Exclusive: Comedian Rhod Gilbert on driving killer roads
TV funny man Rhod Gilbert has spoken exclusively to Autoblog about his brush with death on one of the world's most dangerous roads.
The Welsh comic and his trusty accomplice Greg Davies (of Inbetweeners Mr Gilbert fame), challenged to drive through Nepal for BBC2's World's Most Dangerous Roads series, enjoyed a few scrapes on the lethal roads and nearly came to a sticky end because of a landslide.
Autoblog: Nepal eh? Sounds like quite a long way from the Welsh valleys. Instead of the sheep and speed camera hazards back home, what did the roads there throw at you?
Rhod Gilbert: Mostly landslides and motorbikes with 20 chickens hanging off the sides, pigs, wild dogs, oh and buses with 700 people on board – mostly driven by four-year-olds.
You travelled with Greg Davies. Did you get into any Inbetweeners-style scrapes on your travels?
We are best mates, so we had a great time. Hopefully that relationship will come across on camera. We were laughing pretty much from start to finish, in between landslides... but a lot of the laughs we were having in the car will no doubt be edited out as they weren't really appropriate for a BBC audience.
What did you drive? I take it you weren't in a battered yellow Fiat?
We had a Nissan Patrol. Other 4x4s are available. It was awesome. I had no experience of driving a 4x4 before and was just blown away by it. I know Clarkson has tried to kill these kinds of vehicles before and struggled and now I can see why.
Are you a bit of a car man or do you prefer to take the bus?
I do try to take public transport as much as I can, but often there are just no buses leaving comedy clubs and theatres at half eleven on a Tuesday night so I need to drive. I drive like a 90-year-old... carefully that is, not badly.
What was your first car? Anything interesting?
No. A Nissan Micra 988cc. It went like a one-litre though. My tom cat sprayed stuff in there once on the way to get done at the vets and that was the last time anybody asked for a lift for two years
I take it you're on the road a lot being a comedian and all that – do you drive yourself and how do you keep yourself amused?
I don't drive myself when I'm on tour. I have a driver called Rick, who is very much part of my team now. For most other things, I drive myself. I'm a dreamer so never have to amuse myself. I don't tell myself my own jokes, if that's what you think.
Being from Wales, it's hard to ignore rallying - are you a bit of a fan or do you give motorsport a miss?
It's hard to ignore, but not impossible. I've managed it. It's not for me. I went to a grand prix Formula One thing once and was bored out of my mind. It's like watching football but where the players run past with the ball every 20 minutes.
In Nepal, did you encounter anything interesting?
We stumbled into a cremation at the side of a river, which was interesting and thought provoking. Travelling through developing countries is always an eye-opener and makes you question everything you have and what it amounts to in a more spiritual way. People with nothing always appear happier.
We like a good road trip here at Autoblog. Hobnobs, Red Bull and Skips normally keep us going - what snacks kept you alive?
In the day we could not really eat anything other than packet snacks as the roadside fried stuff looked like it would have caused severe stomach problems. So all we had for 10 days was bottles of Coke, sweets, weird Indian chocolate versions of things like Dairy Milk and crisps. I don't really eat any of those things so by the end my man t*ts (moobs) were enormous. I looked like Greg by the end of it, while he looked like he'd eaten a really overweight hippo.
And what was playing on the stereo? iPod classics or were you forced to listen to some Nepalese local radio?
We were mic'ed up and had cameras on us the whole time so we couldn't have the radio on. We could not really even have the air con on so the only sound in the car was of Greg sweating. If you're wondering what him sweating sounds like, imagine the noisiest river you've ever heard and double it.
Right, moving on quickly. Money no object, what car do you buy and why?
An Aston Martin. If other people were no object, I'd have a 4x4, but I couldn't bring myself to buy one while there are other people and kids on the road.
Was there a back up helicopter waiting to chopper you out should things get messy or some ex-SAS butch-a-likes riding behind in a Humvee?
There was just the film crew, but they were insane enough and experienced enough to sort things out if we ran into any life threatening situations. I didn't see any SAS types but I guess that's the SAS for you... I relied on the fact that if we stumbled on cannibals, they'd eat Greg first and they'd be so full by the time they'd finished that they'd have no room for me.
And finally, what's the lasting memory of the trip that'll flash before your eyes when you finally meet your maker?
Greg and I running through a landslide, hoping that the entire mountainside didn't disappear three hundred metres down into the river with us on it.
You can see the road trip on BBC2 on 11 September 11 at 9pm. Meanwhile, enjoy Rhod talking about the land of his fathers in the video below.