Love 'em or loathe 'em, taxi drivers are a funny old bunch. Some are wonderfully friendly and will happily chat for the entire journey as if you're long-lost pals. I've even met a few who have been willing to … errrrr … "treat" me to some live Cantonese opera. Others can be surly and rude, each pleasantry met with a derisory grunt as if your desire to be driven somewhere is an unwarranted attack on their manhood. While some can skilfully navigate through gridlocked traffic jams quicker than a late-for-his-supper Lewis Hamilton, quite a few of these "professional drivers" seem to have only two gears and an epileptic right foot.
Hailing from London's East End, cockney cabbie Mason McQueen is one of the former. He's a charming, gregarious man and he certainly likes to natter. I can imagine most of his customers arrive at their destination with a smile on their face, which makes him an ideal travel companion and the perfect host for the three-part travelogue series A Cabbie Abroad (BBC Knowledge, Wednesday at 9.55pm).
Believing that London's black-taxi drivers are the best in the world, McQueen is journeying to three extremes in the ultimate test of his skills: to become a local cabbie. Fiji and the frozen plains of Canada await McQueen, as this week he begins his challenge on the chaotic streets of Phnom Penh.
Guided through swarms of scooters by tuk-tuk driver Polo Doot, McQueen has just 10 days to become familiar with the roads of the Cambodian capital and the vehicle. This is no plush busman's holiday spent in the Pearl of Asia; McQueen stays in his instructor's home, in one of the poorest areas of the city. As he learns about the atrocities caused by the genocide and the tyranny of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, McQueen seems to genuinely bond with his warm host - their friendship even remains strong after the Englishman prangs poor Polo Doot's tuk-tuk.
Also floundering like fish out of water this week are the Roses, a once-privileged family who have been forced to move to the rural, white-trash town of Schitt's Creek (FX, Wednesday at 10.35pm) after an unscrupulous business manager left them destitute.
From a grotty motel nestled in the armpit town, Johnny (Eugene Levy; the American Pie films), Moira (Catherine O'Hara, who has appeared with Levy in several of Christopher Guest's superb mockumentaries) and their two dysfunctional, grown children (brattish hipster David is played by Levy's real-life offspring, Daniel, who co-created the comedy series with his father) are left to rebuild their lives. Way out of their comfort zone and without a proverbial paddle, the family struggles to integrate with the salt-of-the-earth locals.
Levy - he of such magnificent eyebrows - plays the understated straight man as O'Hara, Levy Jnr and relative newcomer Annie Murphy (above far left, with O'Hara and Eugene and Daniel Levy), as the socialite daughter Alexis, get to chew up the scenery. There are a few one-liners that will raise a chortle amid the hamming, but if the producers manage to develop the storyline while giving the characters time to find their feet, it may just be worth taking a ride up Schitt's Creek, with or without the means of propulsion.