Thursday, 22 April 2010

On the buses

If you've never seen Channel 4's Coach Trip you're missing a treat. Like a weird cross between Come Dine With Me and Airport, the show fills a bus with mismatched miscreants and shuffles them around Europe, accompanied by the campest holiday professional since Jeremy Spake hung up his ball-gag.

At the end of each ruthlessly stage-managed excursion, the bitterly resentful holiday-makers vote for the couple who got up their nose the most. Once a couple has received the most votes twice in a row, they're left at the side of the road with their Matalan luggage and sunburnt shoulders as the bus heads over the horizon.

The couples tend to be cast according to easy stereotypes - shrieking gays, shag-happy lads, father-son combos, "we're crazy, we are" older couples, and constantly tutting middle-Englanders. It's an unpleasant soup that makes three years chained to a radiator in Beirut seem like a more preferable holiday option.

You'd think that most contestants would be glad to get off the coach, but two recent participants are finding the aftermath even more intolerable than a sightseeing trip around the south of France just inches from a chemical toilet.

Nathan Evans and the hilariously named Romane Hole have been mischaracterised as gay following their appearance on the show. The two men thought it would be funny to hold hands when they first got onto the coach, and were surprised to find that they were subsequently depicted as a couple.

Evans told the Bristol news "We had no idea how gay we were going to look by holding hands. Then all the way through the series [it] seem to have been edited to make us look as if we are a homosexual couple, rather than a pair of straight friends."

Since the shows aired, Evans and Hole (stop it) have suffered all manner of homophobic abuse, ranging from verbal attacks to thrown bottles. The flipside is that the boys have also won a few fans in the gay community - Hole maintains "We have also become sort of gay icons. I’ve been inundated by homosexual men who have contacted me via Facebook, to ask for casual sex and to make other indecent proposals."

The boys may argue that they have "nothing against gay people" but their actions and comments suggest otherwise. The fact that they are now experiencing the sharp end of homophobia has a poetic justice to it.

In the 1982 big-screen adaptation of The Twilight Zone, tragic actor Vic Morrow (who was killed in an on-set accident during filming) played a racist businessman who found himself trapped in a time warp where he had to relive the experiences of Jews and blacks. Maybe the twist in that story's tale wasn't so far-fetched after all...

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