Fans of all things tech will be pleased to hear The Gadget Show is returning to Channel 5 tonight (8:00pm) – but they’ll also notice some pretty major changes.
The first thing that strikes you about The Gadget Show: World Tour is that there are some presenters missing. Gone are John, Suzi and Ortis. There’s only room for two people on this technological road trip of a lifetime: Jason Bradbury and Pollyanna Woodward.
"The format came first. We started with a blank page," explains Ian Dunkley, factual entertainment commissioner at Channel 5. "We asked, how can we move the show on? We didn’t have a presenting line-up in mind when we started."
The new pair admit they miss their long-time co-presenters. "It sometimes feels a bit weird for us,” says Bradbury. "We’ve been doing this for seven years and we’re all good friends." However, he is keen to stress that there is no way a terrestrial TV budget (especially at Channel 5, one thinks) could have stretched to five people going on this adventure. Indeed, such have been the commitments of the new show that Bradbury asserts: "We haven’t had a great deal of time to look back on the old format."
So what is The Gadget Show: World Tour?
"The core values of the show are the same," explains Dunkley, who pitches it as an insightful and entertaining guide to consumer tech. However, the new format also concentrates on what other countries have to offer in the tech world, and explores "bleeding-edge" gadgets and ideas that the show might not have had access to before.
Over 16 one-hour shows, Bradbury and Woodward travel the world, starting in Japan and moving on to Europe, the USA and the Middle East. Every step of the way they are driven by seeking out new tech, and finding ways to test consumer tech in "new and exciting ways".
Of course, Gadget Show fans will not be unaccustomed to the Top Gear-style antics of the various challenges the show throws up – but from the sizzler reel it looks like The Gadget Show: World Tour will turn this element of the programme up to 11.
From attempting to drive a car with a 3D TV strapped to the windscreen (and crashing) to re-creating viral videos on the streets of Tokyo and mind-controlled skateboards, there’s a lot to be excited about for the gadget fan and the adrenaline junkie.
The obvious chemistry between the presenters, on screen and off, suggests the show has a bright future, despite its depleted line-up. This is a road trip, and with cameras in the car every step of the way, you can’t help but feel intoxicated as much by Polly and Jason’s bubbly personalities and genuine enthusiasm for their mission as by the mind-blowing tech they encounter.
And to match the new fine-tuned Gadget Show machine, there’s an equally exciting promotional stunt on its way. When the trailers begin to broadcast on Channel 5 in the next few weeks, tablet and smartphone users will be able to download an app that allows them to enjoy the experience in 360-degree glory.
Thanks to an audio blip that syncs the app with the trailer, when the presenters walk off the TV screen you can follow them. If you turn your iPad or phone behind you, you can see the cameraman filming them. It’s seamless, and a great example of TV tech that you’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future (Channel 4 are apparently developing similar ideas), and what’s more – it works!
Although it might take a little bit of getting used to for dyed-in-the-wool fans, the new global Gadget Show looks like it could be just the shake-up the format needed. But only time will tell if it’s got the legs to carry two presenters and a lot of high jinks for 16 consecutive weeks. The Gadget Show: World Tour starts tonight on Channel 5 at 8:00pm.