Travels With My Family Review: Not Quite There Yet..

WONDERLAND – TRAVELS WITH MY FAMILY: Wednesday 8th June, BBC2, 9pm

Anyone who’s been on a long car journey with the whole family will know that such exertions hardly seem worthy of inclusion in a programme called Wonderland, but in this week’s episode we follow four packed cars as the inhabitants undertake emotional road trips to various parts of the UK. During their travels the various families amazingly end up discussing the same topics, which vary from marriage to mental illness… (What? No “Are we nearly there yet?..” etc)

It seems strange that in a programme of this perceived emotional magnitude its creator, Zara Hayes, has deemed it necessary to stoop to shock tactics in an effort to draw even more sympathy from the already anxiety addled viewers. It’s an approach that doesn’t really pay off. By introducing such ploys Hayes has only succeeded in detracting from the emotional impact of an otherwise heartfelt production, by unintentionally adding an element of comedy.

One such of these instances involves a scene where the Kempton’s regret their decision not to try for children: “I changed my mind rather too late, and then we discovered it wasn’t going to be that easy.â€? Okay, fair enough, poor Kemptons. But then there’s a quick cut to the back seat and, what?! There’s an adopted black child sitting there, happy as Larry – I guarantee no one saw that coming – and just like that, the entire five-minute dialogue they had about the regrets of not rearing a child just rendered itself redundant.

Another, far less funny, shock comes when we discover – after various light-hearted conversations between Kerry and his children about the dissolution of his marriage to their mother – the ashes they are carrying on board are in fact those of, yes, you guessed it, Kerry’s ex-wife, and mother to the children chatting away on the back seat.

Aside from the above, Travels With My Family is a heart-warming and original documentary, which, despite the absurd editing decisions still succeeds in what it set out to do.

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