Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime – 18 October 2020 – 18/10/2020 – Sunday – BBC Two

Series 1 Episode 3 of 4

In his third series, Michael Palin took on his most ambitious journey yet – a 50,000-mile route around the Pacific Rim, taking in Russia, China, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand and North and South America. This huge undertaking stretches him and the crew to their limits, and it sees Michael adopt a more investigative role as he seeks to get under the skin of the places he visits – from a booming South Korea to Colombia with its drug wars and poverty.

The journey starts in Alaska, then takes Michael to far eastern Russia, an area that has only recently become accessible in post-Soviet times. He visits the site of a gulag with a survivor of the camps and reflects on the evils of the system that devised such a place. Keen to see how Asia is booming, he moves on to China and is struck by the huge changes going on – buildings going up everywhere, the economy starting to boom, in ways that seem to echo the Industrial Revolution in Britain. In South Korea, he sees more economic progress and finds out how the country has developed away from the oppressive influence of Japan. He then enters North Korea – but only for a moment. In Vietnam, Michael encounters more rapid social and economic development and also considers the legacy of the Vietnam War as he visits a relic of the conflict.

After his journey is delayed by his need to fly home to see his wife, who has become ill, there are doubts about whether Michael will continue. But he does, taking on South America and experiencing a magical trip through the Pongo de Mainique gorge in Peru – one of his favourites of all his destinations. In Bogota, Michael is faced with a bleaker side of the continent, seeing the effects of drugs poverty and crime in the company of a British journalist. And he sees more desperation at the Mexican-American border, before returning to Alaska, where he only just fails to complete the circle due to bad weather.


About Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime

Michael revisit his TV travels, and fans reflect on his achievement.

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

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