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World’s Most Dangerous Roads review: Rhod Gilbert’s a natural literary wit – give that man a book deal! writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS


World’s Most Dangerous Roads 

Rating:

Into the Congo With Ben Fogle 

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Some enterprising publisher ought to strap Rhod Gilbert into a chair, shove a laptop in front of him and force him to write a comic novel.

He has a turn of phrase that makes him the natural successor to literary wits such as Tom Sharpe, as he demonstrated between avalanches of swearing on World’s Most Dangerous Roads (Dave).

Tackling the Alpine passes of northern Italy in a Land Rover with his pal the comedian Angela Barnes, Rhod declared the steep track — rocks on one side, sheer drop on the other — had ‘more hairpins than an episode of Corrie’. He must have been thinking of Hilda Ogden and her curlers.

As they squeezed through the Saracen tunnel, half a mile long and completely unlit, he described it as ‘tighter than a hippo’s pop socks’. And when they finally reached safety, to Angela’s delight and disbelief, he said she was ‘buzzing like a wasp in a trombone’.

Rhod Gilbert and Angela Barnes pictured in World's Most Dangerous Roads

Rhod Gilbert and Angela Barnes pictured in World’s Most Dangerous Roads

For most of the trip, they chatted about their ailments. Angela suffers from degenerative spinal disc disease. Rhod is recovering from head and neck cancer

For most of the trip, they chatted about their ailments. Angela suffers from degenerative spinal disc disease. Rhod is recovering from head and neck cancer

Those were the printable bits. Both celebs, tackling an extreme motoring challenge for the first time, blurted four-letter words in such inventive combinations, they’d make a navvy blush.

In a bid to ensure at least some parts of the show were suitable for broadcast before the watershed, they installed a bucket as a swearbox… and filled it four times over.

Their route took them from the Italian riviera, over the mountains to a breathtakingly beautiful little town called Molini di Triora, and on towards the French border. On the way they stopped to investigate a World War II bunker in a cliff face, which could be reached only via a rope bridge across a gorge.

For most of the trip, they chatted about their ailments. Angela suffers from degenerative spinal disc disease. Rhod is recovering from head and neck cancer, an illness that he chronicled last November in a Channel 4 documentary.

He still seems quite surprised to be alive, though he nearly wasn’t as Angela zigzagged along the ancient salt road, the 4×4’s wheels inches from plunging over the precipice. She nicknamed the LandRover ‘Vera’ because of its tendency to veer — but the real problem was less with the steering, more with the drivers.

Neither of them was able to ignore the view and concentrate on the road. They blamed their short attention spans: both have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], a label so popular among celebrities that it appears to have overtaken membership of the Groucho Club — just as fashionable but without the steep membership fees.

In a bid to ensure at least some parts of the show were suitable for broadcast before the watershed, they installed a bucket as a swearbox... and filled it four times over

In a bid to ensure at least some parts of the show were suitable for broadcast before the watershed, they installed a bucket as a swearbox… and filled it four times over

Ben Fogle also announced this month that he has ADHD. He was heading Into The Congo (Ch5) to stay with a tribe of hunter-gatherers, the Mbendjele.

The welcome he received was extraordinary. Someone evidently tipped off the Mbendjele that Ben was coming, because they met him on the rainforest path with songs and dancing that built in a deafening crescendo until, arriving at the village, he was overwhelmed by people in grass skirts beating drums and falling about with laughter.

Ben found the sheer joy of it so moving that he burst into tears. He was less joyful 12 hours later when the cacophony was still going on. As another Congo tourist, Simon Reeve, discovered on BBC2 earlier this year, the nomads of the Congo basin know how to party. ‘It’s almost like an ancient rave,’ Ben grumbled.

Just as Simon had, he watched in alarm as one tribesman shimmied 60ft up a tree to collect wild honey, with only a machete to cut footholds in the trunk. ‘That,’ marvelled Ben, ‘is what I’d call extreme beekeeping.’



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