Two Words with Peta Sykes, VP Nordics at All3Media

Two Words with Peta Sykes, VP Nordics at All3Media
Formatbiz had the chance to have a chat with Peta Sykes, VP Nordics at All3Media International on the success of reality series  Race Across the World -Denmark.

1.Can you give a quick outline of the Race Across the World format?

Race Across the World is a real-world adventure format where contestants are travelling “through” rather “over” countries, interacting with locals and delving into different cultures. What makes it stand out from a number of other adventure and travel formats is its focus on journey, rather than the destination.

The format follows teams of two contestants who know each other, (e.g. husband and wife, best friends, siblings) who are tasked with racing from point A to B without getting on an airplane. They also aren’t allowed phones or credit cards and they can’t directly use the internet but they are given a world map and can ask locals for help. The pairs of contestants each have the budget of the cost of a direct flight to the destination, but the contestants are allowed to undertake jobs en route to earn more money for their journey.

These key points help to ensure that the contestants have to travel at a slower pace than they otherwise would and as a result get to see more, experience more and interact with local people more.
The first team to complete the race wins a cash prize. Whilst the prize is significant it is not a life-changing amount, so contestants will always be weighing up the importance of having life experiences versus racing to the next checkpoint. This ensures the format focus to remains on the journey – although the competition element between the teams still adds great entertainment value when contestants race to cross get to the check point.

2.With multiple seasons commissioned why do think this format is so appealing to audiences in Denmark?

Race Across The World is such an entertaining format as it combines gameshow, a travel show and a reality show all in one. It’s family friendly viewing but it delivers must watch moments and really engaging characters- it’s inspiring, it’s cheering, it’s heartbreaking and heartwarming.

For the Danish version, TV2 Denmark felt like a perfect match as the channel’s focus is on bringing feel good content to audiences - their motto is ‘All that we share’. They don’t tend to focus on reality series but they look to offer programmes that help to ‘build people up’ and Race Across The World delivers exactly the kind of motivating and celebratory moments TV2 look for.
The show delivers a real sense of scale and adventure for Danish viewers, which is always appealing but was especially so when Season 1 launched in March 2020 as viewers were able to virtually travel through their TV screens, whilst at home due to covid restrictions.

Danish viewers are very environmentally aware and so a travel series that celebrates slower travel is received very positively. One of the main points of the show is to demonstrate that we can travel without flying, that we should be traveling without flying when we can.

3. Can you talk about how the Danish adaptation has been produced specifically for local audiences?

The first season of the Danish version was 8 x 40 minute as opposed to the 6 x 1 hour. This meant two extra checkpoints could be added to the Danish version expanding the journey time and showcasing more destinations.

Another key point for the Danish production is making sure Demark landmarks are celebrated even outside of the country. For example the final destination S1 fittingly ended at the Danish Seaman’s church in Singapore. The Danish version also aimed to heighten the drama and sense of jeopardy, with S1 running two eliminations, rather than just one for the contestants.

The format requires producers to think on their feet and react quickly to changing situations, which is what makes for great content! As well as capturing the highs of travel, the Danish series captured the reality of travel struggles especially in Covid and during Season 2 face masks were required, and two teams had to self-isolate after catching Covid, which gave the series the sense of feeling grounded in the real world events and therefore more relatable for audiences.

Capturing a sense of adventure and spectacle was also really important to TV2 and in season 3 they filmed in North and South America. The teams set off from New York which was logistically demanding before heading down to Argentina, which was a longer journey than the UK version which started in Mexico City and ended in Ushuaia. The Danish version finale was in Buenos Aires when Argentina won the Football World Cup – which made for a spectacular end to the series.

As Denmark has more streamlined production teams than the UK, one of the benefits of this format is that there are tried and tested routes carried out by the UK producers, which means that a lot of the route planning and research has already been undertaken. As the international producers of RATW Studio Lambert, are all passionate about the format and keen to share information which has been incredibly beneficial to local producers.