If, say, a century ago you were an adventurous sort hellbent on seeing the world, your only chances of fulfilling your ambition were either to enter the diplomatic service or snag a wealthy patron, who’d be expecting a serious share of any treasure you brought back. These days you need only be the friend of a celebrity, as Charley Boorman has proved by announcing a new round-the-world travel series for bright ‘n’ breezy Channel 5.
But Charley’s far from the first TV star to chart a round-the-world course in search of bumper TV ratings, and he’ll be following in some legendary footsteps. So before Ewan McGregor’s bestest buddy fires up his hot air balloon (or whatever it is he’ll be travelling around in), let’s have a look at some of TV’s greatest globetrotters…
Alan Whicker – The smooth and urbane Whicker is the spiritual grandfather of anyone who’s taken to the skies in search of TV success, his Whicker’s World programme having run for nearly 30 years. He’s seen it all in his time, and his unflappable composure is probably best illustrated by this clip, in which he scrutinises everything from bombs to strippers from far-off lands with his characteristic world-weary air…
Michael Palin – He’d explored the outer reaches of comedy with the Pythons, so perhaps it was inevitable that he’d keep questing for new horizons after the team disbanded. Michael Palin’s ensured that BBC cameras have been pointed at some of the world’s most exotic and extreme locations, including the Sahara and the Himalayas, rooting out beautiful scenery and amazing stories by the barrel-load, such as this scene of him visiting a Pakistani gun market:
Billy Connolly – The Big Yin’s turned his attention to travel in a big way since conquering the world of stand-up comedy, having visited far-flung locales both for charity and in the name of entertaining TV documentaries. He’s done “world tours” of Scotland, Ireland and New Zealand, among others, and his recent jaunt along Route 66 for ITV was one of the most entertaining travel shows of the past few years:
Joanna Lumley – Having become something of a national treasure after sticking up for the Gurkhas in the face of parliamentary apathy, it’s perhaps fitting that the BBC chose the former Patsy Stone to visit one of the planet’s greatest treasures, the Northern Lights:
Paul Merton – There seems to be some connection between life as a comic and a need to travel, as Mr Merton’s become Channel 5’s resident explorer in recent years. And thank goodness, because he’s a jolly entertaining traveller, coming across like an eager fish out of water. See Paul in his charming panama hat here, learning about Indian etiquette:
Who’s your favourite travel presenter? Post a comment below and let us know…