wed 29/05/2024

Holiday Hijack, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

Holiday Hijack, Channel 4

Holiday Hijack, Channel 4

Part holiday prog, part reality, part lecture. All manipulative

'Holiday Hijack': Londoners wash away their sins in the Gambia

Dan, a tall ginger streak of entitlement, had an issue with the hygiene. Channel 4 were about to lift him out of a five-star hotel in the Gambia and send him off to see how the other half lives. “They’re not going to be as clean as us,” he predicted nervously. Dan worried that he might have to survive sans moisturiser and hair gel. He hadn’t been warned about the lack of cutlery. And of loo roll. Nor that you approached each problem with the same manual solution.

Who volunteers to make themselves look like utter tits for these films? Luxury-loving Londoners is who, said Tamsin Greig, slumming it on voiceover duties. (In C4’s factual department, they haven’t heard that alliteration is very non-U.) A quartet of gargoyles had been duped into going on a swanky African hol from which after only one night they would be teleported out of their comfort zone and forced to experience real life staying with a family in a house made of mud. Either that or we had been duped into believing they had been duped. Only a very thick person accepts a free holiday from a television crew without smelling one of the less popular rodents. Perhaps these people were indeed stupid. They were certainly edited to sound it, as well as vain, narrow-minded, boorish... sod it, you fill in the dots.

Dan spent the entire programme breaking down when ushered into the presence of potential contamination

"I love five-star luxury,” argued Louise, something fluffy in PR, freshly installed among the deep-pile white towels. “Or six, or seven.” You suspect she may have been making those last two up. Her mucker Natalie, consisting mostly of peroxide and silicon, was on the same page pampering-wise. “If everything’s not exactly the way I want it I will be demanding,” she warned sweetly. Alex, a tiny actress, had been cast as the person who didn’t have anything to say. And then there was Dan, a graduate (voiceover-speak for “unemployed”).

Dan spent the entire programme breaking down when ushered into the presence of potential contamination. Taken to a seaside fish market to muck in with the catch, he refused to wear protective shoes, or gloves, or carry a plastic bucket of fish on his head. “I don’t know where that’s been,” he argued. “If I haven’t seen that being cleaned I’m not putting that on my head.” Dan was clearly suffering from a form of OCD.

Holiday Hijack stations itself somewhere on the spectrum between reality TV with all the trimmings, a Day-Glo holiday magazine show and a finger-wagging ethical lecture. Not the most comfortable ménage à trois. The argument was that demanding First World comfort in Third World locations succeeds only in raping the local economy. To make its point it used the grammar of the life swap doc we’ve seen umpteen times before. (Actually not in my case: I take roughly the same position on spoilt Brits having their heartstrings tugged as Dan does on dirt.)

While the programme deplored one form of exploitation, it cheerfully exploited its participants to the hilt. By the end, with prop-your-eyes-open-with-matchsticks predictability, they were full of born-again righteousness about towel-laundry abuse and could have bathed in their own tears. A nicer side to brash personalities, carefully dumped onto the cutting-room floor thus far, was now revealed. And all thanks to the good offices of television's miracle-working moral taskforce. "They are better people than I could ever dream to be," advised the actress Alex of her lovely hosts, her Damascene conversion packed into one line of dialogue. You wish her better luck at her next audition.

I’d like to propose a reality TV series in which TV controllers are forced actually to sit and watch a rolling loop of the reality TV series they commission - starting with all three eps of Holiday Hijack - in the course of which they come to see the error of their polluting ways, weep a river of remorse for spewing out so much manipulative effluence with cakemix for brains and then maybe vow to be more respectful of the cultural environment. On the other hand, you get the TV controllers you deserve.


I would just like to point out that what right do you have to assume that I am unemployed? when this programme was fillmed, late 2010, I had just graduated and I am now successfully working within television. you can say as much as you like about myself in the show, but what you need to realise that it is just a TV show and we were being filmed constantly for 6days which had to be condensed in to a 45minute programme. You heard what Bella and Omar said about us all, if we were that awful you clearly don't respect their judgement do you, we must have done something right!

Thought it was a good idea, shows what happens behind the scenes of the Hotels, The people are living on less than a Dollar a Day, So all you stuck up people, have seen what you are doing, by not getting out of your Hotel, get out and about, see The Real Gambia. Slave trade has been stopped now, for a Long time so don't support it....!!!! Maybe some people will think differently when they see it, and alter their way's...

All these perfect people in the world that would love to stay in a mud hut or a shack with bugs crawling everywhere, with nothing to eat or drink.... I think i will write to Betty and suggest that all the people criticizing the cast should all be sent away to do the exact same thing and OBVIOUSLY they will handle it with no problems!!!! RIGHT? Surely by now you should know that things on TV aren't always as they seem.... a lot of things that were said are prompted by the crew but only and idiot would think that its all 100% real!!! I was a contestant on the show and it was amazing but one of the hardest things Ive ever had to do but wouldn't change it for the world! The loving conditions that some of these amazing people are living in are very different to what we(us Brits) are used to and it takes time to get used to. We weren't told what we were going to be doing or when we were going to be doing it so every reaction is a genuine shock!!! Bottom line is dont judge something you have never or will never experience! and if you ever do I would pay to see your reaction and love to slag you off after about the way you handled it!

I wonder if after experienceing such poverty & deprivation Have any of the holiday people started sponsoring any the children they met.

I have been visiting the Ganbia for 15 years and been able to help build three school blocks so that an entire village of Gambian children can recieve an education. Look up the tallinding project web site. and see what just two people can achieve.

Thanks John carter for the school block that generations will benefit from.May you always be remembered in thier prayers.Living in the uk for 17years now, i always remember to give back to those living in similar conditions like myself.i as fortunate to be sponsored through Action Aid hence my comforable life as ahealth proffessional now.If all only all Gambians abroad follow in you and countless other unsung heroes the world would be a much happier plce.

these guys were ignorant, ignorant, ignorant. If I was that Gambian family I would have never let them get past the 1st day in MY HOUSE. Shouldn't have allowed them in the country as they probably couldn't tell you where it is located on a map, may point to India or someplace. The fact that the ending made it look like they actually learnt something was offensive...they should be chastised for being such numpties and perhaps pitied. Matter fact it would have been a lot more fun to see them swelter in their dirt and starve as they felt the shower wasn't good enough or the food. Yeah that would have been good to watch. No assistance from the locals, just them and their bottles of piz buin or wateva that fake tan stuff is.

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters