The Weekend's Viewing: The World’s Most Dangerous Roads, Sun, BBC2
Engineering Giants: Jumbo Jet Strip-Down, Sun, BBC2

 

The World's Most Dangerous Roads might be the most quintessential Sunday evening programme ever made.

It ought to feature subtitles warning you to concentrate on your ironing. The format is, essentially, a Top Gear special given a Clarksonectomy. But rather than the three denimistas, here two comics are tasked with driving down a famously tricky route. Last week, Ed Byrne and Andy Parsons took a trip across Siberia in conditions so cold that they were told never to turn off their car engine, lest the Nissan's innards freeze.

Last night, Liza Tarbuck and Sue Perkins parachuted into central Vietnam and were told to make like Dean Moriarty down the Ho Chi Minh trail, across into Laos and back into Vietnam. The dangers in Vietnam mainly consisted of avoiding scooters. Once in Laos though, the route began to live up to the programme's name. It was full of trees marked with red ("and you're dead") markings. These indicated that the immediate area was likely to feature unexploded bombs, dropped by the US Air Force during the Vietnam war.

The secret mission – designed to stop Communist incursions from North Vietnam – is thought to have been the heaviest bombing campaign (per person) in history and, as such, Laos is absolutely riddled with unexploded bombs, which in the words of one disposal expert the women met, "could vaporise you". It's why US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in the country just last Wednesday and why campaign groups want the US to up its $9m annual spend on bomb clearance.

Perky and Tarby's initial giggles soon disappeared when confronted with this. En route to the South China Sea, they visited a temple dedicated to women killed looking for the bombs, met villagers earning 20p for every kilo of scrap metal (often cluster-bomb parts) and went to a road-building project where the area has to be first swept of bombs. "I'm not Ross Kemp," declared Liza, wisely, when offered a tour. It's certainly a way to tighten the concentration when it comes to not nudging the red trees in a 12-point turn, anyway.

And of course it's these stories that make TWMDR interesting. Not that it's boring to watch the pair of them struggle to drive through a rugged Laotian river. But what would make the show infinitely more watchable would be to put – rather than chummy stand-ups – a real couple behind the wheel. Imagine the tension of a family trip to Broadstairs mixed with the peril of a driving through a minefield. TV Gold.

Many of the bombs that still pepper Laos were dropped by Boeing aeroplanes like the B-52, which was responsible for more than 15,000 tons of ordnance being dropped on the region. Presumably, some of the money Boeing made from supplying the USAF was ploughed into the development of the 747, which first took off in 1969. Engineering Giants: Jumbo Jet Strip-Down takes Boeing's famous passenger jet to pieces. Not just out of curiosity, but due to a six-yearly BA maintenance programme that involves engineers taking all 181,000 kilograms of the beast apart to make sure all is tickety-boo. The task takes place in a huge, specially designed hangar in Wales that could only be measured in double-decker buses and football pitches. As the wheels come off, presenters Rob Bell and Tom Wrigglesworth coo at the wonders of the 747 as its bits, including an old bog and the cable and pulley system that controls the landing gear(!) are exposed for engineers to check on.

If Dangerous Roads was a transplanted Top Gear, Engineering Giants is a less captivating, but completely affable non-organic version of Channel 4's Inside Nature's Giants. And frankly, I'll take a dismantled aeroplane toilet over a dismantled elephant's colon any day.

twitter.com/willydean

The World's Most Dangerous Roads Sun BBC2 Engineering Giants: Jumbo Jet Strip-Down Sun BBC2

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea