Welcome to the third year of the You Are Team Number podcast. Two years ago, four people from the four corners of the Earth (well, the UK, Canada, Australia and Malaysia) launched a podcast that aimed to give a more irreverent take on each Amazing Race episode. Twenty-four months and over one hundred podcasts later, we have reached this point. But how did we get here?
It began, as all good things do, with an idea. Inspired by the podcast from the Previously on Survivor Facebook group and the infamous Survivor Historians podcast, Logan came to the group with an idea – Why doesn’t someone create an Amazing Race podcast that represents the truly global nature of The Amazing Race? Like a well-oiled jigsaw, it all came together, and one year ago today, Eamon, Logan, Michelle and I joined forces for the first-ever YATNcast. Of course, in completely typical fashion for me, it was not all plain sailing. Firstly, because of the weird set-up I had to use on the first episode, you couldn’t hear me. Secondly, we ended up talking for over three hours, which is all well and good, but at least two hours of that was not even Amazing Race related! We finished the show shattered (in the case of my back and Logan, who finished the show at 5.30am his time), our batteries drained (literally in the case of Eamon, who was actually on his phone in the car park of his workplace for the hour he could manage) but knowing the error of our ways having ironed out the problems that befell us.
2014 opened with a change of plans – Michelle took a step back from the podcast, allowing the three of us to cover “All Stars?!” at a more reasonable hour of the day for us all – 3pm GMT/BST every Wednesday. The lack of Michelle meant that the off-topic nature that the three of us possess went completely unrestricted, leading to many discussions about the Mole, every Survivor season and everyone’s favourite recurring segment – Malaysian Asks – where Eamon asks the first question that comes into his head and ends up getting both an answer and a little bit of mockery.
Once “All Stars?!” had ended, we looked back on our first podcasting season fondly. Whilst the show that we were actually talking about wasn’t great, there was a lot to be proud about with our coverage. Logan was now so awake that no-one accidentally implied that Phil Keoghan was a racist. I had invested in a microphone stand that meant that I was actually audible. However, we were faced with a dilemma – two international seasons were both starting over the Summer at roughly the same time, and in order to give them both the attention that they needed, we needed to split up. Logan & I would cover Canada’s second season, whilst Eamon would cover Australia. This allowed us to bring back a familiar face – Michelle – to accompany Eamon, as well as a new face – Ben Powell – who would be the main host of the Australian podcasts.
Summer 2014 was a time of firsts – it was the first time that Eamon had been a part of the cast preview, it was the first time that Logan & I managed to stick to a regular timeslot and it was also the first time that any of us had actually met, when I flew to British Columbia as part of a late Summer holiday in September. The Canadian season also gave us the comedic stylings of Sukhi & Jinder – the funniest brother-sister pair ever seen on the Race, and also the title holders of “Most awkward use of the life drawing Fast Forward in Amazing Race history”. Without teams like Sukhi & Jinder, I don’t think the podcast would work this well for both us and the listeners – each Race needs at least one team to carry the comedy deep into the Race and give us and other fans something to talk about! On the Australian side, Ben was already proving himself to be a great addition to the podcast family, bringing out both the best and worst in Eamon & Michelle.
Coming out of the international seasons, a plan needed to be formed. Due to my holiday, I was going to be missing a podcast for the first time ever. Thankfully, Ben stepped into the breech and (ignoring a minor flub at the start) began the season’s coverage in a great way. With TAR moving to Fridays, we needed to move, and the best course of action was to move from 3pm Wednesdays to 3pm Sundays. This was great fun for Ben, given that 3pm for me is 2am for Ben. We were back to the problem of everything immature being hysterical and Logan and I learnt very quickly that Ben is a terrible influence on us. From his insistence upon getting me into trouble with Scotland so soon after they tried to abandon us, to finding the new Black Family in a screencap of Bill & Cathi from Season 19 bodybuilding to his already legendary impression of Bethany Hamilton, he has brought out the best and worst in the both of us. For the sake of Ben’s sanity, the podcast moved from 3pm to 11pm my time, which meant I was shattered for a few weeks, before finally moving to the new timeslot of 8pm GMT.
2014 ended with a Year in Review podcast where, for the first time ever, all five of us appeared on the same show. Beginning an annual tradition of recapping the last year’s shows one final time, we chatted about how awesome Sukhi & Jinder are (see above), how terrible “All Stars?!” was, and Ben & I traded impressions as Mark Jackson & Bethany Hamilton. We also gave our first big announcement of 2015 – our first foray into interviewing former Racers.
As our first victims, we chose Amazing Race Legends, Joe & Bill. This podcast was genuinely the most nervous I have ever been for any radio programme. If we messed this up, there was basically nowhere that we could take the podcast, and I would always have this nagging regret. However, after 98 minutes of recording, I was so proud with what we achieved.
March 2015 saw Ben & Michelle’s first interview, with Cat & Jesse from Amazing Race Australia vs New Zealand. Throughout the recording, I was sending them Facebook messages asking if everything was going alright, and after about two hours of radio silence, I began getting worried. Had they forgotten to press record? Was there an issue? As it turned out, there was an issue – I had to edit three and a half hours of audio. Thinking that I could probably get it down to an hour, I was reasonably confident that I could have the podcast uploaded reasonably quickly. However, once I began listening to the file on the way home, I was beyond shocked. I’m not just saying this because I’m friends with both of them, but that podcast is potentially the best Amazing Race interview I’ve ever heard. Even after the edit, it’s 163 minutes of pure behind-the-scenes gold. There wasn’t a single anecdote that I decided to cut out, not a single question that I wouldn’t have asked, not a single part of the interview that, as a fan, I wouldn’t have found interesting. I have genuinely told people when they’ve asked about the podcast this year that this episode is my favourite that we’ve ever put out, and I still stand by that.
The gap in Amazing Race 26’s airing also brought another development – we decided to switch over to audio-only podcasts for our recaps. It allows us greater flexibility with the discussions that we have, as well as better audio quality. 26 also brought the rise of Hayley as a force to be reckoned with, as well as our love of Mike & Rochelle and jokes about a certain blind date couple who transitioned over to Big Brother.
Logan, Ben & I also branched out into Big Brother Canada whilst we covered Amazing Race 26, launching the hashtag “ginjaninja” which Logan signs off with every week, talking about the rise of Queen B and Sarah and how our support in the Zach vs Peter Brown argument comes down to who we hate less. This was the first major diversion from Amazing Race coverage that any of us had taken (The Big Adventure…does not count), and was a source of much amusement, usually from Godfrey Mangwiza, Lady Pleaser.
Mike & Rochelle from Amazing Race 26 also joined us the week after the season ended to recap everything that happened and shed light on a few behind-the-scenes details that surprised us live on the programme, as well as discussing our mutual love of Nintendo, clowns and what it was like to be body-checked by a caballito.
Canada 3’s coverage saw the return of Michelle & Eamon to regular podcasting, and the launch of our first predictions pool. Canada 3’s cast had such potential, from the love-fest that is Nic & Sabrina to the first ever Racer that Logan had actually met – Elias Theodorou, but as they fell by the wayside, the rise of the VoldeMussolinis – Gino and Jesse – dampened our spirits somewhat.
And finally, to 27 – the season that launched a thousand jokes. As soon as the phrase “paddleboarding in my backyard canals” appeared in Logan & Chris’ biography, I knew that they would be stars, and they didn’t disappoint. 27 has been a season that was defined by Racer interaction – no season in recent memory has had a cast which is so close to each other, no season in recent memory has had a cast so willing to interact with us on the podcast. It’s always nice to have a season where I’m stuck with a choice between two or three potential banners (usually one of which features Denise’s reaction to something and one of which features Tiffany and/or Krista) for each week.
After 103 podcasts, over four days’ worth of audio and 192 contestants talked about, the You Are Team Number has reached the two-year mark. Who knows what Year 3 will bring?