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Reality TV Blog

'Coach Trip': The most underrated reality show on TV?

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What did you do this Bank Holiday Monday? While some were partying down Notting Hill, nursing hangovers with roast dinners and having BBQs in the rain, Reality Bites was settling down for a new series of Coach Trip. The king of teatime TV shows and the most underrated reality show on British TV.

Proving that reality TV doesn't have to be about making the most noise (X Factor), the crudest challenges (I'm A Celeb) or Jedward puking up garlic (Celebrity Big Brother), Coach Trip is the chilled out, laidback cat of reality programming. Less whizzes, bangs and pyros, more old people wheezing, high camp and gyros.

Coach Trip contestants

© Channel 4



On paper, the format sounds dryer than a PowerPoint presentation on the production of sandpaper. A load of couples (siblings, parents and kids, golden oldies, young lads) trundling around Europe in a clunky old coach, moaning about foreign grub, taking part in silly cultural tasks (that usually involve dressing up, dancing or throwing some old people down a zip-wire in the mountains), must have been a tough sell to the Channel 4 commissioners.

But as we enter the seventh series (and a second celebrity spinoff is around the corner), something has been going very right for this humble early evening show. Even changes in narrator (Andy Love and David Quantick have come and gone - 'Comedy' Dave Vitty is at the helm), and a worrying three-year hiatus between series two and three couldn't knock this vehicle off course.

Brendan from Coach Trip

© Channel 4



Central to the show's success has been tour guide extraordinaire Brendan Sheerin. His withering despair for Europe's tourism industry ("You're local... I'm international!"), his Kenneth Williams-esque mugging to the camera at every glimpse of a man in shorts or the nearest whiff of an double-entendre, and his effervescent personality shine throughout, lifting the show to sparkling heights above the usual daytime TV dirge.

Sheerin doesn't play the show totally solo. The contestants also add a bit of old-fashioned seaside charm. The latest series opened with a pair of mod DJs called Tony and Wolfy (whose middle name is rock 'n' roll), Torquay lovebirds Mark and Laura (who fell in love in a Tesco carpark), lovers Alison and Ashley ("We call Ashley Henry VIII, he's had that many wives") and flirty golden girls Linda and Chris, who fancy a bit of action with Brendan (you're barking up the wrong tree girls).

There are no 'I'm doing this for my kids/granddad/mum' sob stories, there is no humiliation or ridicule and there's no premium phone vote cash-cow. The most dastardly the show gets is a polite group vote on who should get a 'yellow card' and be asked to leave the trip. It's about as vicious as a bunny rabbit.

In a reality TV landscape where evil twists, controversies and celebrity torture have become standard fare, Coach Trip is a much needed sugary treat at the end of the working day.

Do you watch Coach Trip? Are you liking the new series? Share your views on the cult teatime classic below!

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