Category Archives: Coach Trip

Coach Trip: It’s not all fun, fun, fun

Coach Trip’s journey has now reached Day 20 (no, sorry, I can’t even type “Day 20” without hearing Marcus Bentley‘s voice). Inkface has already described this programme’s allure here, and I have to agree with her – it’s perfect after-school, mindless entertainment.

More a sort of low-rent travelogue than a reality show, there’s a lot of embarrassment to be had from the way this particular gang of Brits conduct themselves abroad. There’s a lot of sniggering, mainly from the people the narrator insists on referring to as “the young alliance,” who find foreigners and their quaint little ways amusing/boring, depending on whether the activity at hand involves an opportunity to show off.

These activities, designed to give a flavour of the local traditions of the places visited, have ranged from sporty (waterskiing, clay pigeon shooting) to practical (ice cream making) to painting violets with sugar syrup.

Something for everyone, then, but all of it designed to provide a laugh and a nice handful of bitchy comments. Until today. Brendan, the chirpy courier, announced the itinerary for their day in Serbia. “We’re off to… a Nazi concentration camp!” he announced. You could have poked the silence with a sharp stick, and this continued as they were shown around the camp. It’s a subject that, no matter how often you hear about it or how much you know, never fails to be shocking and upsetting. Being shown a tiny, windowless room lined at twelve inch intervals by barbed wire where the more “difficult” prisoners were put, in the middle of Coach Trip, of all things, was gobsmacking.

Of course, the sombre mood wasn’t allowed to last. There was a commercial break, and onto some traditional Serbian dancing, a bit of bitching and scheming, and then the next big shock of the day – the “young alliance” was shattered by Tam and Jayson being voted out. There were tears from Tam, who laid the blame firmly at the door of Eurovision losers Scooch, two of whom are aboard the bus. You couldn’t make this up, could you?

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Coach Trip: Are we there yet?

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.

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