‘The Amazing Race’ Finally Returns After Its COVID Hiatus: Watch the First Five Minutes of New Episode (EXCLUSIVE)

“The Amazing Race” returns for its 33rd edition on Wednesday, January 5, at 8 p.m. ET, kicking off with a disclaimer from host Phil Keoghan about this most unusual season. Variety has an exclusive first look at the opening five minutes of the two-hour premiere episode, (watch above, or scroll down to see more) set to air next week on CBS.

“It’s so good to be back,” Keoghan says at the start of the episode. “We know how much you have missed ‘The Amazing Race,’ and believe me, we have missed making it for you. Tonight’s episode was filmed before the outbreak of COVID-19, which prompted us to suspend shooting at the end of the third leg. I am excited to tell you that after a long break, we did finish shooting this season and once again, the world is waiting for you.”

The show then opens in the pre-pandemic times, with 11 teams at their homes across the country, saying goodbye to their families and scrambling out the door as Keoghan kicks off the race via a video message on their phones. From their residences, the teams are tasked with flying to London and finding the next clue in Trafalgar Square. There, contestants they must find “The Queen” and “Boris Johnson” having a nosh. They later travel to Scotland, where a nearly 20-month pitstop began.

This season of “The Amazing Race” began production in February 2020, but was forced to pause due to COVID-19 concerns. With no real way to shoot “Amazing Race” in a bubble, the producers had to wait more than a year to call back the crew and contestants and resume production — what the show is now dubbing “the longest pitstop in ‘Amazing Race’ history.” Finally this fall, executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri and their team had conceived a new way to return to the race; read Variety‘s full report on how “The Amazing Race” finally resumed production here.

Among the answers viewers will see when “The Amazing Race” returns next week on CBS: A chartered 757 jet, complete with “The Amazing Race” logo on the side, was brought in to shuttle contestants and crew from place to place without having to enter crowded airports. And van Munster drew up an abbreviated course that took the show through Mediterranean countries where infection rates were low. Once on the ground, contestants didn’t use public transportation, and only interacted with locals who had been tested and vaccinated.

Additionally, when the race resumed, not all contestants could make their way back. Two pairs fell out, but seven teams managed to return.

Here is a round-up of this season’s contestants:

Akbar Cook Sr. (45) and Sheridan Cook (44)
Married educators from Martinsville, N.J.

Anthony Sadler (29) and Spencer Stone (29)
Childhood friends from Sacramento, Calif.

Arun Kumar (56) and Natalie Kumar (28)
Father and daughter from Detroit, Mich.

Caro Viehweg (23) and Ray Gantt (25)
Dating from Los Angeles and Toms River, N.J., respectively.

Connie (37) and Sam (39) Greiner
Married couple from Charlotte, N.C.

Kim (45) and Penn (47) Holderness
Internet personalities from Raleigh, N.C.

Marianela “Lulu” (37) and Marissa “Lala” (37) Gonzalez
Twins and radio hosts from North Bergen, N.J.

Michael Norwood (36) and Armonde “Moe” Badger (42)
Singing police officers from Buffalo, N.Y.

Raquel Moore (31) and Cayla Platt (30)
Flight attendants from Chicago, Ill. and Gulf Breeze, Fla., respectively.

Ryan Ferguson (37) and Dusty Harris (38)
Best friends from Columbia, Mo.

Taylor Green-Jones (38) and Isaiah Green-Jones (31)
YouTube personalities from Portland, Ore.

Here’s the five-minute open to the Season 33 premiere:

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