Along For the Ride with David O’Doherty is a gentle gambol of a travel series which is guaranteed to give you a few laughs.
REVIEW: In the same vein and tone as the series of shows that put Dara Ó Briain, Rory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones in a boat, Along For the Ride with David O’Doherty (which begins screening on TVNZ’s Duke tonight, Sunday, July 3, at 8.30pm) is a gentle gambol of a travel series which is guaranteed to give you a few laughs.
The amiable, avuncular Irish comedian, best known for his keyboard playing skills and humorous songs on the likes of 8 Out of the 10 Cats Does Countdown and Richard Osman’s House of Games is joined on a cycle through the British countryside for each episode of this four-part series by a celebrity acquaintance.
Former Bake Off host Mel Giedroyc takes on Northumberland, artist Grayson Perry tackles Brecon Beacons, comedian Joe Wilkinson suffers through Suffolk and, in the opening episode, one-time Travel Man Richard Ayoade deigns to mount his metal steed for a trundle through the Kentish countryside to Dungeness.
Along for the Ride with David O’Doherty begins screening on Duke tonight (Sunday) at 8.30pm
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But while the landscape is very Country Life and the historical tales of the authorities’ fear that Napoleon and Hitler would invade through Romney Marsh intrigue, it’s the bickering and banter we’re here for. And this dynamic duo do not disappoint.
After opening with a spot of Irish poetry, “I think it was Keating who once said, ‘life is a rollercoaster, you’ve just gotta ride it’”, O’Doherty admits his co-rider “can be aloof, distant – but two days on the road will thaw out this ice prince”.
For his part, Ayoade, with his self-confessed “legs straight from Central Casting”, looks both primed and unperturbed for the approximately 40 miles ahead.
Richard and David engage in one of the age-old debates in the first episode of Along for the Ride.
“I don’t do anything for pure pleasure,” he snaps, before chiding O’Doherty that his “signalling game is loose”. After a quick retort from the host that the gears his guest is choosing to ride with are “pure bananas”, the pair settle into their stride, covering the ground and topics ranging from blood doping to The Apprentice UK, roadside berries and the scourge of glamping (“it’s gone from an affection to a necessity,” Ayoade laments) without breaking sweat.
While an argument ensues about whether they really are going “off-grid” via their travels (“we’re on a network of roads, it’s literally a grid,” Ayoade asserts), O’Doherty eventually manages to get his riding partner to open up about his suburban Suffolk childhood, his Norwegian mother’s chocolate shop and cricket captaincy style. By the time they’ve stopped for a village café treat, O’Doherty is more than happy to reveal his prejudice against jam. “I’m against cooked fruit,” he tells their stunned server. “He can hear the blackberries scream,” Ayoade quickly proffers as explanation.
And it’s that sharp wit, observational humour and relaxed back and forth that drives this delightful show. The conversations move up a gear during their overnight stay, as do their antics.
If you’ve ever wanted to hear what Toto’s Africa sounds like on a Melody Pop, or what Dame Kiri Te Kanawa might sound like immediately after a night in a tent, then this is the programme for you.
Along for the Ride with David O’Doherty debuts on TVNZ’s Duke Channel at 8.30pm tonight (Sunday, July 3). Episodes will also be available to stream on TVNZ+.