The West

Let the race begin
Let the race begin

As host of the high-stakes reality series The Amazing Race, Phil Keoghan has seen more of the world than most viewers ever will and has a box of about 20 used passports to show for it.

In 21 seasons of globetrotting Keoghan has witnessed bickering contestants, havoc caused by late or missed flights, pandemonium erupting from taxi drivers getting lost and the tears of those eliminated for arriving last on the mat.

But there's one thing Keoghan would like to see again and it's cheese. The season 14 challenge where 90kg rounds of Swiss cheese rolled out of control towards people and houses has been a viewer and YouTube hit, so a reprise in a future season is not out of the question, especially with another old favourite returning this season.

"We will be getting to Moscow, a country in Africa, another new country in Europe," says Keoghan of the remaining destinations for season 21, which has already seen teams pass through China, Indonesia and Bangladesh, with action due to move to Turkey in tonight's fast-tracked episode.

"I can tell you this season we will be revisiting a country in Europe and having a switchback of a popular European challenge of the past. It's definitely going to make a lot of people happy.

"With regards to the cheese; it is not actually the cheese but absolutely we have to get back at some point and do the cheese because that is up there in the top five. That is definitely an all-time favourite."

The stakes are higher than ever this season with the $1 million first prize set to double if the team that won the first leg, Abbie and Ryan, also win the last leg.

Another team everyone is talking about this season are Sri Lankan twins Natalie an Nadiya. "They finish each other's sentence, they are hysterical, they drive some of the other teams crazy," Keoghan says.

"They are one of those teams that really polarise the audience; people either absolutely love them or they get driven crazy by them because of the way they keep saying 'twinnies' all the time and finishing each other's sentences."

Contestants in The Amazing Race are tested by a range of physical and mental challenges from rappelling down a Pasadena bridge and eating the Chinese delicacy hasma (the fatty tissue found near frog fallopian tubes) in the season opener, to the rat catching assignment in Bangladesh.

Is there anything Keoghan wouldn't or couldn't do if challenged? "For me personally there is nothing there I wouldn't do; there are lots of things I'd prefer not to do," he says. "I am not a fan of eating weird crazy food. So I wouldn't choose to eat frogs' fallopian tubes. That said, if you told me I had a chance to win $1 million if I ate something I could probably muster up the energy to do it.

"That's one thing I like about Race is we tend to focus on food people actually do eat, we don't just have people eating things for the sake of eating, they are eating delicacies from a particular place."

Another thing Keoghan loves about the show is it is filmed in the real world with limited control of how events unfold.

"When they randomly come into contact with a taxi driver, suddenly that taxi driver is in a way dictating what the content is," he says. "This guy is suddenly a part of our creative process and out of that come these crazy cab rides where people have quite literally lost $1 million."

The Amazing Race picked up another Emmy award this year for outstanding reality program and Keoghan is ready to pack his bags to have season 22 filmed by the end of the year. After that, it's a well-deserved break with his family back in his native New Zealand for Christmas.

The Amazing Race airs today at 11pm on Seven/GWN7.

The West Australian

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