Since I went thru all the trouble of registering and junk
(thought it was something new)
20 Nov 2008
TV+ Man of the world Travelling the world, experiencing lifechanging adventures – it’s all in a day’s work for Phil Keoghan. GUY DAVIS tagged along with the host of Seven’s The Amazing Race.
Phil Keoghan is no stranger to taking risks. The adventureseeking New Zealander has swum the open ocean (nearly getting hit by an oil tanker in the process), scuba-dived in underwater caves and enjoyed a very nice meal on top of an active volcano.
Wanderlust: The Amazing Race’s Phil Keoghan is travelling strong.
But the biggest risk he’s ever taken? Well, that involved leaving New Zealand in the 1990s and travelling to New York City with nothing but a backpack and a dream – to make it as a TV presenter in the United States.
“Not knowing anybody and trying to get a job in the industry when it was unheard of for a foreigner to get work was a big thing for me,” he said.
It didn’t take Keoghan long to get his foot in the door, but there were still a few hiccups along the way, such as his bid to land the hosting job on the popular reality-TV series Survivor.
“One of the reasons I was told that I didn’t get the job was that I was a New Zealander,” he said. “They gave me a shot but they asked me to Americanise my voice. It’ll be a while before you hear a pure New Zealand accent on American television.”
While the Survivor job didn’t pan out, Keoghan eventually landed a role eminently well-suited to his adventurous spirit – presenting The Amazing Race.
And while the globetrotting challenge may have initially been regarded by some as a Survivor knock-off, its staying power (it’s now in its 13th season) and critical acclaim (it’s won seven Emmy awards) have made it a force to be reckoned with.
The 13th season of The Amazing Race – now airing on Seven – has 11 teams of two (including a pair of fraternity brothers, a mother and son and a separated couple looking to reconnect) taking off on an epic endurance test that takes them to destinations both new and familiar to the show’s viewers.
Aside from the opportunity to visit myriad foreign lands, the last team standing also takes home a cool million.
For the seventh time, the show takes its contestants to India, one of Keoghan’s personal favourites. “I don’t know a more diverse, colourful, dynamic country in the world,” he said.
He adds that for some of the show’s participants, who are used to “the sameness and comfort level” living in America can provide, travelling to India is “like being on another planet”.
The Amazing Race’s current season also returned to Keoghan’s home turf of New Zealand for the third time, where the contestants met the host’s dad, John Keoghan.
“I was able to help him celebrate his 66th birthday,” smiled the younger Keoghan.
The host was also happy to showcase some of his country’s native culture.
As far as new destinations are concerned, the 13th season takes its contestants to places as far-flung as Cambodia, Bolivia and the former Soviet republic Kazakhstan.
After what seemed like a shaky beginning, The Amazing Race well and truly found its feel a few seasons into its run and is now a well-established reality-TV staple. According to Keoghan, winning its first Emmy award in 2003 helped consolidate its status.
“When you get an award like that – and you’re up against the best of the best, like Survivor and American Idol – people go, ‘Well, hold on, what’s this show?’” he said.
While he may be something of an adventurer, although he claims to have eased back on his daredevil ways since becoming a husband and father, Keoghan draws the line at taking part in the Amazing Race himself.
“I wouldn’t go on the Race,” he said. “I don’t want to be examined by millions. If it was just an adventure, that would be very different. I admire the contestants for putting themselves out there and I feel like we’re giving them an incredible opportunity, but I wouldn’t do it. I like to watch on the sidelines.”
Seven, Thursday at 8.30pm