Some TV shows, such as Chernobyl, stick with you for a lifetime. Others are so stupid or terrible they also cling to your memory like a bloody plague.
What was Touch the Truck?
It was a reality TV endurance show in the UK hosted by Dale Winton.
Contestants had to stand about touching a truck. The last one touching the truck, won the truck. There were five episodes of the concept, all of which aired in March of 2001.
Glenn Barden and Dave Hills created the idea and it ran on Channel 5 (at the time, the least popular of the five channels available to UK viewers).
Following the success of Big Brother in the UK, many channels began a reality TV frenzy.
Desperate to find the next ratings hit, some spur of the moment ideas got the green light and went into production. With a wide array of results.
Bare in mind Channel 5 had already commissioned Naked Jungle in 2000. Hosted by a naked Keith Chegwin, nudist contestants ran about an assault course.
That one only ran for five episodes, too. Try to contain your amazement.
What Happened in Touch the Truck?
20 contestants. One truck. No sleep! “Masterful hypnotic television”, screamed The Telegraph. “Possibly the worst TV idea ever”, roared The Sunday Times.
It was pretty simple as a premise. The contestants (no doubt having signed legal waivers about their health and safety), went live on air.
And it was a last person standing type deal. At all times they had to touch the truck. And no sleeping was allowed.
So, whoever won at the end was in a fatigued mess. And then had to drive the truck home! Just kidding on that latter point.
We should imagine contestants then went off for psychiatric examination.
As covered in D.T. Max’s The Family That Couldn’t Sleep, your entire life will fall apart if you go several days without proper rest.
It’s remarkable no one ended up a drooling, jabbering, crazed wreck.
Anyway, the show played out for five episodes to see who was left standing. Jerry Middleton (39 at the time) won the thing.
He managed to keep it together for some 81 hours 43 minutes and 31 seconds. In a fit of total exhaustion-induced insanity, he said he’d sell the truck to form a political party. Nice.
However, in a bizarre twist, he did indeed do just that!
At the Kingston and Surbiton constituency in London, he stood for election to become an MP in 2001. Sadly for Middleton, he could only claim 54 votes from the 49,093 turnout. Bummer.
What Happened to Touch the Truck?
In England, it enjoyed a consistent rating of one million people over its magnificent five episode run.
The Philippines, Indonesia, Portugal and Turkey liked the idea enough to buy the concept and run it on their, respective, channels.
But in the UK, that was it. Touch the Truck ended after one series. Why? Probably as it was a show about watching people standing about touching a truck.
We vaguely remember watching a bit of one episode in 2001. Presenter Winton attempted to liven up proceedings by going about talking to contestants.
Ultimately, the show was as predictably boring as you might expect.