I’m not a huge TV viewer and when I do watch TV, it’s usually ‘On Demand’ as I have trouble sleeping at the best of times and a 40hr day with no sleep is not unusual, so thank god for Netflix et al.
By pure luck, I happened to stumble upon the first of two episodes of Without Limits: Vietnam on BBC1 last Thursday.
I would bet quite a large amount of money that there weren’t many households watching who remained unmoved by the sheer guts, determination and the stoic attitude every member of the team displayed when faced with whatever obstacle put in front of them.
For me, the two highlights of the show that illustrate this point beautifully were when Vicky Balch (pictured), who lost her leg after the now well-publicised rollercoaster accident at Alton Towers in 2015.
Vicky was driving a 4 x 4 down a very steep road with, what looked like quite a steep drop on one side. As she was happily driving along, she suddenly
noticed the vehicle didn’t feel right and within seconds lost complete power, including the brakes!
Looking as calm as a Swan gliding across a country lake, she kept control and brought the vehicle to safe stop without incident, much to the relief of her two passengers, Mary Russell and Olympic wheelchair rugby captain Steve Brown.
As soon as she applied the handbrake, Vicky burst into tears as it reminded her of the ride at Alton Towers, and who can blame her.
Ever wondered what makes an Olympian? Just watch this episode if you missed it and see how Steve became the first ever wheelchair bound person to enter (with wheelchair) a underground cave system in Vietnam, albeit with a lot of help from the team, but a huge undertaking nevertheless.
This unique group of travellers – six people with different disabilities – are on an epic journey of almost 900 miles through Vietnam, a country still suffering the legacy of war with high numbers of disability from unexploded ordnance. Although shadowed by film and safety crews, the group are in charge of their own destiny, navigating the route and the difficult access in a country ill-equipped for disability.
Mary Russell was born with achondroplasia, the most common type of dwarfism. She has struggled with depression throughout her life and still fights a battle with low self-esteem.
On the motorbikes are Louise Halvey, who has progressive hearing loss and must negotiate the chaos of Hanoi traffic; and marathon runner Charlie Lewis who convinced a surgeon to amputate his right leg following a snowboarding accident that for almost ten years had kept him in constant pain.
Andy Slade (below) is the most experienced biker. He lost his arm in an industrial accident nine years ago, but soon got back to bike racing, becoming the UK’s fastest one-armed man on a motorbike. But even that can’t help him as he takes a tumble on the legendary Ho Chi Minh trail.
Without Limits: Vietnam is produced by Unscripted Productions and BBC Studios Bristol for BBC One.