ITV1′s three-part Monte Carlo or Bust takes three teams of British celebrities on a tour of France, tasking them with finding the guts (food), glory (victory) and genius (invention) of each stop.
Welsh comedian/actor and co-founder and EP of Modern Television, Griff Rhys Jones, came up with the series title and its outline, and ITV1 quickly came onboard to turn the idea into a primetime series.
‘It’s kind of a treasure hunt in lots of ways,’ says series producer Andrew Fettis. ‘The travelog focuses on the country itself, finding the smaller details. Most travelogs look at the big picture – here’s a resort, here’s a beach – where we’re looking at the microdetail.’
The cast is made up of comedians Julian Clary, Rory McGrath, Jack Dee and Ade Edmondson; model and TV personality Jodie Kidd and TV presenter Penny Smith. Fettis says they each fit the criteria of being able to think quickly on their feet.
‘A lot of people on television rely on a beautifully-written script, they read it and look great and that’s it. We wanted people who could deliver funny lines and think about France in a more in-depth way on-the-fly,’ says Fettis.
The teams were set up in pairs and let loose across France in a VW camper van, a Bentley convertible and a Mini Cooper, but difficulties arose in getting permissions to film. ‘Often you have to ask three times before you get a ‘yes’ and there are two very distinct ‘nos’ before then,’ remembers Fettis.
The October 29 premiere of Monte Carlo or Bust peaked at nearly four million viewers, Fettis reports, and if the other two episodes continue to bring in such numbers, the series could be formatted for other countries. He proposes that the format would keep the same or similar cast, and perhaps take them through Italy or Spain.