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

Episode 5: Oriental Express

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Video Description

 

Palin finds that the ship had indeed sailed from Singapore. However, quite fortunately, it was only four miles from shore and Palin was able to make it on board using a fast motorboat. While in Hong Kong, he wins big betting on a horse race, is attacked by a cockatoo and meets up with his friend, photographer Basil Pao. He attends a party thrown in his honour at the halfway point (in terms of days) in the journey. Then it is on to Guangzhou for a dinner of shredded cobra and then a train to Shanghai. On the train, he is asked by a Chinese businesswoman if he carries an umbrella all the time. Palin replies, "I just get wet." He also collects the roofing tile requested by Terry Gilliam from a very old train station.

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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