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David Beckham into the Unknown – TV review
By SP_COP on June 10, 2014 | From
Becks is going to Brazil. For a lads' adventure with three mates, to see the world a new way, and to find himself. "You're going where to find yourself?" Victoria asked. "Why can't you find yourself at home?"

She is worried about him, though. Well, about his hair mostly, and what the humidity will do to it. Victoria has always avoided humid countries herself, for hair reasons.

After a sweet man-to-man, arm-in-arm, walk'n'talk with Brooklyn (wow, he's grown up) in the grounds of the Notting Hill palace, he's off, David Beckham into the Unknown (BBC1). Not so unknown to start with – Rio de Janeiro, where Becks himself is very known. He is papped to pieces, mobbed and selfied. It does look hard work, being David Beckham. Before setting off he was moaning that it had been years since he had walked through a park without being photographed or chased. It looks as if he's going to have to get out of town for that, though they do have motorbikes, and motorbike helmets, which provide temporary anonymity. Plus plenty of boysy fun, riding around the most spectacular city in the world, dropping into the inevitable favela, joining a game of foot volleyball on the beach. A suspiciously perfect game of foot volleyball, with the sun going down over the sea …

I'd like to know how much of this was set up in advance. It's certainly not your average gap year/midlife crisis trip, but a massive operation planned on a military scale, with an army of back-up, motorbikes, Learjets on standby, all with the aim of giving a multimillionaire international celebrity an experience. It just happens that the experience he's buying is an attempt at some kind of non-celebrity normality.

As well as to make a film, of course – and look good in the film. Which he does, bearded and bandana-ed, on the beach, on the bike, standing up on the pegs, in a hammock, in the jungle. Are you carrying a sack of yuca on your back, David, or are you in a boyband video? I was surprised not to see a stylist among the credits, but then there's no medic there either, and they've clearly got one of them, to tend to their splinters.

If it was really just about being with his mates and self-discovery he could have left the cameras at home. But I'm glad he didn't; it's fun. Funny too, mainly because of oldest mate Dave, who's a kind of Karl Pilkington figure. Plus, it's very hard not to like David, he does seem a lovely fella. Genuine, too – about the joy of not being recognised at a roadside cafe; about the amazingness of the amazon; about being a bit jealous of a man with a simple life. Why shouldn't he have a taste of freedom, go somewhere because he wants to go with people he wants to go with, not because someone is telling him to?

They – and their motorbikes – are jetted to Manaus. They ride into the jungle, for adventure and more posing with motorbikes. David cooks an egg, they go in a boat, catch fish, which David also cooks, after he's filleted it. (Fillet he pronounces "fillay", which might come from Posh, or possibly McDonald's?) We see a bit of what he has to live with when Raj, who's in charge of health and safety, tries to stop him climbing the lookout tower because he might fall, about three feet. Shut up Raj, he's not a child, he's 38, he'll do what he wants – climb a tower, fillay a fish, ride a motorbike on a dirt road through the jungle. Sleep out, too, with snakes and spiders, enjoy the excitement of a first ever firefly, which he initially mistakes as a mobile phone signal …...
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