So, here we go again. Bitching, alliances, inflated egos and a healthy dose of ‘reality’ from an army of delusional fools who are left to suffer in their claustrophobic environment for our viewing pleasure. I could be talking about any number of reality TV shows, not least Big Brother, but I am referring, of course, to the much anticipated return of Channel 4’s Coach Trip. But even Big Brother isn’t as exciting as Coach Trip. Oh no.
Coach Trip is a stunning piece of televisual artwork. It skips across my television screen with the grace of a thousand ballet trained lambs. It is perfection. It isn’t a case of watching Coach Trip when it’s on TV every weekday at 5pm, it’s a case of being allowed to experience it. If you haven’t watched it yet, well, you just haven’t been called by the power of the Coach. Your time will come, though, don’t you fret. Basically, Coach Trip is a program about seven couples who travel around Europe on a coach. At the end of each day there is a vote and the couple with the highest amount of votes receives a yellow card. If a couple receives two yellow cards, then they’re off the coach. It is literally as simple as that, but it somehow makes for television gold.
OK, so the contestants are hardly the most entertaining bunch in the world. An ex-dinner lady and a retired lorry driver are hardly going to hold the most riveting conversations with ‘partial vegetarians’ or ‘cheeky chaps’. But they have their own charm, and you end up rooting for your favourite teams to last the course. My favourites are Matt and Tom who, at the time of going to press, have lasted the entire trip. Amazing.
It would be odd, though, if Coach Trip’s roster was full of Big Brother’s plastic wannabes, where the ex-porn star and retired playboy bunny meet their part-human, part-octopus counterparts. Coach Trip may lack Big Brother’s freak factor, but that’s what makes it so endearing. It so delightfully displays British ignorance in all its glory that it’s hard not to fall for its clunky charms.
The daily vote is the apex of every day’s events. The couples all seem to get along swimmingly throughout the day but when the vote comes along there are always a few people who shout at each other like they want to not only chuck their opposing team off the coach but off a cliff for good measure. The vote created one of my favorite reality-TV factions in recent years, the ‘Coach Mafia,’ which sounds at once powerful and incredibly lame.
Why anyone would want to go on the coach, let alone want to stay on it for five weeks, is beyond me. Coaches are horrible things. The toilet always stinks out the rest of the vehicle, the seats are uncomfortable and severely lack leg room and by the time the coach trundles into its destination you have all of five minutes to enjoy the sights and sounds before you have to march back on to get to your next destination. It’s a relentless and ultimately pointless cycle. Do the coach trippers win anything? Apart from one couple having a few extra days at the final destination, no. Is it worth it? No. Is it more enjoyable than watching another group of 14 people desperately grasping for fame on Big Brother? You’d better believe it.