Paul O’Grady’s Great British Escape – 11 November 2020 – 11/11/2020 – Wednesday – ITV
In episode one, Paul kicks-off his adventure by taking to the skies in style, hacking hops, meeting a moody sea eagle and learning the secrets behind a stunning historical castle.
Paul says: “I was born in a quaint little hamlet called Tranmere in Birkenhead and when I grew up I emigrated down south and had quite a good fling with London for a few years. Then I found myself down here in Kent and I’ve been here for over 20 happy years, I love the place.”
Paul decides the best way to experience the beautiful Kent countryside is from the air and he takes to the skies in a 1935 Tiger Moth plane, previously used for training pilots in the war.
Paul says: “I tell you what, my old dad would be proud if he was alive, because he was in the RAF in the war.”
Paul climbs in behind pilot Gavin and braces himself for the bumpy ride in the windy skies. Even the news that he’ll be wearing a parachute for the flight doesn’t put him off.
Taking in the view of the famous chalky cliffs of Dover, Paul says: “When you see the white cliffs of Dover and you think this is the first thing the pilots saw when they were flying back from a mission in France, they must have breathed a sigh of relief. It makes you sort of proud…This should be on the National Health for people with depression – just magnificent.”
Kent has one of the warmest climates in the UK, making it ideal for growing masses of fruit, vegetables and plants.
Paul heads to Castle Farm to learn more about local hop production. Hops are the key ingredient that give beer its aroma and flavour. Paul meets William, whose family have been hopping since 1892.
He climbs up the ladder to be pulled along by a tractor to hack down the hops by hand with a knife. Paul says: “Health and safety would have a bloody field day if they saw me doing this…”
Well-known for his love of animals, Paul then heads to Eagle Heights, the UK’s biggest Bird of Prey Rescue Centre.
Paul meets Thelma, the Centre’s barn owl who was abandoned as a chick. Rare bird specialist Jonny tries to entice her over by mimicking the sound of her mother. Barn owls have suffered so much habitat loss that they have now become an endangered species.
Paul says: “I’ve got six barn owls and my first one came from Birmingham, she was found living in a wardrobe because of Harry Potter. I got Minnie and then I got a male and of course nature happens and I ended up with six barn owls. They were at it like hammer and tongs!”
Paul is also keen to meet the sanctuary’s biggest bird, Skye, a sea eagle who weighs a hefty 10 pounds and needs to land on Paul’s arm for retrieve her prey. Paul isn’t fazed by her size: “Like a small Labrador landing on your arm? I’ve been there…”
Kent is home to 30 stunning castles and arguably the most famous is Hever castle, built in 1383 and the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.
The castle’s curator Owen explains more about The King’s pursuit of Anne and the marriage which ultimately led to her death.
Paul also enjoys the immaculate gardens and intriguingly shaped topiary trees, before agreeing to pick up some shears and lend a hand. There is just the small matter of not getting lost in the castle maze…
About Paul O’Grady’s Great British Escape
“Kent is known as the garden of England but her beauty has been slightly tarnished lately because all you hear about Kent is lorry parks and operation stack on the M20. I think it’s about time Kent was given a fair hearing because there’s some lovely stuff down here and a hell of a lot I haven’t seen, you know.” Paul O’Grady
In this brand new six-part ITV series, presenter Paul O’Grady shares the beautiful sights, stories and secrets of his beloved adopted home county, Kent.
With foreign holidays off the cards, Paul’s heading off in search of thrills, spills and misadventure on his very own doorstep, from his Kent farm. He will escape across all corners of the county to discover the weird, wonderful, extraordinary and unusual gems that Kent has to offer. From exploring some of the county’s extraordinary scenery and wildlife to unearthing quirky tales of local history and tradition – Paul is on a mission to share the ultimate Kent staycation and lots of laughter along the way.
This show is broadcast on ITV.
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