There is, for me, no deeper circle of hell than the idea of being stuck on an endless coach trip with strangers and a relentlessly cheery tour guide. Day in/day out of hours sniffing that particular odd upholstery smell that will for ever remind me of school day trips and being sick. That weird intimacy of everyone using the on-board toilet, or stopping every three hours to shuffle off to a municiple roadside toilet block. Daily packing and unpacking suitcases, staying in cheap hotels, enforced jolly day trips and group activities. I’d rather be in Bedlam.
Coach Trip is not a new programme, but a new series has just begun on Channel Four at 5pm weekdays. I’m pleased about this, because when I’ve described it to people, they think I’m making it up. But actually, when you know it’s an Endemol creation, it suddenly makes sense.
The set-up is that you begin with a group of total strangers. All are couples of various sorts. You get old retired folk, young unemployed people, students. They might be friends, partners or husband and wife. They are taken on an endless (50 days actually, but it does seem endless) coach tour around Europe by driver Brendan, a cheerful chap (he needs to be) who wears distinctive glasses.
I haven’t yet figured out how anyone does their laundry. But this is not a programme where anyone is stylish. A tracksuit or variant on M&S leisure wear for the over 30s. Jeans and t shirts for the under 30s.
At the end of every day, usually after a group trip or activity, every couple votes for the pair they want voted off. This takes place in front of everyone else, and they have to give a reason. Whoever they pick can answer back. It is never pretty. Frankly, if there was a spin-off series of Midsomer Murders on Coach Trip, it would come as no surprise to me.
The couple with the most votes gets a yellow card from Brendan if it’s the first time they’ve been chosen and a red card if it’s the second. A red card means they get chucked off the coach and sent back to Blighty and a new couple will join the endless merry go round of horror the next day.
Alliances form and split. Prejudices are never far from the surface. Nobody ever takes being voted for well. This time, the group started their first trip in Portsmouth, playing with boats as an activity, and we left them on board the overnight ferry to France. The youngsters had teamed up and looked like they planned to party the night away. Depending on how the numbers balance out, late night, rowdy people can be the ones voted off by the older people in a group swoop. But this time, it was an older couple, Ray and Glenys, who began by saying they are proud to be British and not at all keen on Europe, may get their wish sooner than they think since they were the first to be given the first yellow card. Ray had been trying to explain to youngsters Jayson and Tam which countries were involved in the First and Second World Wars. I thought he was being remarkably patient, all things considered.
It’s rather enjoyable to watch from a safe distance actually even if I do find myself chewing the edge of the sofa. The one thing that would improve it tho’ would be a Dave ‘Come Dine With Me’ Lamb voiceover.
Posted by Inkface