The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every Hollywood production in 2020, and only in recent weeks have some shows found a way to resume production on new seasons. How does that work for a show like Amazing Race, which pits teams of two against each other as they travel the world and compete in challenges?
The series was in the middle of shooting Season 33 when COVID-19 forced everyone to return home and practice social distancing. As a result, Season 32, which was filmed in 2018 and was originally slated to air in the spring, was delayed until fall. Season 32 will premiere on Wednesday, Oct. 14, finally giving Amazing Race fans new episodes after months and months of waiting. Series host Phil Keoghan said he believes that the fans are ready to welcome the show back into their lives and will welcome some escapism, even if they are still stuck in their homes and waiting for the world to return to normal.
Ahead of the season, Keoghan told TV Guide that the new episodes of Amazing Race will feel like older, simpler seasons. There’s no big twist or gimmick for Season 32; it’s just teams traveling the world and trying to win challenges — something that fans have demanded and that should be a comfort in these trying times. Check out what else Keoghan had to say about the new episodes and when Amazing Race might be back up and running for Season 33.
This season of The Amazing Race is premiering when a lot of people are still stuck at home and unable to travel. What are you hoping fans get out of watching the series during a pandemic?
Phil Keoghan: Escapism, just a relief of [getting] out of the house vicariously. Sit in their most comfortable chair and get to travel in a world that they can’t right now.
The season was filmed a good while before the pandemic happened. Did anything have to be edited to make 2018 feel more like 2020?
Keoghan: Our shows are very evergreen, so we don’t timestamp stuff in the show. There wasn’t anything that needed to be adjusted. The hard part has just been waiting. I really felt for the cast. This is something they did quite some time ago, and they’re really itching for the world to see it. So that is always tough to ask people to wait, and then our fans who have been incredibly patient. Thankfully, they now get to see the show that they’ve missed.
You’ve said in previous interviews that this was the most challenging season for you physically. Why was that?
Keoghan: If you look at the the cast, you can see that there are very physical cast. I think fans were keen for us to get back to the fundamental elements of the show: teams of two traveling to new places, doing new and different things…I think what the audience was saying to us [was], “You can twist and turn and add, and do all of these promotable things all you like, but at the end of the day, we’d love teams of two traveling around the world going to new in different places. So just give us that.” That’s really what [Season] 32 was about, [returning to basics].
What are you most excited for fans to see in Season 32?
Keoghan: People have been binge-watching Amazing Race. A lot of people have been bingeing, a lot of people have caught up. The idea that we have something new and different and fresh for them, like a new season is really exciting. I’m just really excited for something new and different to be out. It’s the escapism…We need to see the world is the way that it was, the way that it will be when we get through this. This season is for me, and we didn’t know it at the time, but this season is about back to basics. It’s about escapism. This is about giving people a chance to just travel the world and not be worried about all the things that everybody is so worried about today.
You were in the process of filming Season 33 when production was shut down. Do you think you can resume where you left off, or will you have to start over?
Keoghan: That would be the intention, to just pick it up. There’s a lot of things that will have to go into that. A lot of thought will have to go into that, but that, to me, would be the best way forward.
Is there a COVID-friendly way to shoot this show, or will you have to wait until there’s a vaccine widely available to really do this show again?
Keoghan: I don’t know what the future holds, whether it’s the vaccine that will bring this under control, or whether it’s us collectively making some sacrifices to have to bring it under control. I don’t know…If you do a studio show, you can have green zones and red zones, and you can make sure that everybody follows a particular procedure, and you can separate people, and you can do all of these things. It’s much easier to create a COVID compliant location, but our studio is the world. We can be tens of thousands of miles away from home. You can’t just apply a COVID plan to that…We are more affected by this situation than other shows, which is again, part of what makes it special, what makes it new and different, but also, what makes it more challenging to shoot. And if we were to put restrictions on the way we shot it, it just wouldn’t be the race that we all know and love.
The Amazing Race airs Wednesdays at 9//8c on CBS.