Six pairs of celebrities are set to race against the clock in Around The World In 80 Days – an ambitious global relay, re-enacting the epic odysseys of Phileas Fogg and Michael Palin for a 21st-century audience. The 6 x 60-minute series will see the celebrities take part in the 80-day voyage to raise money for this year's BBC Children in Need.
Frank Skinner and Lee Mack
As part of Children in Need, 12 celebrities form a global relay to circumnavigate the world in 80 days without flying. Comedians Frank Skinner and Lee Mack kick the whole Around the world in 80 days challenge off. They have just eight days to make it from the Reform Club in London to the Turkey/Iraq border where they hand over to team two, Apprentice stars Nick Hewer and Saira Kahn. London to Turkey sounds easy on paper, what with 21st century travel to speed them on their way, or not. Frank and Lee can't even find their way out of the train station once they arrive in Paris and they have a connecting train to catch in just fifteen minutes. Frank and Lee whistle through Europe spending their first night together on a train to Vienna with some hilarious anecdotes thrown in. Ah Vienna. No stopping for the dynamic duo. They have a boat to catch to Budapest. But this is no ordinary boat, it's a turbo charged monster that hurtles them down the Danube. A brief wave at Bratislava and they fall out in a heap in Budapest. It's taken them 24 hours to travel nearly a thousand miles. Their journey continues to Serbia on horseback, or it would if Frank could bear it but a night out on the plains is enough and the boys catch the train to Belgrade. On arrival they are whisked away in a bullet proof car, sent for them by royalty. Their appetites satiated; a 16 hour, 1,000 mile journey by bus to Istanbul lies ahead. And it's here that the wheels finally start to come off. They arrive in Istanbul exhausted but not only that, they are now seriously doubting whether they can make the handover a full 1,000 miles and two days away. In the incredible moonscape of Cappadocia, the boys arrive to hand over to the Apprentice stars, but where?
Nick Hewer and Saira Khan
Twelve celebrities race against the clock to raise money for 2009's BBC Children in Need. The Apprentice stars Nick Hewer and Saira Khan pick up the baton on the second leg of this ambitious Around the World relay race. They've been given just 14 days to travel 3,000 miles from Turkey to Kazakhstan, and there's only one rule, they can't fly. Amongst other countries their journey should take them through war torn Iraq and volatile Iran. But Iranian elections spark civil unrest that puts pay to their plans when the country's borders are closed to foreign film crews. With no time to waste Nick and Saira head off on their new route. First stop Georgia where they are invited to a traditional feast. Back on the road they hitch a lift to the shores of the Caspian Sea. Overnight they get bad news, their visa applications to Uzbekistan have been rejected, and once again they have to change their plans: they must sail direct to Kazakhstan. After three days stranded on the shores of the Caspian they board a ferry and set on their way. It will take Nick and Saira a week to drive to the handover point, but they don't have that much time. They race to the train station, where they discover there is no train leaving until after the handover day. There is no way they can meet their deadline, but missing it will have disastrous effects for the next team. But Nick and Saira didn't get where they are without bending a few rules... The next morning a helicopter takes Nick, Saira and the crew across the dramatic Kazakh desert following the train tracks. Eventually they spot a train, set down and race to the station in time to meet the train. They get off at the town of Aralsk and drive the final 500 miles to the handover, and Julia Bradbury and Matt Baker.
Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury
In a re-enactment of Jules Verne's literary odyssey, six pairs of celebrities race against the clock to raise money for 2009's BBC Children in Need. They form a global relay to circumnavigate the world in 80 days without flying. The celebrity relay continues with Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury from Countryfile. Can they travel 3,700 miles from Kazakhstan to China in just 14 days? Finding themselves close to the Kazakh city of Semey and intrigued by its dark past as a nuclear testing site, they take a detour to meet an eccentric nuclear scientist with a museum full of radioactive exhibits. Later, a brush with the Russian customs police sees them ordered off the train and they must race through the night by road to make their connection on the Trans-Siberian railway. In Mongolia they spend the night in a traditional tent, called a 'ger', with a family of nomads and eat some very fresh goat stew. Visiting one of Mongolia's biggest festivals, the 'Naddam', Matt takes on a local wrestling champion with painful consequences. They resume their journey but receive an unexpected call with some bad news... Frank Skinner narrates.
Bill Turnbull and Louise Minchin
BBC Breakfast presenters Bill Turnbull and Louise Minchin attempt to race across more than a quarter of the globe in the fourth and largest leg of the BBC Children in Need relay. Banned from entering China, the pair hope that they can make the 10,000 mile trip through Russia, South Korea and across the Pacific in time to reach America and the next team. It is not all plain sailing. Before they can catch the last train of the day out of Ulan Bataar, Bill loses a tooth on the bone-rattling roads. They take the gamble of heading to the dentist on the way to the station. On board the train, a tango dancer called Marina catches Bill's eye and she invites them to dance classes in Vladivostock. They catch a ferry from the gloomy Zarubino terminal, only to find that the shipping company has messed up their reservations - Bill has been boosted to first class, while Louise is sent to steerage. Back on dry land, Louise and Bill explore South Korea while they wait for their container ship to America. At the border with North Korea, they pay their respects to the forgotten British soldiers who fought in the Korean War in the 1950s and in Seoul they visit a dog cafe with a difference. They make a final dash across country on the KTX, one of the fastest trains in the world, to catch a cargo vessel for the 6,000 mile trip across the Pacific. Aboard, going a little stir crazy, Bill performs a desperate karaoke rendition of Born to Be Wild to a captive audience. By the time they reach Long Beach California, Bill and Louise are more than ready to handover to the next pair.
John Barrowman and Myleene Klas
Torchwood star John Barrowman and TV presenter Myleene Klass race 'road trip' style across the Southern States as the epic 80 Days odyssey for Children in Need reaches Hollywood. These high-octane musical entertainers travel the dream leg of the 80 Days adventure in style, commandeering a lowrider, speedboat and long-distance truck in a bid to deliver the baton in time. John overcomes his fear of flying when a balloon ride ends in a crash landing in Arizona. A UFO meditation amongst the spectacular Red Rocks of Sedona brings surprising results for Captain Jack. In El Paso Texas, Myleene comes face to face with the harsh realities of life on the US border with Mexico. Juarez is known for the notorious drug cartels who fight it out in this border town. Myleene meets a resident of El Paso whose cousin is presumed kidnapped by the gangs. John questions the value of the government's controversial new border fence and discovers that immigrants will cross the border by any means. There are plenty of light-hearted distractions along the way, as Myleene and John are derailed by donkeys on Route 66, get to grips with a 21st century super-car, and blag items for the Children in Need auction. Crossing eight States in ten days, musical theatre star John and classically trained pianist Myleene reach New Orleans in time for their debut jazz performance with artist Irvin Mayfield. After a few hours sleep this self-styled husband and wife team must complete the final 400 miles of their 2700 mile trek in a determined race to the finishing line in Memphis.
Shane Richie and Josie Lawrence
It's the final leg and actors Shane Richie and Josie Lawrence are entrusted to bring the 80-day relay to a close. But will they drop the baton at the final hurdle? With a thousand miles to cover to reach the port of Wilmington, North Carolina, Shane and Josie head to the nearest vehicle hire centre to get on the road. Their choice of transport - a 36ft mobile home. Shane has never driven anything this big and it shows... Disaster looms for the 80 day challenge. Hurricane Bill is in the Atlantic and heading for North Carolina. Undeterred they keep an appointment with the North Carolina Eastenders Fan Club who must raise 50,000 dollars a year to keep it on their screens. Reaching Wilmington they face a 36 hour wait while their ship sits out the hurricane. Finally underway, Shane and Josie settle into life at sea and with a ship and crew on hand they decide to shoot a mini soap. The fun distracts them for a while but inevitably thoughts turn back to the potential failure of the 80 Day challenge. The hurricane has meant they now find themselves two days behind schedule. Their only chance to get back on track is to transfer from the cargo ship to a smaller faster boat. The problem is, the cargo ship cannot stop and they will have to climb down a rope ladder from one boat to another. Shane and Josie dutifully start practising climbing rope ladders but nothing compares to the real event. Day 80 arrives and Shane and Josie still have to get off the cargo ship...it's time for the ship-to-ship transfer. All the other celebrity Around the World globe trotters start gathering at the Reform club in London in expectation of the carpet bag's return. Will it arrive in time to successfully complete the challenge?