A very rough-around-the-edges 20-year veteran of ice-road trucking, Hugh is 47 years old and is based in Kelowna in southern British Columbia. He claims to be known by the Ice Road trucking community as “The Polar Bear,” which he says is a reference to his strong personality, bearish attitude, stamina and consistently high number of loads delivered per season. Hugh owns four trucks and drives one while the other three are manned by ice road rookies Drew Sherwood and Todd White, as well as friend and year-round employee Rick Yemm. Hugh’s trucks all have the emblem R&R Hoe Service on the doors – the company Hugh owns in Kelowna (actually Winfield, BC).
During the course of Season 1, all three of Hugh’s hired drivers end up prematurely leaving the ice road for reasons such as banishment for excessive speeding in Todd’s case, to heated disagreements as to the working condition of Hugh’s trucks in Rick’s case. In Drew’s case it was several break downs. Hugh’s truck is called “The Crow’s Nest” and is kept in good condition as was Rick’s truck, besides the heater. The trucks driven by Drew Sherwood and Todd White have a multitude of mechanical problems. After Drew’s departure, Hugh hires a 4th driver named Danny Reese. In the final episode of the first season, Hugh’s luck finally runs out when his truck is sideswiped by another trucker on the ice road, knocking a driving axle off the chassis. He ends up finishing the season in the truck originally driven by Rick.
The series’ premiere was seen by 3.4 million viewers to become the most-watched original telecast in the History Channel’s 12-year history at that time. Among critics, Adam Buckman of The New York Post said, “Everything about ‘Ice Road Truckers’ is astonishing”.Virginia Heffernan of The New York Times said, “Watching these guys … make their runs, it’s hard not to share in their cold, fatigue and horrible highway hypnosis, that existential recognition behind the wheel late at night that the pull of sleep and the pull of death are one and the same. … [I]t gets right exactly what Deadliest Catch got right, namely that the leave-nothing-but-your-footprints, green kind of eco-travelers are too mellow and conscientious to be interesting to watch. Instead, the burly, bearded, swearing men who blow methyl hydrate into their own transmissions and welcome storms as breaks from boredom … are much better television.” During 2007 the series was shown in the UK, Australia and various countries in Africa.
By series completion it was clear that the truck falling through the ice was only a special effect, a fact that caused some grumbling among the truckers. Still, the series is a rare occasion in reality television where the cast seem pleased with the outcome.
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Category: Ice road truckers
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