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

Episode 6: Far East and Farther East

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Video Description

 

In Shanghai, Palin gets some herbal remedies to help him on the rest of his trip. He and Basil Pao take in a Chinese jazz band. After parting with Pao the next day, Palin takes a Chinese ferry to Yokohama, where he rides the world-famous shinkansen train to Tokyo. Here he meets David Powers, a British journalist, and is taken to a sushi bar and then a karaoke bar, where he sings "You Are My Sunshine" as a duet. After spending the night in a capsule hotel, he boards a container ship to cross the Pacific Ocean. The journey takes eleven days and is very dull, enlivened only by a game of pass the parcel with the Singaporean crew, and the crossing of the International Date Line. Palin partakes in an unusual ceremony to commemorate crossing the line, involving getting doused in tomato paste and flour, and drinking a strange cocktail containing many ingredients, among others, "eggs, curry powder, cocoa...". Palin suggests that some people involved in the ceremony had watched Full Metal Jacket to prepare for it.

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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