Race Across the World hailed ‘best show on TV’ after tense finale

After eight episodes of travelling across countries with no flights or smartphones, Race Across the World has announced its winners.

Viewers branded the show the “best programme on TV by far” after an emotionally moving series culminated in a tense finale.

The Bafta-award winning series has been praised for its moving storylines addressing real issues that have left viewers in floods of tears, and the finale was no exception.

Friends Alfie and Owen were crowned winners after beating off tough competition from mother-daughter duo Eugenie and Isabel. They are the youngest people to ever win the show, with Alfie aged 20 and Owen aged 21.

The runners-up finished just eight minutes behind them in a final boat race to the finish line in the Indonesian island of Lombok.

Brother and sister Betty and James finished in third place – more than 24 hours and 34 minutes after the winner – while married couple Stephen and Viv finished in fourth place, 30 hours and 20 minutes after the winning time.

Contestants have been speeding across countries including Japan and South Korea, travelling over 15,000km over 50 days and crossing six seas and eight borders in the process.

The four pairs were forced to rely on their wits and resourcefulness as they made their way without the use of smartphones, internet access or bank cards, carrying only enough cash for airfare.

Owen and Alfie have been declared winners (Studio Lambert Ltd)
Owen and Alfie have been declared winners (Studio Lambert Ltd)

Upon realising that they had won, Owen declared: “We came, and we saw, and we succeeded.” His best friend Alfie added: “Best moment of our lives. Undeniably. Can’t believe it.”

With the final being so close, viewers felt the tension. “Me trying to go to sleep after that tense, heart racing last 10 minutes of the race,” joked one person.

The BBC series which is the broadcaster’s biggest factual title of the year to date, saw the first two episodes of the show amongst its top-rated episodes from any genre this year. Both episodes attracted 7.1 million viewers, an increase of a million from last year, according to the BBC.

“Race Across the World is television done right. Alfie is an absolute gem of a human, and the growth in the relationship between Betty and James has been so special. Truly well done to everyone involved,” said one fan on X/Twitter.

“Simply brilliant, best programme on TV by far. The rawness and tenderness of human emotion and the power and love of human relationship,” wrote another. “Alfie and Owen are worthy winners.”

Others praised the show for its “realness” adding, “I think this has to be one of the best things on TV. Real people, with real stories in a real world. It’s been another cracking series and strangely, I don’t care who wins. Much better and engaging than any celebrity road trip.”

The teams returned for a reunion which aired shortly after the finale on Wednesday (29 May). Both the finale and reunion are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.