Essentially an “alternative” travel show, “Rough Guide” is flip and fun, an MTV-style PBS show aimed at trendy young adults. The show was a huge hit in Britain; stylish and dynamic, it is also sure to work with American audiences — though an appreciation for British humor is essential.
Made by the BBC, show originally was part of the U.K. TV series, “DEF 2,” which was a collection of shows on current affairs, music, fashion and other elements of contempo popular culture, devised by the ingenious, often controversial producer, Janet Street Porter.
The eight-part “Guide” transports the viewer to some vacation spots around the world, highlighting politics, traditions, music, culture, etc., in order to seek out the essence of each destination.
In the premiere episode, “Guide” goes Down Under, taking in 2,965 camera miles, from Cairns, North Queensland, on to the Outback, across the Tropic of Capricorn to Longreach and ending up in Melbourne.
The episode takes in the Great Barrier Reef, looking at eco-tourism as a way to promote without polluting; looks at increasing Japanese immigrants to Cairns; and visits an Outback farming college.
The controversial sport of Kangaroo hunting is investigated and some unique Aboriginal art studied; in Melbourne one of the segs features a bizarre tour of the city’s sewers.
Show features British hosts Magenta De Vine, Sanka Guhu and Rajan Datar.
In stark Brit-style humor, they blend trivia facts and figures with interviews, in a most interesting way. De Vine is adorned entirely in black throughout and, failing to remove her trademark sunglasses even when inside or at night, can be a little annoying. All three hosts have strong backgrounds in reporting and do well representing an inquiring, educated MTV generation, as tour guides.
The production and presentation are exciting and enticing, with quick cuts accompanied by energetic music.
Interspersed between narration and interviews are on-screen subtitles offering some mind-boggling trivia.
In future episodes, “Rough Guide” viewers get a whirlwind tour of Sicily, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Hawaii, Greece, Zimbabwe and New Zealand.