Phil Keoghan’s road to adventure
Annelies Gartner October 12, 2015, 11:22 am
Phil Keoghan is the producer and host of The Amazing Race.
It’s amazing what people will go through in the hope of winning $1 million. Contestants have chewed on hairy cows’ lips, been chased down a mountain by giant wheels of cheese and jumped off buildings from frightful heights — one unlucky player even had a watermelon catapulted into her face at short range.
Now in its 27th season, The Amazing Race continues to push people to do extraordinary things at all ends of the earth and New Zealand-born host Phil Keoghan loves to see people out of their comfort zones.
“I get a huge amount of pleasure just seeing them push themselves and do things they’d never imagine they’d ever do,” he says over the phone from the US.
Keoghan says he is a bit of a daredevil himself and can rattle off a list of achievements that most of us would never dream of attempting.
“I have broken a world record (in bungee jumping) and swum across the Bosphorus and dived the world’s longest underwater cave and done all kinds of crazy things,” he says.
“I putted a golf ball across Scotland once, had dinner on top of an erupting volcano in Sicily on the top of an island called Stromboli.”
A near-death experience at age 19 on his first presenting job made Keoghan rethink his priorities in life.
“It was a shipwreck in New Zealand and it was a pivotal point in my life ... I thought that I was going to live for ever until I found myself isolated in a 22,000-tonne shipwreck, 120 feet (36.5m) under water,” he says. “I thought I was going to die and was panicking and thankfully my dive buddy came back to get me and led me out of the shipwreck.
“That really was the impetus for me to write down all the things I would’ve regretted not doing in my life had I not come out of there. That list has become a contract if you like — the motivational list to do all the things that I have done.”
Shooting 12 episodes of The Amazing Race in 21 days doesn’t allow Keoghan a lot of time to partake in the challenges the contestants face but he says he does make time to get to know teams.
At the mat that marks each pit stop, players stop to chat about the leg of the race they’ve just completed. Keoghan says sometimes you only see a few seconds of that footage but it’s his chance to catch up.“You’ve got 11 teams running at me, at the mat, a lot of stuff has happened that I have been told about but that I haven’t seen. So the audience has seen it but I haven’t, I’ve only just got an update via text saying ‘This happened with this team, that happened with that team’,” he explains. “I do spend a lot of time with them there on the mat ... and then depending on how big the spread is with the teams I’ll be able to sit down and have a meal with them if there’s time before maybe I’m catching another flight.”
The pressure of the race means Keoghan sees teams at their best and worst but he says he and the past competitors are a close-knit group.
“I keep in contact with a lot of the teams,” he says. “It’s random, sometimes I won’t hear from a team for a year and they’ll say ‘Hey I’m coming to LA, we’re all going to get together and watch the show this Friday’.“Once people become part of the family they’re always part of the family and teams, the alumni, they all really stay closely connected and they keep me connected. They’re pretty good about that.
“There are other teams that I hear from almost on a weekly basis that date back all the way to season one.”And to become part of The Amazing Race alumni you first have to gain the approval of Keoghan, Lynne Spillman and her casting team.
But it’s the head of CBS who has the final say on who will join the race.
“It sometimes happens that you just pick a team because they’re just great but for the most part you’re also looking at how it all blends together to get the diversity and to get a really telegenic cast we think is going to make for a good dynamic,” Keoghan says.
“There’s no point in having redundancy where we want diversity and so we slowly start to whittle down until we get to a core group and then that group goes over to the network and the head of all of CBS, Les Moonves, he literally weighs in on whether he approves of the cast or not.”
So what does such a thrill- seeker get out of being a presenter who spends a lot of time waiting on mats for people to arrive?
“Quite frankly I’ve spent so many years now doing so many crazy things, I get as much pleasure being a part of The Amazing Race where we’re sharing these adventures with people that have never done crazy things in their lives at all.” https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/29787230/phil-keoghan-s-road-to-adventure/