Thursday, 8 April 2010, 9:00PM
The Parent Trip, a brand new series for ITV2, shows celebrities at close quarters with the people who know them best – their mums and dads – in totally alien circumstances.
The Parent Trip takes three personalities and their parents on an adventure of a lifetime, opening their eyes to some of the world’s most extreme locations and fascinating cultures and giving them the opportunity to rediscover each other along the way.
For their parent trip, model Abbey Clancy and her mum Karen make a tough, and, at times, emotional journey on camel back across the Great Thar Desert in India to perform a dance with a gypsy family at a camel fair.
There are heart-wrenching scenes, tears of sadness and frustration and moments of joy and laughter as the pair come to terms with the poverty and harsh environment they are surrounded by and meet the challenges they face head on.
After initially being horrified at the conditions in which the gypsy family live, and being terrified at the prospect of riding camels and dancing in public, Abbey and Karen begin to bond with the family and prepare themselves for a performance like nothing they have ever experienced before.
As they start on their journey, being thrown into the hot, noisy, and bewildering city of Jaipur proves too much for Abbey and she breaks down in tears after a terrifying journey by rickshaw through the streets, surrounded by fast cars, bikes, lorries and even elephants.
Abbey tells the programme that she is missing her boyfriend and is disappointed at herself for not having the courage to ride an elephant.
She says: “I am annoyed at myself. I’m disappointed because I don’t want it to be fixed in my brain that I’m going to be scared of everything, I want to enjoy it because I don’t want to get back to England, back to normal life, and regret it. Regret not making the most of it and taking everything in. I want to make the most of it instead of being shocked and scared.”
As Abbey and Karen board the train to take them to the desert, they encounter beggars and buskers and, as they apply their make-up, contemplate squatting instead of sitting for a wee. Their thoughts are captured on camera and Karen says she is struggling but Abbey disagrees with her, insisting that she has been the stronger of the two.
Karen adds: “I am coping with it, but…I’m getting a bit nervous, I don’t know what to expect.”
When they arrive at the Kalbelia family’s camp, Abbey becomes emotional again when she sees the conditions they are going to be living in and discovers that she and her mum will be expected to dance at the fair.
She says: “It’s just too much to take in, sleeping in a tent in the middle of the desert and then dancing on tour with the gypsies. It’s sad as well, you moan about your life and then you see people just living on the ground and then you moan that you’re hungry or you moan that you’ve nothing to wear.”
Abbey can’t hold back her tears as her mum tries to reassure her that everything will be alright.
The next day, things are tense as Abbey, Karen and the family prepare to start their journey across the desert. Abbey and Karen attempt to help one of the dancers who has an infected cut on her foot, but Abbey becomes agitated with Karen for touching the girl as she is afraid her mother may pick up the infection.
Karen tells the programme: “It was just a motherly instinct, I’d do it to anyone who was hurt, I wouldn’t see anyone like that and it was just my instinct as a mum…if it had been Abbey I would have done it, I wouldn’t care if I got an infection. It was just a quick thing, she always bites my head off…she only does it to me, rips my head right off and then if you watch she comes right back, ‘Hiya mum, sorry, I didn’t mean to say it like that.’”
And, true to form, Abbey later apologies. Then, as the roles reverse for the first time on the trip, Abbey steps in to comfort her mum when she becomes terrified at the thought of riding a camel. As the pair face nine hours a day on the camels to get them across the desert, is this a fear Karen is going to be able to overcome?
As the journey begins there are more shocks in store when Abbey discovers the food is cooked directly on a fire made of animal dung. But, despite all their reservations and concerns, Abbey and Karen talk to the girls more, in particular Moria and Raker and find themselves growing closer to them.
Abbey is very concerned about Raker’s foot, which has become swollen and painful to walk on, and agonises over whether or not to give her some antibiotics she has brought with her. Abbey and Karen decide to take Raker to the nearest doctor, which is in the next town, and, as they make their way there they teach the girls songs from the musical Grease, which they sing as their convoy of camels leads them through the dusty streets.
The high spirits are soon cut short when the doctor tells Raker that she needs to be treated with antibiotics and won’t be able to dance at the fair – meaning the family could lose out on vital earnings.
The family must continue on their journey to the fair, with Karen and Abbey agreeing to step in and replace Raker for the dance. They realise their performance is more important than ever now and they have to get their moves right. At the fair, Abbey, Karen and the other girls are paraded around in their costumes to attract attention and are warned that the farmers will expect the best if they are going to part with their hard earned rupees.
As they step into the circle to perform, will Abbey and Karen’s nerves get the better of them?
At the end of their adventure, there are moving scenes as Karen and Abbey prepare to leave Moria and her family. Moria tells Abbey she is her sister now and both girls are crying as they hug and say goodbye.
Abbey says: “I didn’t think we could have one thing in common. She’s a gypsy girl, I live in England and a more civilised, more privileged life and as time’s gone on I’ve realised we’re exactly the same, both young girls, both want to look good, both want to have fun and it’s bizarre how I’ve become so close to someone who’s so different.”
And, at the end of their parent trip, both Abbey and Karen reveal that they feel closer after such an extreme experience together.
Abbey says: “I’m so proud of her…I can’t describe how close I feel to her now, it’s definitely changed my life. I never like to appear weak in front of my mum, I just always want to be strong…I think it’s been a bit of a break through in our relationship and shows it’s not a flaw to be weak at times…and that’s what mums are there for, to make you better.”
Karen says: “She’s got her own life now, away from me, normally I’m terrified to do anything, but I feel stronger, I feel better.”