Pilgrimage stars reveal why laughter was so important on the trek

"There's not a lot of laughs in the Bible."

Programme Name: Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul - TX: n/a - Episode: Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul - generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Dom Joly, Edwina Currie, Mim Shaikh, Pauline McLynn, Adrian Chiles, Fatima Whitbread, Amar Latif - (C) CTVC - Photographer: Oliver Rose

When it comes to discussing faith and religion, hysterical laughter might not be the first thing that comes to mind – but according to the stars of Pilgrimage: the Road to Istanbul, sharing a chuckle or two was a vital part of their trek.


The show, which is returning to BBC Two on Friday 27th March, sees seven celebrities from various religious backgrounds embark on a long journey as they visit important places of worship and discuss the nature of faith.

And although there are moments of reflection and seriousness, the show is by no means an entirely sombre affair – with the group of seven sharing many in-jokes and funny moments, including some that didn’t make it into the final cut.

“I always think of religion, there’s not a lot of laughs,” said broadcaster Adrian Chiles, one of those taking part. “There’s not a lot of laughs in the bible…there are priests that would disagree with me fervently on that but I really don’t think there is.

“Yet here we’d be veering wildly between being in some great quiet place of worship and the next minute we’re on a hillside… I mean literally sometimes I was having to hold my trousers to stop myself weeing myself with mirth!

“That was what’s joyous about it, it’s not an either/or  – the joy and the laughter is part of faith and belief I think.”

Some of the funniest moments in the series come thanks to the rapport struck up between comedian Dom Joly and entrepreneur and TV presenter Amar Latif – who was determined not to let his blindness get in the way of some daring stunts.

Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul
BBC/CTVC/Oliver Rose

Joly said, “It was an absolute nightmare because I love doing stupid stuff and then Amar (was) sort of pushing it.

“It was really annoying because normally I’m the one pushing boundaries and someone else goes ‘Stop!’, but Amar was actually just doing it – in the end I had to become the responsible one, which was not something I’m pleased with at all!”

Latif added: “It was funny because when Dom was guiding me at the very very top, it’s so hard to know whether he’s telling the truth or he’s not. But that jovial manner, we’re very similar in that respect.”

According to the cast, there were numerous other moments that didn’t quite make the final cut.

Actor Pauline McLynn said, “Dom Joly, and this didn’t make it into the program but he did this thing that always started with ‘You Join Us.’

“We would be up a mountain, and he would say, ‘You Join Us for Jazz Hour with Mr Adrian Chiles’ for instance. There were many bits of fabulousness which we may make into our own program!”


Well, that programme might not actually be forthcoming – but there are plenty humorous moments in Pilgrimage to keep us going for now…

Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul starts Friday 27th March at 9pm on BBC Two. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV Guide.