Catching cane toads, peeling prawns, giant airborne target practice – and that's just episode one. The Amazing Race is back, and this time it will take part entirely in our backyard. 14 teams will step up to the plate and battle it out for a $250,000 prize, competing in exhilarating and heart-stopping challenges all around Australia.
We caught up with the Race's loveable host Beau Ryan to talk death-defying stunts, filming during COVID, and how at the end of the day, Beau makes the rules (even if contestants completely disagree).
MTV Australia: Hey Beau! We're so pumped for the new season of The Amazing Race. Take us back to when you first got the call to host last season – how did you feel?
Beau: I was rapt. I mean, I'd come across from being at Channel Nine, had a lot of fun there, and wanted to do more outside of Rugby League. I was offered a few shows, but then when I sat down with Channel 10 a few years ago, and they pitched this show to me, I just knew that it was the one. I was thinking about how I'd get to go and have some fun. You know, I love to travel. I like to be out in the world and feel fit and strong, so I thought it was crazy.
MTV: Had you watched the show before joining as its leading man?
Beau: Yeah! I've always been a fan of the show, I've always known the craziness. Before, the hosting gig was all stand and deliver – not really what I was aiming for. I told 10 maybe they'd be better off with someone else, but they said, 'no, we want you to make it your own, we want you to be a multi-challenger'! I just wanted to give the show a lot of context and respect.
MTV: So that's when you decided as a host you'd participate in all of the challenges! What's been the most intense challenge you've done?
Beau: This year, we had to window wash in Tasmania off the West Point Hotel Casino, which is 75 metres or so high. You know the way you see it in the movies when you're standing on a scaffold? You're quite restrained and that's all I had – basically just a swingset. I had to come down slowly and wash the windows, while I 100% thought I was going to die.
MTV: That's so crazy, how far do you go for a job when you think you're about to die?
Beau: I'll do whatever it takes, but there were jobs that I was looking down at a drop of 60 feet. You'll just have to watch and find out.
MTV: We absolutely will. So what's unique about this season of the Race? There's going to be a huge Australian focus as it's all shot in our backyard, but what else stands out about this season?
Beau: We had to introduce challenges that were a bit different; some physically harder, some mentally harder. We also have new rules, where teams are rewarded by being able to give out a 'Salvage', which gives another team a massive advantage, or a 'Sabotage', which gives another team a massive disadvantage.
Plus we've got U-Turns, which are always crazy, I love a U-Turn. A U-Turn forces an alliance, which means you've got to be smart. You get torn whether you U-Turn a team that's a threat, even if they're your best friends on the show. Or you can U-Turn a team just because you don't like them. A lot of the teams that competed this year really knew the rules of the show.
I remember this one time in Tasmania, where one team was trying to explain how the penalties would work before I even handed them out, and look, I wouldn't be having any of that. So they'd be like 'no, no, we can't cop that penalty!' But I tried to explain to them that it's my show and that I make the rules sometimes. So I handed out more penalties, and the teams wanted to talk to the producers about how that can't happen. I had to remind them they weren't making the rules, just because they'd watched the American or Canadian version. So Channel 10 really threw me the keys, it was great.
It's just so different to other shows. It's very fast paced, and the reason why I'm so excited is this season really shows off our country. The challenges are good, the rules are good, production is great, but our country is just next level. We are the luckiest people in the world.
MTV: Logistically, filming The Amazing Race must be a massive task, but in the middle of a pandemic? How did you manage that?
Beau: Yeah, it was crazy. To start it, we had to quarantine in Far North Queensland, so COVID testing everyday, temperature testing. We had over 100 people in our 'bubble', and once we were all proven to be COVID-free, there was no way we could catch it, because with the hotel staff, there were no interactions. Once we got out and about, we visited places that hadn't had COVID – like zero cases!
Everything we could do, we did. We had risk assessment, [social] distancing when we could. Major cities were a bit different, we'd keep our distance.
MTV: What would you say is the ideal Amazing Race team? How should you pick your partner?
Beau: If I was going to do the show, I would do it with someone with strengths that I don't have. I would pair up with someone who has different strengths and different weaknesses to you. When you hit a 'Roadblock', where only one team member can perform [a challenge], you'll want someone with different strengths to you, so you're just playing percentages.
A lot of people that have had success are in teams that understand each other, and teams that work well together, whether it's a relationship, siblings, people who are married. People who can really solve problems together and have their pride take a bit of a hit sometimes.
MTV: Oh, absolutely. It wouldn't be easy being constantly filmed while competing in such hectic challenges.
Beau: These people are being filmed for 10 to 15 hours a day for two months, so at the start of the show, everyone wants to be someone on TV, and they're all putting on how they want to be reflected. But after three or four days, that all goes out the window and their true character comes out.
It's a real reality show – we don't tell people to say anything. Whatever people say, we just roll with it. The camera crews are allowed to work together when they gotta get on public transport or to work out where they're filming, but besides that, there's no producer with them on the road. What you see is what you get, that's the best thing – it's a real reality show.
Interview by Alice Griffin, editor of this very site. Catch her on Twitter at @_alicegriffin.
The Amazing Race continues at 7:30pm tonight on 10. Catch up on all the episodes at 10play.
Editor's Note: MTV and Network 10 are both subsidiaries of ViacomCBS.