EXCLUSIVE: The BBC is hoping to get Studio Lambert’s Race Across the World and its celebrity version – one of the highest-profile early casualties of the pandemic-inducted production pause – back into filming “as soon as possible” despite Omicron fears.
A casting call was issued recently for contributors to “take on the challenge of travelling thousands of miles, at ground level, across land and sea” in the third season of the non-celebrity version and it is understood producers are pushing ahead amidst growing case numbers of the Omicron variant, which has caused restrictions to be tightened around the world.
The casting call referenced Covid-19 and questioned whether the “restrictions of the pandemic may have sparked the wanderlust” of potential contributors.
It is understood that the non-celebrity version will enter pre-production first, with the casting process taking longer for that version, which tends to attract thousands of applicants.
A BBC spokeswoman said: “The hope is for both series to return as soon as possible. Because of the nature of the non-celebrity version, which requires a lengthier casting process, we’re delighted that we’re able to start the search for our next set of intrepid travellers for series three.”
The format involves teams of two competing to get to a faraway destination without a plane, with a £20,000 ($26,491) cash prize on offer for the winners.
One of BBC2’s most popular shows of the past few years, the celebrity version was on the brink of entering production in March 2020 before becoming a high-profile early casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic when it was placed on pause two weeks prior to the UK lockdown. Virtually all major scripted and non-scripted shows were to follow suit over the next few weeks.
The show is especially difficult to make under pandemic conditions as it involves numerous contributors and a vast production crew travelling across the globe.
In the UK, fully vaccinated travellers currently have to take a PCR test upon return and self isolate until they’ve received the result, a tightening that was introduced this month due to Omicron. Travel from a separate Red List of countries requires 10 days quarantine in a hotel at a cost of thousands of pounds, although this plan could soon be scrapped soon, according to reports in the UK press.