Well, well! Who’da thunked? A – relatively – new concept in reality TV shows. I say ‘relatively’ because there were some possible comparisons in this show with Blood, Sweat and Takeaways and any number of macho-orientated challenge shows, but I don’t think Aunty Beeb has ever before offered us a show that’s quite like this one.
Five British lads, Reuben Feldt, Ross Edgley, Ben Roper, Nick Barratt and Easton Woodburn – in that order as pictured above – have been sent off around the world to face some of nature’s toughest fighters and battles to prove which of them is indeed, Tough Guy or Chicken.
They also needed to prove who had a strong stomach, as some fairly grisly scenes ably demonstrated. However, there was a cracking sound track which included Kings of Leon and Blur, so that was ok then.
This first episode introduced us to the competitors, who pretty much all caused my ticker to flutter somewhat; Reuben with his new age (and awesome) dreads and spiritual nature loving soul, Ross who’s built like a tank and has muscles on his muscles, Ben who’s a vegetarian and animal lover, Nick, a dancer and all round creative type and Easton, a fireman who’s one of those guys who will do pretty much anything for a dare.
For their first challenge – other than sleeping in a shack with bats and creepy crawlies flying around – the lads had to become chagras. The well trained chagra will ride his horse boldly and skilfully into a herd of bulls and trap them for branding. The unskilled chagra, or the one who makes a mistake, will, most probably, find himself very dead.
We saw how the five Brits had to cope with the reduced oxygen of the Andes as well as taking instruction from a no-nonsense seasoned chagra who wasn’t at all convinced of the lads’ ability to survive on horseback, never mind chasing angry bulls arounds.
One of the lessons was what to do if a bull charges – other than asking him if it includes a service charge – and most of the boys were woefully lacking in running off skills. However, help was at hand as dozens upon dozens of chagras turned up for the annual bull round-up. I’ve never seen so many ponchos in one place before.
But the beponcho’d men soon proved there was to be no mincing about – despite looking a bit gay in their knitted outerwear – and we watched as they killed a bull in order to provide meat for the week. Poor Ben couldn’t watch and cried as the animal was tied up and slaughtered. And I don’t blame him; it was pretty sickening to watch.
More hideousness followed – but Ben decided to have no part in it and instead maintained camp and cooked – when the boys trained in the art of lassoing. They took on calves which, once caught, were ‘marked’ which basically entailed cutting their ears in half. It was hideous but of course, it’s just the reality of life to those who do it day in day out. I guess it’s easy to have sensibilities when you can have them from the safety of your couch and eat only meat that comes nicely packaged in cellophane, deluding us into conveniently forgetting it was ever a live animal.
Anyway, the action continued unabated but poor Easton developed worsening altitude sickness and was told that if he had fluid on his lungs, he could potentially die within 24 hours if he didn’t go down from the high altitude. The poor lad wept as he reluctantly conceded to the inevitable and had to leave to get treatment.
That left just three of the boys to finish the challenge, Nick, Ross and Reuben, and by now, all three had some war wounds to show off including burst blisters, cuts, bruises and burns, which they compared and crowed over as only the truly macho can. However, Reuben’s joie de vivre was compromised somewhat when he just didn’t cut the bull mustard and, for his own safety as much as anything, he had to drop out of the challenge.
By the end of the week then, Ross and Nick, having impressed the locals by not getting gored to death in a celebratory bull fight, were declared fully fledged chagras and given a ceremonial lasso. Awwww.
Next week, the lads will be facing the frozen wastes of Siberia in a bid to become reindeer herders, and judging by the brief clip we saw of their efforts, Prancer, Dancer and all the other reindeer aren’t quite as cuddly as one might expect…