Almost anywhere you travel around the world, there is no hiding from the upward inflection of an Australian accent when you hear it.
Now there is a whole series devoted to it, thanks to Nine’s very own Travel Guides.
The polar opposite of Getaway, this is no-frills TV that unashamedly puts strine reactions ahead of travel tips. It’s Gogglebox meets Kath & Kim abroad -yet it’s surprisingly entertaining. Put that down to it unsophisticated concept and bull’s-eye casting.
There are six groups of Aussie travellers here, all of whom experience the same city abroad, but never their paths shall meet….
There’s Kevin & Janetta, a posh middle-aged couple; two rodeo cowgirls who have never set foot outside the country, Stack & Mel; three tanned blonde flight attendants Chrissy, Mon & Kath; Aussie-Lebanese family the Rifais; chilled backpackers Matt and Monni; and a Newcastle family of 4, the Frens (pictured).
Episode 1 is a visit to Tokyo, staying at Meguro Gajoen, cleverly chosen by producers because it fuses traditional Japanese customs with modern Tokyo. Challenges begin at the reception desk.
“They’ve probably never met anyone like your father before,” Mrs. Fren warns her kids. Priceless.
There are plenty of laughs when encountering the electronic bidet, but not so many when our guides learn they have to sleep on the floor, and fewer still when battling a traditional Japanese breakfast. No Coco Pops in sight, sorry.
A “tsunami of people” (ouch!) in the streets of Tokyo overwhelms some of our Guides along with the language barrier.
The cowgirls are constantly heard lamenting that they don’t speak Chinese. Seriously.
The hour whisks them through a range of wild and colourful experiences that only Japan can offer: a Hanami Blossom Festival where the locals mostly get drunk, eating street food in Ginza (some have never used chop sticks), a night of (very) bad Karaoke, and a visit to Takashita Street where Hello Kitty meets Anime, Pokemon, wild costumes and kooky fads.
One of the most “foreign’ experiences is a visit to Oodeo Onsen bathhouse, where everyone gets naked in hot springs, including our fathers with sons, mothers with daughters, and plenty of bare Japanese bums.
“What happens in the barrel, stays in the barrel,” warns one of our flight attendants, whilst the cowgirls decide, “That was random” and another concludes, “Onsen is Japanese for total waste of time.”
This is a series built around the concept of lost in translation. There are moments when even the toughest critic is surprised by new horizons, and plenty more where they are like your embarrassing dad. But if I’m honest, I did laugh out loud at some moments and cringe at others. It’s that kinda show.
It’s a little on the long side, and I would give no credence to the 5 star scores they give at the end. But this is an easy watch that shoots for a very broad audience, narrated by Denise Scott (and who doesn’t love her?). Families like the Frens will win fans quickly, much like Gogglebox‘s Anastasia or Tom.
Pop the champers and remain seated, Travel Guides, is ready for a bumpy ride.
Travel Guides premieres 9pm tonight on Nine.