Lisa Kelly, Rick Yemm and Alex Debogorski of The History Channel’s ‘Ice Road Truckers’ fame are leaving the frozen Alaskan tundra of the Dalton Highway for the gut-wrenching trucking action of the Himalayan Mountains on a new reality TV spin-off, ‘IRT: Deadliest Roads’, which premiered yesterday in the US. The basic idea of “IRT: Deadliest Roads” is to take the best Ice Road Truckers and drop them into trucking assignments on the world’s most deadly roads.
In the premiere, the three ice road truckers are transplanted from the treacherous roads of Alaska to the insanely chaotic roads of India.
Alex, Lisa and Rick are given the assignment of delivering several tons of cement to an Indian dam-building project from the streets of Delhi. The route they must follow is part of the Silk Road trade routes that connected Central Asia to South Asia. They must traverse a route through the Himalayas and features such sections as the “Freefall Freeway,” where the trucks run alongside the mountain with a 700 feet cliff just inches away on the other side. Then there’s “The Cutouts” – a section of road that has been cleared by blasting away just enough of the mountain to allow one vehicle at a time to pass through, with a clearance of barely inches. Finally, there’s a series of a switchbacks – and the “Breakaway Bend,” where potholes are the least of the truckers’ worries – the road is actually crumbling and could actually give way under their wheels at any moment. But first, the truckers have to get out of Delhi, a city of 19 million – none of whom seem to know anything about any rules of the road.
Each trucker is assigned a spotter to help them navigate the route. The spotters speak little or no English, but know the roads of India as well as the truckers know those of their own countries. They can be the difference between being lynched getting out of India, or maneuvering across a bridge that is falling apart.
The vast majority of reality TV is anything but real – it’s edited into storylines that take reality and turn it into fiction. And most reality TV is exploitative in nature.
The “IRT: Deadliest Roads” premiere doesn’t resort to editing tricks or manufactured plotlines to get an audience’s attention. The scenes can be truly frightening. The fear in Lisa’s eyes; the frustration that Alex endures while attempting to just get out of Delhi; Rick’s creative cussing as he faces the perils of both the roads and the craziness of Indian drivers (which doesn’t abate once they’re on the treacherous mountain roads) will be more than enough to hook the audience.
Between the scenery, the danger and the drivers, the premiere of “IRT: Deadliest Roads”is riveting stuff. It towers above most reality TV because it is that rarest of rarities in the world of reality TV – real.
29-year-old Lisa Kelly has gained her own level of celebrity status from her role as the female truck driver in “Ice Road Truckers.” She is married and when not on the road, she lives in Wasilla, Alaska. She has carved her career in what is traditionally a man’s world, and has to reprove her abilities daily. What a woman!
Kelly’s achievement is a great lesson to all women in the world. Whatever your career choice, with hard work, temerity, persistence and passion, you can be anything you want. It’s really all up to you!