Celebrities tackle Road to Saigon Rally for BBC TV

Eight celebrities join one of the world’s toughest classic car endurance rallies for a four-part TV series – airing from August 19 at 9pm on BBC2

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There’s a new four-part series airing from August 19 on BBC Two, and it promises to be rather exhilarating. Four celebrity duos put their driving skills and relationships to the test upon joining a significant part of the ERA’s (Endurance Rally Association) Road to Saigon Rally – one of the toughest classic car endurance events on the planet.

Noel Edmonds, Martin Kemp and Tinchy Stryder are among those attempting to cover more than 3000km in 12 days, behind the wheel of such classics as a classic Mini, Morris Minor and MGB GT. An easy feat perhaps on tarmac but very different on the Road to Saigon – though read here what Noel Edmonds has to say on it...

From the blistering heat destined to push classic cooling system beyond reproach to undulating roads certain to destroy suspension and mechanical components, the event is infamous for punishing both car and driver.

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Starting out from Singapore and passing through Phuket, Mae Hong Son, Phetchabun and Da Nang before heading to Saigon, the route traverses some of Asia’s least explored areas, offering outstanding natural beauty – and seriously tough conditions.

What happens in Episode 1?

In the first episode, airing on Sunday, August 19, the celebrity pairs are plunged straight into the busy rush hour conditions of Northern Thailand’s biggest city – Chiang Mai. With only an obscure tulip map to advise a route onto the open roads and up over the phenomenally steep Chae Son hills, the teamwork proves to thoroughly test each pair.

Tinchy Stryder and Jordan Stephens reportedly had no experience of driving classic cars, leading to panic stations during a breakdown, whereas Andi and Miquita Oliver are on this trip to bring them even closer as mother and daughter, but tensions soon rise as Andi is forced to take on all the driving.

As for the Kemps, they have been married for 30 years and claim to have only ever fought in the car. Lighthearted banter is rife, but things take a turn for the worse after the second day’s speed test.

Which celebrities are taking part in Eight go Rallying?

The duos and classic vehicles are:

  • Noel Edmonds and his wife Liz in an MGB GT.
  • Martin Kemp (Spandau Ballet/Eastenders) and wife Shirlie Kemp (Wham!) in a 1972 Mini
  • Chef Andi Oliver and her daughter, TV presenter Miquita Oliver a 1959 Morris Minor
  • Tinchy Stryder and Jordan Stephens (Rizzle Kicks) in a sky-blue Hillman Imp.

To be crowned champions each pair must work as a team, one as navigator and the other as driver. They must follow strict rally rules without the aid of satellite navigation and maintain a mantra for mechanical sympathy. We can’t say much, but as seen in the trailer, not all goes according to plan…

The series promises to capture all the laughs, beautiful landscapes and the inevitable drama of such a truly unique journey. Patrick Holland, controller, BBC Two, said: ‘This series promises to be a real treat. The rally takes us through some amazing landscapes and the couples will need to pull together to get through this hugely ambitious journey’.

You can see the results for yourself from August 19 at 9pm on BBC Two.

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