What were you doing 18 years ago? These would be the days before Facebook and Twitter, and when TV was pretty much limited to what’s on is what’s on. For Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race, he was embarking on what would become one of the longest-running careers in reality TV history. As the race-around-the-world series begins its 31st season (Wednesday, April 17 9/8c) — yes, 31st season! — Keoghan shares with us what’s in store for the new season and why fans will be excited to see the show’s newest theme that pits former contestants of The Amazing Race, Big Brother and Survivor against one another.
“It’s been something that’s been suggested by CBS reality fans for a very long time,” Keoghan says. “As far as the pairings go, this really was the fans speaking to us, and us listening to the fans. There’s always been this sort of banter between fans about whether a Survivor team could beat out a Big Brother team or an Amazing Race team, and vice versa. So, it was just something we wanted to experiment with.”
Competing in a house where you’re loafing around completely shut off from the world or surviving on an island with little food and in harsh environments is considerably different from Race’s fast-paced, get-up-and-go competition, so Survivor and Big Brother alums better be prepared to lighten up on some of the strategizing and get moving.
“Being in a house compared to being on an island, and then suddenly this stage is the world,” Keoghan says, “it’s very interesting to see how people’s, I guess, maybe misconceptions or what they think Amazing Race is, and then, what the reality is for them because Big Brother, Survivor, they’re a lot more mind games going on whereas on Amazing Race, you’re not sitting and contemplating and strategizing as much. … It should be an interesting experiment, I think is how I would describe it.”
Last season, The Amazing Race saw a sizeable ratings spike, largely due to scheduling (Wednesday nights on CBS work!) and some refreshing additions to the show’s format (looks like the head-to-head challenge could be back!). In the end, however, it’s all about the cast.
“What you’re doing is you’re throwing interesting people into an interesting scenario. And those challenges that we put together, and what we’re asking them to do, that’s where the content comes from,” Keoghan says. “How do they deal with that situation, because they are essentially writing the script. What they say, how they react, is what we have as content to entertain people.”
This season some of the destinations racers will travel to include Japan, Uganda, Switzerland, Croatia, the Netherlands and England.
“You think about how much the world has changed in 18 years,” Keoghan concludes. “I can watch the show now and, in real time, converse with the fans about what they like and don’t like. I’m getting real-time feedback, and people are, as you know, they don’t hold back, especially on social media.”
There’s a lot to like about this season, including the unknown on who will ultimately end up with bragging rights.
Who’s racing on this year’s Amazing Race?
The Amazing Race
Colin Guinn and Christie Woods (Season 5, Second place)
Art Velez and John James “JJ” Carrell (Season 20, Second place)
Tyler Oakley and Korey Kuhl (Season 28, Third place)
Leo Temory and Jamal Zadran (Season 23, 24, Fourth place)
Becca Droz and Floyd Pierce (Season 29, Fifth place)
Victor Arroyo (Season 18) and Nicole Franzel (Seasons 16, 18)
Britney Haynes (Seasons 12, 14) and Janelle Pierzina (Seasons 6, 7, 14)
Rachel Reilly (Seasons 12, 13; Amazing Race Seasons 20, 24) and Elissa Slater (Season 15)
Rupert Boneham (Pearl Islands, All-Stars, Heroes vs. Villains, Blood vs. Water) and Laura Boneham (Blood vs. Water)
Chris Hammons and Bret LaBelle (Millennials vs. Gen X)
Corinne Kaplan (Gabon, Caramoan) and Eliza Orlins (Vanuatu, Micronesia)
The Amazing Race airs on CBS Wednesdays at 9/8c beginning April 17