Great Canal Journeys

The River Nile

Series 9 - Episode 1 The River Nile



Timothy West had pretty well decided not to do any more sailing trips with Prunella Scales because of her deteriorating mental health. But the chance to glide along 150 miles of the Nile on a dahabiyya barge like the one Cleopatra used 2,000 years earlier proved irresistible. “It’ll be quite a break from darkest Wandsworth [their London home]!” she says gaily.

It’s a spectacular trip – they visit the temple of Karnak and the legendary source of the Nile - but it’s their affectionate relationship that makes this so engaging. He reads excerpts from Death on the Nile or quotes Shakespeare, she sings sea shanties and they often hold hands. It’s simply delightful.


Timothy West and Prunella Scales travel down the River Nile from Luxor to Aswan. Tim has some misgivings about attempting such a daring journey, but is won over by Pru's desire for fresh adventure. They discover how travel along the river was vital to the ancient Egyptian civilisation, and discover how the first ever canals were constructed nearby to ferry building materials for the temple at Karnak. Along the way, they visit a Nubian village, purchase aphrodisiacs in a souk, and dance by moonlight.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Timothy West
Presenter Prunella Scales
Executive Producer Daniela Neumann
Executive Producer Mike Taylor
Series Director Mike Taylor