Nick Hewer: Countdown to Freetown
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Documentary, Entertainment, Factual
1 x 60 min
7 April 2013, 7 pm

Nick Hewer: Countdown to Freetown

Nick Hewer makes a hazardous 5000-mile journey to Sierra Leone

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Nick Hewer leaves his comfort zone to attempt a near-impossible adventure, taking on punishing heat, potholed dirt tracks, basic mechanics and corruption.

He's towing a one-and-a-half-tonne industrial saw and generator 5000 miles to Sierra Leone. He wants to present the saw to James, a street kid he met three years earlier on a visit to Freetown with his charity Hope and Homes for Children.

James was trained as a carpenter by the charity and Nick was taken with his creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Now Nick wants to give James the saw and generator to kick-start a fledgling business.

It's an adventure that lurches from one crisis to another: the vandalism of Nick's donated Land Cruiser in Morocco; the threat of kidnapping in the Western Sahara; the near-destruction of the trailer axles on sand roads in Guinea.

When he finally reaches James, the 19-year-old is touched by Nick's charitable act.

But the reality of owning a set of massive machines in one of the world's poorest countries gives rise to questions about the wisdom of Nick's philanthropy.

Will the saw help James or put him in danger? Can the business really be a success in Freetown? And, above all, can a personal intervention like this be any more effective than giving money to one of the big charities?

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"There's frankly nothing not to love about this programme, so buckle up for a journey that should be right up there with one of the big Top Gear challenges. Only with Nick Hewer, which makes it even better." Virgin Media
"This worthwhile film sees Countdown host and Apprentice scrutineer Nick Hewer set out to tow a one-and-a-half-tonne industrial saw 5,000 miles to Sierra Leone. Why? Because he wants to donate it to an enterprising young carpenter James, whose entrepreneurial spirit impressed him three years ago on a visit to the capital, Freetown, with his charity Hope & Homes for Children. Now he is hoping that equipped with the saw James will be able to to kick-start a fledging business. As Hewer describes it, this is a "bold enterprise" and not without plenty problems along the way. Utterly admirable and very watchable. " The Observer
"Rather than simply get out the cheque book, Alan Sugar's consigliere Hewer is taking a truck on a journey of more than 4,000 miles in an act of charity. His mission is to deliver a rotating saw and generator to Sierra Leone for James, a young carpenter he met briefly two years ago. You have to wonder if there isn;t an easier way to get the machinery to West Africa, but the best part of the film is seeing the resourceful James in action as he builds his fledgling business. The next set of Apprentice candidates would do well to watch. " The Mail on Sunday
"Nick Hewer met James, a Sierra Leone "street kid", three years ago and the charity he supports helped provide the lad with carpentry training. More recently, the Countdown presenter and former advisor on The Apprentice conceived the idea of acquiring an industrial saw and generator and taking it by road to surprise his protégé, now 18, and help him set up his own workshop. Fortunately, a camera crew was prepared to accompany Hewer as he travelled the near 5,000 miles to Freetown, the capital city. Thus we follow the journey and its inevitable ups and downs-some resulting from poor roads, others from mechanical and human frailty and time pressure, but all lending the vital tv component of jeopardy. Eventually, james gets his saw and looks pleased, but not overwhelmed. "He's not going to do cartwheels," says Hewer, apologetically - but he probably is." The Sunday Times