, particularly at our age and our stages of life. I’ve got three young children, so you can imagine me trying to pitch to my wife that I’m going off travelling for a month! I never travelled when I was younger, I travelled with the band, but I never properly did backpacking, and I always wanted to, and I think the same applies for my mum, she always wanted to but started a family when she was 22.
Emma: Yeah, I was young and one thing I think that I’ve missed in my life, not that I regret it, was actually backpacking and going off on an adventure like this. So, when Harry had the opportunity come along, I thought what could be better than going on an adventure with my son!
Would you say that you’re both quite adventurous people?
Emma: I think I am.
Harry: You are, but you haven’t been able to express that adventurousness.
Emma: No, because I’ve been very lucky and I had a family young, and various things have happened along the way. So, I’ve been caring for people or family or working, so I haven’t been able to do it, but now I’m not! And I’ve never minded, but I just thought, wow, why wouldn’t I want to do it! And the other thing for me, is that Harry left home at 17, totally unexpected and it totally blew me away. So, we just haven’t had time together on our own. He’s got his lovely family, lovely wife, so it’s always with other people, so precious time together with my son – what’s not to like?
Do you think you’re going to be good travelling companions together?
Harry: It’s hard to tell really. I think we’ve predicted that there’s potential that we might get on each other’s nerves, but the truth is, I’m a bit more like my dad, and I have witnessed them bickering a bit in the past so I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a little bicker! So, I think I’ve got to try and be aware that I do things my way, but mum would do things her way and we’ve got to meet in the middle somewhere. We definitely think differently, I’m a bit more intense I’d say.
Emma: I think with our strengths and weaknesses we make a good team.
Harry: I’m hoping so!
What skills do you think you each bring to the experience?
Emma: Well, I’m scatty… I like to think I’m very much, ‘let’s do it! Come on and let’s go!’
Harry: Positive energy and you just throw yourself into it.
Emma: That’s it, positive energy! I’m no good with directions, crap with money, that’s why I very much rely on him for those things. So, I think I can bring the caring side and also the ‘let’s get on with it’. I’m also thinking, because of being in nursing, I’ve been through all sorts, especially when I was younger and I was working night duties and doing very long hours, maybe I’m prepared for it? I don’t know.
Harry: I think mum will be much better getting on with it, I don’t think I’ll be as good as dealing with the discomfort or tiredness or things like that. I’ll definitely complain more…
What kind of traveller are you? Are you happy backpacking and roughing it or do you like your creature comforts and five-star hotels?
Harry: Something about this excites me, I’m hoping to see things and experience different cultures and I think we have to do it this way. I think it’s great, because I think any other time, even if I was travelling, I would probably travel in luxury, we’ll go here and stay in a nice hotel and then we’ll travel there and get a tour guide to take us.
Emma: His dad is just the same, so I’m really pleased to get out and get in there.
Harry: But we don’t want to predict too much because I could be moaning away in two weeks’ time!
Emma: And I’m selling myself as such a superhero and then I’ll collapse at the first hurdle!
How do you feel about travelling without a mobile phone or credit cards?
Harry: There’s something quite freeing about it and just not having to worry about it. We’re so attached to our phones – I’m awful. So, I think I I’m quite looking forward to just having to read a book and having to keep my head up. But at the same time, a phone is a very nice distraction, there are nice things to look at in your phone, and I’m going to miss speaking to my wife every day, that’s going to be a struggle.
Emma: I feel relieved that I don’t have to communicate! What a relief! Because my husband, for instance, last night he asked me ‘how many packs of toothpaste have you got,’ he loves a bit of detail! I love him dearly, but if I ring him he goes, ‘how do I do the cooking and what am I doing?’ and I just think ‘oh go away!’
Harry: Yes, like me, he wants detail. Even though he’s going to make the decision he wants to tell you about everything, he wants to know what you’re doing and why have you done it like that!
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve brought with you?
Harry: My drumsticks would probably be quite unusual to some people, and mum’s going to teach me some tapestry.
Emma: I’ve brought a kit for him especially, which is a Christmas stocking, because I’ve done tapestries for all the children – well I’m finishing Rocky’s actually on this trip – Christmas stockings which they hang up on the fireplace. Stitching is a very good thing for me to do, because I’m quite busy myself and I don’t really like watching telly and things so I’m doing the stitching. And I brought a kit for Harry so he can do one for his wife.
Harry: My family have also given me something each.
Emma: What have they given you?
Harry: Well, I don’t know yet, they’re in letters. I’ve got two letters from Lola, one letter from Kit, two letters from Izzy and I think a pack of photos that we can enjoy.
Emma: I’ve got keyrings, bits and pieces like that to remind me of each person, little memories.
Harry: One’s a keyring from the car garage dad goes to!
Emma: Yes, he’s not a great romantic either, so I said there’s reminders of our frequent trips to the garage!
What do the rest of the family make of you two doing this trip together?
Harry: Well, my wife is very supportive and amazing considering we’ve got three children and the fact that she struggles with anxiety, particularly separation anxiety, which she’s been pretty open about. So, she slightly thinks that it’s not really me that’s going through the challenge, it’s her – they should be making a TV show on how she can cope at home! So, she’s been amazing, because her instinct is to ask me not to go, but she’s really fighting her fear to allow me to go through this experience. So, it’s mixed emotions. But ultimately, we felt it was the right thing to do. And my children think it’s great that daddy is racing across the world. I think my youngest, the one-year-old, I’m very proud to say he very much loves his daddy, so I’m very sad about leaving him because I don’t want him to be thinking, where’s that man gone? And, anyway [to Emma], you’ve got your husband and your other two children!
Emma: Yes, I’ve got a daughter and another son and they’re very supportive, and very pleased. But my daughter is sad because her Thursday childcare is gone! And my son is very jealous of us! But I think it is a good experience to be away from each other, having a break!
Have you watched previous series of Race Across the World? And will you be taking any tips from them?
Harry: I was never very good at doing homework…
Emma: I’ve been doing a bit! But I can’t remember of course. But I’ve got the gist of it, I think. What it is, is you’ve just got to experience it.
How competitive are you both? Are you in it to win it?
Harry: Once that start gun goes off, we’ll give it our best go! But you’ve got to balance the competition between your own sanity and comfort, and I think you can be a more effective racer if you don’t go out all guns blazing. It’s a marathon not a sprint.
Emma: I don’t want the pressure.
Harry: I don’t want mum to feel any pressure, she’ll do her best and that’s all we can ask for, that’s what we aim for, we’ll just do our best!