The Amazing Race — Thursday, 9.30pm, Seven Network
TV WEEK asks Phil Keoghan to reveal the inside secrets of The Amazing Race
Do you ask teams to come up with nicknames for each other?
If you look at the beginning of any new season, it all happens very quickly. The teams don't talk to each other until we say "Go" so their only assessment of each other is what they look like physically. But very quickly out of the gate, BJ and Tyler came up with the Double Ds for Dani and Danielle. They either come with a name (for themselves), like the Gutsy Grannies, or they just seem to very quickly become labelled.
What's the deal with Yield and Fast Forward — there doesn't seem to be a pattern...
We don't like to make a pattern of it because we want to keep them guessing — so we'd never want them to know. It's something that we put in there from time to time if we feel that it's going to surprise the teams. But they never know it's coming and it's definitely a random thing. It's not a pattern like the Roadblock or Detour.
Do you think Fast Forwards have always worked? Sometimes teams who take the Fast Forward don't wind up in front.
If the Fast Forward is run exactly the way it's meant to be and they don't get lost, then there's definitely an advantage. Everything we do, we run with mock teams. We know roughly how fast a slow team will go, what an average speed will be and what a fast time will be, so there's definitely an advantage to it. But sometimes, a team can take a Fast Forward and get terribly lost on the way out, so even though a team's had to do more, they end up getting ahead. It's not a guarantee that you're going to get ahead; it's only an opportunity to get ahead.
Would you ever do an all-stars version of the show?
I don't know if they have any plans to do it — it's not up to me. But all-stars shows have never really rated any better than any other show. I think there's an innocence that's lost when you put people back. Now they've seen themselves on TV, they're much more affected by how they're going to be documented. When you have people that are fresh, it's all new and exciting.
Of all the places that you've been, where would you like to spend more time?
I would definitely love to spend more time in India. I've probably been there half a dozen times and I can never get enough of that place.
How do you choose teams to take part?
A lot of people will come up to me and say, "Oh man, if I was on the Race, I know how to travel, I'm really fit and strong..." People tend to measure themselves against these teams based on their own ability and think they're going to blitz the field. But we're not choosing people because of their physical ability or their mental ability; we're choosing people because they're interesting and they represent so-called ordinary people. We're not looking for the elite of the elite. People tend to forget that sometimes.
How do the individual legs get devised?
(The executive producer) works out the route first, then some lead producers go out and scout ideas in different countries. (We) then work with a local production team. The Race is still produced by the Race producers, but we rely on local production teams to help us with resources and facilities.
You seem to be happier to see some teams rather than others at the pit stops...
What gets lost in interpretation sometimes is that whenever a team comes in, no matter if they're first or last, I try to be completely deadpan with every team. The reason I'm deadpan is that I want to bring them to the mat and control the reaction. If I give it away while they're a football field away and we don't have a close-up of them, we can't control it on the mat. So I'll just stare them down whether they're first or last, and then I can go either way. But the editors use the stone-cold face on some and back cuts on others, where I've let them off the hook once they've come in.
The eighth season was a Family Edition, which hasn't aired yet in Australia, but it copped a lot of flak in the US. Why was that?
It appealed to a different group of people. There were some fans who liked it as much as the other seasons, but it would be fair to say the majority of hard-core fans didn't like it as much as teams of two. If we learnt anything, it's the importance of having places in the show. Adding more faces and less places doesn't necessarily make for a better race.
Buy this week's TV WEEK to read more of this interview with Phil Keoghan. The host talks about life onset, the best and worst challenges to date, smelly pit stop hugs and more! link