Great British Railway Journeys – 29 May 2021 – 29/5/2021 – Saturday – BBC Two

Park Royal to Westminster
Series 13 Episode 10 of 15

Michael’s rail journey through the interwar capital follows Harry Beck’s radical map for the London Underground, embraced by Londoners since its launch in 1932. Michael finds out how persistence paid off for Beck after his design was initially rejected. At the Acton Depot of the London Transport Museum, Michael traces the map’s origins among the 320,000 exhibits of the urban transport collection.

Heading into town, Michael swings by the Dorchester, newly listed in his 1936 guidebook after its recent opening. Piccadilly is his next stop, home to the Royal Academy of Art and galleries galore. Michael discovers a shocking show which took place here in 1936 at London’s first Exhibition of Surrealism. A contemporary critic paints a colourful picture of the surreal stunts of the day, including Spanish artist Salvador Dali dressed as a deep-sea diver holding two wolfhounds. Keen to explore how the surrealism of the 30s influences artists today, Michael is persuaded by a young artist, who works with virtual reality, to try on a pair of VR goggles.

In Whitehall, Michael explores the subterranean headquarters of the war cabinet where Winston Churchill, leader of the wartime coalition government, and the Chiefs of Staff of the army, navy and air force discussed how the war would be conducted. Michael is fascinated by the fingernail marks on the armrests of Churchill’s chair.

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About Great British Railway Journeys

Cartographer George Bradshaw produced the first comprehensive timetable and travel guide of Great Britain’s railway system in 1840. Armed with his Bradshaw’s Guide, presenter Michael Portillo travels around the country by train exploring the ways that society and industry have changed since the guide was first published during the Victorian era. In each destination Michael visits local landmarks, meets residents, enjoys local food, and tries his hand at local crafts and manufacture, and considers the legacy of the industrial revolution.

This show is broadcast on BBC Two, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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