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 with his sister, Bonny, are setting off on their adventure in the highly anticipated Celebrity Race Across the World.
Starting in Marrakech, Morocco, the northwesternmost country in Africa, and concluding in Tromsø, Norway, known as the Arctic capital, this epic journey will traverse 24 countries, covering over 10,000 km. The route will take the pairs through every imaginable landscape and culture this part of the world has to offer: from the grand North African city of Marrakech, through the coastal ports and beaches of the Mediterranean, to historic and cosmopolitan cities, the formidable Alps, uncharted Central Europe, the enchanting Baltic States, and snow-covered Scandinavia.
Why did you want to take part in Celebrity Race Across The World?
Billy: To be honest, when we got approached for it and it was suggested that I do it with Bonny, I wasn’t too sure Bon would be up for doing it. The one thing that did make me think that maybe she would be up for doing it was the fact that it was about travelling because we’ve spoken about going travelling before. So, I was a bit unsure myself, I’d not watched the series before, and then I spoke to Bon about it and she said it could be quite cool. So, we sat down and watched it and got more and more into it and then decided why not!
Bonny: And here we are!
So, have you always wanted to travel?
Bonny: Yeah, we’ve always spoken about travelling and going and doing something together, but we’ve never actually been organised enough to do it. With this, it’s not organised for us, and we have to do it ourselves so it’s kind of like being thrown in the deep end and you’ve just got to do it. I just thought, it will be fun, and it’s the one time where we’ll both actually have a month off where we can say let’s go and do something different, so it was kind of a no brainer, and we get to spend a bit of time together and have a laugh.
What kind of travellers are you? Do you like your creature comforts, five-star hotels or are you adventurous and up for backpacking?
Bonny: I’ve always wanted to backpack. I’ve never actually backpacked before but it’s exciting to do it. If we had been planning our own travels together it probably wouldn’t quite have been backpacking!
Billy: It wouldn’t be all five-star stuff either, but it would probably be a little bit different to what I imagine this is going to be like, in terms of doing everything on such a budget and staying in hostels and being tight on money for food. That probably wouldn’t have been such a thing if we’d gone travelling ourselves outside of this race – I like to think we probably would have eaten well! So, there’s a few things that will probably be a bit different to how we would have done it.
Billy: But it’s exciting to try some new things as well!
How competitive are you both? Are you in it to win it?
Billy: I think so! More so now we’re closer to it, now we’re actually here at the start. We’ve been sat in our hotel room going through what languages we know and what could be useful, little tactics we think we could use, so we’re getting a little bit more competitive now we’re here.
Bonny: But we’ve only seen these four walls, so that’s probably going to go completely out of the window tomorrow when we actually get outside.
Billy: Yeah, we’ve come up with all these elaborate plans and then we’re going to end up in the complete wrong direction to what we think we will and what we’ve planned will be completely useless!
Do either of you speak any other languages?
Bonny: Well, we’ve just discovered Billy can speak a little bit of French!
Billy: I did GCSE French at school and I was alright but I’ve not used the language since, so it’s just completely gone from my memory. But now we’re actually out here and we’re thinking in that sort of way, I’ve remembered a couple of phrases that could be useful. So, there might be a tiny, tiny bit of broken French!
Bonny: We were just trying to work out how to say ‘sister’, but he can only say ‘dad’, so he’s just going to be saying ‘my name is Billy, and this is my dad,’ so that’s probably going to get us some funny looks!
What other skills to you think you’ll be able to bring to the race?
Billy: Well, when I was going through the bits of broken French that I may or may not know, Bonny started doing her charades, and what she’s going to try and do to visually explain to people what we’re trying to say. And I think it’s a hidden talent, so I’m looking forward to seeing that action!
Bonny: I don’t really know what strengths we bring to the table, but we’re both hard workers! So, when it gets to the point where we get to do some work, we’ll take that in our stride and have a bit of fun with it and try and make the most out of it.
How do you feel about travelling without a mobile phone or credit cards?
Billy: It’s going to be really weird. Even just today, leaving the UK and flying across, me and Bon kept tapping our pockets thinking we’d lost our phones, completely forgetting that they’re now gone completely. I feel like it’s worse when we’re in our hotel room before the start of it, because we’re sat here and we haven’t got much to do, so you’d normally just go on your phone, but maybe when we get going, and we’re busy thinking about getting across the world…
Bonny: I think we’ll soon forget about phones, but it is hard because you rely on them so much, and just to get out your card and tap it for a bottle of water or something, whereas you actually have to think.
How do you think you’ll do with the budgeting?
Billy: I don’t know to be honest… I might struggle with the budgeting; I do think I’m going to have to look after the purse strings a little bit!
Bonny: Earlier Billy said, ‘maybe we should get a taxi as soon as we start and get on our way’ and I said, ‘no, that’s going to be too expensive,’ and I think that’s the only time I’ve ever said that! Because if I’m in London, I’d just say let’s get in a taxi and not even think about it, or just jump on a bus, so I do think maybe it’s starting to sink in.
Billy: I think because we’re competitive, we will just naturally realise that we have to be good with that, so I think it will help us out a bit that we’re a bit competitive.
What do the rest of your family make of you two doing this trip together?
Billy: Most of them are laughing at us and saying, ‘are you sure?’ I don’t think we’ve instilled a lot of confidence in our friends and family that this is something we’re going to excel at. But I’m hoping we’re going to surprise people!
Do you think you’ll be able to sustain your close relationship during the race?
Bonny: Well, we’ve been locked in this room together for three hours now and we haven’t had an argument yet, so we’re off to a good start!
Billy: So far so good! It’s getting on potentially 10-hour long buses and stuff, and being in high-pressure situations as well, as I think there’s going to be a few of them along the way isn’t there, maybe where Bonny wants to get a bus and I want to get a train, decisions like that that we’ve got to make along the way. I’m hoping we don’t fall out at any point! There might just be a bit of back and forth.
Bonny: A bit of snapping at each other maybe if we’re both tired and hungry.
Billy: So far, I think we’re in a good starting position – we’re not angry at each other from the get-go!
What do you think your biggest challenges might be along the way?
Bonny: I think finding the modes of transport, I don’t know whether there’s a train network or a rail network here or what the buses are like, so it’s going to be figuring all that out and getting to grips with what the travel is like here – what the most popular modes of transport are, and what’s the cheapest. As soon as we get our head around that I think we’ll be able to get on with it a bit more, but it’s going be the slow start, I think.
Have you packed anything for this trip that you just can’t live without?
Billy: This one is for you, Bon… You know what you’ve got.
Bonny: I’m a bit of a fake tan queen because I’m so pale. I’m translucent! I can’t do with being pale! But I think I’m doing okay, bearing in mind that last time I went on holiday I went for 10 days, and my suitcase was 36 kilograms! This time round my rucksack is only 16 kilograms, so I think I’m doing really well!
Billy: Funnily enough when I thought about the things I needed for travelling fake tan wasn’t in the top 10!