Dave is an amusingly-named digital channel. The time-delayed version, Dave-ja-vu, is even more amusingly-named, and they must have had a lot of fun coming up with that. Currently on Dave you can enliven your breakfast by watching Ben Fogle’s Extreme Dreams, in which the adventurer and all-round good egg attempts to venture to some of the planet’s most inhospitable places in the company of a bunch of people hand-picked to be entirely unfit for the journey.
This week, Ben is walking to the lost city of Choquiqurao in the Andes (and he pronounces it beautifully too). It’s not completely lost in the sense that you can get there by helicopter, but Ben’s chosen route is to get to Choquiqurao the hard way – on foot and via a path so treacherous that only 100 people have traversed it in the last century.
Accompanying him are a sociopathic housewife who intersperses bouts of antisocial sulking with gazing adoringly at Peruvian guide and general hunk Pepe; a woman who is terrified of heights (so useful in the Andes); a woman with ADHD who can’t cope with groups (so useful when being part of a team); an older guy whose knees frankly aren’t up to the task but whose heart is in the right place (in his mouth most of the time); and a man with well-groomed eyebrows whom Ben describes as “the backbone of the team,” in the sense that he doesn’t waste time sulking, crying, screaming or falling over like the others do.
Ben Fogle remains resolutely cheerful throughout all this. “Look at this!” he cries happily, holding up a hand that’s been so badly-bitten by insects that it’s swollen to double the size of the other one. And it’s his hand! And he’s still cheerful! He carries people’s backpacks when they’re too knackered to do it themselves, he exhorts them to “dig deep” when they feel like jacking it all in, and he’s always ready with a hug if someone is emotional. Which they are approximately every five minutes. And he has the most endearing lisp.
In the episode I saw last, knackered-knees man Howard was lying gravely ill in a tent half way up a mountain. A very big mountain. A helicopter summoned to rescue him kept buzzing overhead and failing to find them. Pepe was concerned. Ben was concerned.
High drama in the high Andes. Looks like they’ll all have to “dig deep.”