DEBORAH ROSS: Michael Palin is deliciously dry in Travels Of A Lifetime

Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime

Sunday, BBC2


Spit picture

Saturday, BritBox


Michael Palin's "Around the World in Eighty Days," originally broadcast in 1989, was the first "Celebrity Travelogue" that paved the way for the current situation in which Sue Perkins played Japan in recent years, Paul Hollywood played Japan and James May makes Japan.

(I can live without ever seeing the widest pedestrian crossing in the world in Tokyo again. Or any robots.) Meanwhile, Grayson Perry has been hanging out in America, Frank Skinner is out in Scotland, while Romesh Ranganathan is probably somewhere Joanna Lumley.

And there's Michael Portillo and his features, too, but I like Michael and his features better, so let's leave him and his features alone.

The gold standard remains around the world. It was Deadline TV when it originally aired and it was hugely successful, and it's wonderful again. To recap, Palin has been accused of following in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg, the fictional character who circled the globe in 80 days (without flying).

Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime was a compilation show interspersed with reflections by Palin, while the entire original series is now available on iPlayer. This review is from both of them as after seeing them on Sunday I couldn't resist re-watching some of the actual episodes.

Nowadays, most travel reports don't give you a sense of real travel. For example, you get the feeling that a celebrity was picked up at the Hilton before they were taken to the Tokyo intersection to deliver a bit of play.

However, here we even see all the preparation. The packing and the jostling and, since this is the pre-digital age, buying cards and arranging a code name with the bank in case you need to call for emergency money.

Michael Palin (above) has been accused of following in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg, the fictional character who circled the globe in 80 days (without flying)

Michael Palin (above) has been accused of following in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg, the fictional character who circled the globe in 80 days (without flying)

(& # 39; Hello Coutts, this is Jabberwocky. & # 39;) Palin also met Alan Whicker, previously our traveler (along with Judith Chalmers, who wished you were here), who advised him & # 39; never die To learn national language & # 39; and just push through I say you are British and from the BBC.

If you look at the first episode in its entirety, you'll see that he gives further advice that is unexpectedly divinely bitchy. "You mustn't try to deceive the viewer," he said. "When you see little Bernard Levin driving across the Pyrenees in his funny shorts and standing alone and lonely on the summit, you know that behind him there are two limousines full of PAs with thermos bottles … that's a lot of nonsense." Don't pretend you're alone. "

The thought of the critic – "little Bernard Levin in his funny shorts" – made me laugh more than anything at Spitting Image.

Palin is deliciously dry. In Venice, he opens his hotel window and finds that he has a terrible view, which is probably the most interesting thing for roofers. He is warm, engaging and engaging, never pompous or condescending.

Again, it always feels like real travel. He's angry with his gut, like all of us. He gets stressed out trying to buy a ticket where he can't speak the language like all of us. And he never tells us what to feel.

He's obviously concerned about the sight of child beggars in Bombay, as it was called here, but he doesn't cry in front of the camera or anything.

There are encounters that seem really spontaneous, as if he happened to meet a film director in the bar of his hotel in Cairo – not at the Hilton, there was no bath plug and no hot water – and the next morning appears as an extra in his current project, the may not be a big budget.

First note: It is being shot in a Safeway supermarket.

Palin then traveled across the Persian Gulf by dhow. So it was six days on a simple boat with “no life jacket in sight” and no cabins – he slept on sandbags on deck – and terrible toilets.

But in the end, he and his fellow travelers, mostly poor Egyptians looking for work in Saudi Arabia, were like family. At one point he hooked an old guy on his Walkman and played Bruce Springsteen, and the old guy started living.

It was a beautiful, human connection the likes of which you don't see anywhere else now.

Spit picture was also Schedule TV when it was first shown – 1984, and then it ran until 1996 – and now, oddly enough, it's been remade for BritBox, but there you are. This new series, which for time constraints I have to base on last Saturday's episode rather than yesterday's, was a hit-and-miss, possibly more miss.

The best sketches were Greta Thunberg as a weather forecaster with only one forecast – "Hot!" – and Dominic Cummings as an alien who wanted to eat Boris Johnson's baby.

But there was too much Trump, Prince Harry sounded like he was part Australian, part Cockney, and the recurring Lewis Hamilton joke was trotting. That said, it has been incredibly wild and at times shocking – you have to watch Trump write his tweets – and the puppets are such wonders of exaggerated similarities that they make up for the weakness of some jokes. A little bit.

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