BBC's Around The World In 80 Days branded a 'waste of money' for raising only fraction of the £1m it cost to make

By Paul Revoir
Last updated at 10:00 AM on 22nd October 2009

For BBC TV bosses it's another one of its ingenious celebrity TV challenges designed to raise money for one of its biggest charity shows Children In Need.

But having cost about £1million to make this year's Around The World In 80 Days, it is likely to raise a fraction of this in charitable donations, insiders claim.

Members of the public have already hit out at the series which kicked off last week as a pointless celebrity 'ego trip' and a complete 'waste of money'.

Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner is one of the celebrities taking part in the BBC charity fundraiser Around The World In 80 Days

Environmentalists have also attacked the show for the 'pointless carbon emissions' of sending the stars on an around-the-world 'jolly' using public cash.

The production is being funded by licence fee payer cash and any money raised from the project will be put into the Children In Need total.

The six-part series of hour long shows re-enacts the journeys of Phileas Fogg and Michael Palin, using six pairs of celebrity travellers.

Celebrities taking part include Frank Skinner, Lee Mack, Nick Hewer, Myleene Klass, Bill Turnbull, Jose Lawrence, John Barrowman and Shane Richie.

The full cast

The full cast: Matt Baker, Lee Mack, Julia Bradbury, Frank Skinner, Myleene Klass, John Barrowman, Nick Hewer, Saira Khan, Bill Turnbull, Louise Minchin, Josie Lawrence and Shane Richie

With one pair of celebrities per episode, they have to pass the baton in the form of a carpet bag on to the next couple who complete the following leg of the trip.

As part of the show, celebrities will be raising money for Children In Need, including bringing home curiosities they collect along the way.

These will be auctioned off in aid of the charity online. But there are no phone-lines for donating money when the programme is on air.

If the current series ends up costing more than is raised, this would not be the first time it has happened on Children In Need.

In 2007 charity series Celebrity Scissorhands cost £1million to make but only managed to raise a paltry £36,000.

Sources believe this year's show will suffer a similar fate despite decent ratings of 4.2million viewers on its first outing.

Lee Mack makes a new friend on the Hungarian Plains in the show; but the programmes worth has been questioned

Lee Mack makes a new friend on the Hungarian Plains in the show; but the programme's worth has been questioned

Viewers have also questioned the point of the global jaunt claiming it is derivative.

Others have pointed out that Michael Palin's seminal 80 days series has been repeated endlessly by the broadcaster.

One said on the BBC's message board: 'The whole point of a travel programme is new experiences, new places, new cultures. Seeing the world and its people and places. This just seems to be one long ego trip for the presenters.'

They added: 'They could have had the same self-centred conversations in a studio in Birmingham to the same effect. Why spend all that money sending them and a camera team across Europe.'

Another said: 'This is just some holiday trip for celebrities in the guise of charity.

'I would be interested in knowing exactly what the amount is used in producing this programme and how much money is raised in direct sales of those items they auction off. Trading standards please.'

Others criticised the environmental aspects of the show, saying it was irresponsible to have made the trip.

One said: 'What a disgraceful waste of licence money sending these C-list celebs on a jolly at our expense and racking up a huge carbon footprint to boot!

A BBC spokesman said:  'In addition to raising money for Children In Need, Around The World In Eighty Days is raising crucial awareness for the charity in the run-up to Children In Need Night on November 20th.

'Around The World In Eighty Days is a prime time factual entertainment programme for BBC One and its budget is in line with other similar prime time shows on the Channel.'


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Further example of the BBCs lack of management. It is really time to change the Director-General and "The Trust" (rather incorrectly named). If these so called celebrities were really into it for charity they would have gone off with a simple video camera each paying their own expenses. As for the two idiots who, this week, gave up their passports to an unknown person beggars belief.

Click to rate     Rating   32

I was looking forward to seeing all the places they went to, but most of the time it was just these celebrities yabbering on about themselves and each other.

I didn't even finish the first episode.

What a pointless waste of time and money.

Click to rate     Rating   42

I think they could have donated the money for their travel expenses themselves. I did wonder at the time why they BBC would be forking out for this when they could just save it for Children in Need.

Click to rate     Rating   33

Comic Relief, Sports Relief, Children in Need, Live Aid, Live 8 etc.., are purely publicity machines for 2 bit celebrities. It is guaranteed that within a few weeks of Comic Relief, Lenny Henry has his own show on BBC. Why, oh why, do News Readers always have to be in on the act also???

Click to rate     Rating   22

Are we really supposed to believe that these 'slebs' are marooned on a dockside with no outside help? There will have been a team of 'clipboard minions' making arrangements whilst the 'slebs' will have been ensconced in 5-star hotels... These shows will only serve to convince me NEVER to donate to TV charities...

Click to rate     Rating   32

Its entertaining enough,but you do feel that these "Celebrities" are having it off royally with our license fee money.

Click to rate     Rating   15

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