Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days (1989) BBC

Episode 3: Ancient Mariners

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Video Description

 

Palin recounts his trip from Jeddah to Dubai via Riyadh, and notes that he drove the distance from London to the Black Sea in one weekend.

In Dubai, the team finds a dhow named the Al-Sharma to take them to Bombay. Along the way, Palin bonds with the dhow's crew who were an extended family from the Indian state of Gujarat, letting the oldest one listen to a Bruce Springsteen song on his Walkman, and developing a bad case of diarrhoea, resulting in many trips to the ship's unique open-air latrine. The journey took seven days on what became the most famous part of the whole trip featured in the series.

The trip on the dhow yielded so much material that the producers gained special permission to craft this extra seventh episode for what was originally planned as a six-episode series. In the interview included with the DVD release, Palin said that he would like to meet the dhow's crew and thank them again for their gracious hospitality. In September 2008, Palin announced on his official website that he would be traveling to Gujarat in an attempt to locate the crew (which was a success) and reunite with them. This journey was chronicled in the BBC television documentary, Around the World in 20 Years.

Documentary Description

 

Around the World in 80 Days is a BBC television travel series first broadcast in 1989. It was presented by comedian and actor Michael Palin. The show was inspired by Jules Verne's classic novel Around the World in Eighty Days, in which a character named Phileas Fogg accepts a wager to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days or less. Palin was given the same deadline, and not allowed to use aircraft, which did not exist in Jules Verne's time and would make completing the journey far too easy. He followed Phileas Fogg's route as closely as possible. Along the way he commented on the sights and cultures he encountered. Palin encountered several setbacks during his voyage, partly because he travelled with a five-person film crew, who are collectively named after Passepartout, Phileas Fogg's Manservant.

The programme was a critical and commercial success, winning strong ratings in the UK and selling well abroad. It was also released on video tape and later on DVD. Following the trip Michael Palin wrote a book about the experience. This book contains much more detail than could be present in the TV programme, and Palin's personal views are also more clearly evident. The book contains many pictures from the trip.

Around the World in 80 Days was followed by several similar conceptual travel series starring Michael Palin. These were Pole to Pole (travelling from the North Pole to the South Pole), Full Circle (circumnavigation of the Pacific Rim), Hemingway Adventure (following in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway), Sahara (travelling around and through the Sahara Desert), Himalaya (travelling around the Himalayas), and New Europe (travelling around Eastern Europe).

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