Tough Guy or Chicken? Review: Playing Cowboys & Londoners

August 19, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

4Like a Rhinestone cowboy

TOUGH GUYS OR CHICKEN?: Thursday 20th August, BBC3, 9pm Alert Me

For a while there it looked like Brokeback Mountain had ruined cowboys for us, but BBC3’s newest show had us reaching for our hats and spurs once more.

Aside from the ridiculous name, this is a really interesting adventure show where five British guys go and live in some of the harshest conditions around the world.

In this week’s episode, the boys are in Ecuador learning how to become cowboys or ‘chagras’ in order to take part in an annual rodeo. They spend a few days with the people that live that way on a daily basis and try their hand at some pretty dangerous challenges.

This makes a big change from the ‘look how stupid teenagers are’ shows that have been bogging down BBC3 lately. These guys are young, intelligent, healthy and willing to try new things. So there.

In the harsh Ecuadorian landscape the guys had to ride horses, learn to lasso and wrestle bulls to the floor and brand them. Easy peasey.

Vegetarian, Ben, is a real animal lover and his reaction to the branding and killing of bulls was very emotional. As he refused to take part in the task, he forfeited the right to go riding and learning to herd bulls for the rest of the week. Not sure he minded too much though after seeing how tough it can be.

Genuinely putting their lives at risk, the guys braved harsh winds and high mountains for a dangerous adrenaline rush. The hard life of the chagras is not enviable at all but it gave the Brits the chance to, in London firefighter Easton’s words, “assert his manhood.”

Each of them puts everything they have into the tasks, realising that this is a once in a lifetime chance and that they want to prove themselves. When Easton begins to suffer from altitude sickness he tries desperately to carry and prove to his young son that anything is possible. Ah, bless.

They boys soon find themselves pitted against wild bulls willing to tear them apart, rocky mountain paths and 70% proof alcohol that the real chagras swig whilst on the job. Drunken bull wrangling is not for the faint of heart or soft of stomach.

While it’s not an in depth look at the life of a chagra, it’s really interesting and pretty exciting.

Roll on next week’s episode: Siberia!

Emily Moulder