Watch more TV! Well, perhaps for the next three Sunday evenings. ITV is screening a mini-series of programmes featuring the travelling tales of a certain Ms. Joanna Lumley as she heads across the Trans-Siberian Railway, East to West on a trip organised by Russia Experience (that’s us!) Of course, the train journey itself is not the attraction; the lives, destinations and cultures encountered along the way are.
The initial episode is due to be broadcast on Sunday 12th July at 9pm and features some of the host’s explorations, including a re-visit to China. She lived in Hong Kong for 2 years as a child and admitted in a recent interview that although memories of her time there are vague, impressions of the city remain – although somewhat confounded by the dramatic physical changes that have been imposed upon the former colony over subsequent decades. Also featured is the magnificence of the Great Wall of China, a bullet-train ride to Beijing and a meeting with a Madame Marr, who knew the most favoured concubine of the last Emperor.
Departing from China, we then follow the host deep into Mongolia as she gains an insight into the lives and culture of the country’s inhabitants.
Interestingly, events within her life have forged a connection with both extremities of the railway’s span. As well as her childhood experience in the East, her career saw her modelling in Moscow on a 1966 assignment from Vanity Fair. This was during the height of the Russian Communist era and a mere 4 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Security at the time was tight, with official chaperones dogging the crew at every step. Standing in the same hotel 50 years later she remarks upon the contrast in atmosphere and levity. As if the re-decoration has not only painted out the drab surroundings but re-coloured the lives of the inhabitants too.
The series, produced by Burning Bright Productions, is Joanna Lumley’s latest travelogue in her forever-expanding portfolio of acting, activism and TV presenting. She is also credited as Executive Producer on the show and was voted as “Top Travel Companion for the Over 50’s” earlier this year, beating the titanic Michael Palin into second place! No mean feat.
The logical conclusion would be a double-header Lumley/Palin spin-off travelogue where they drive each other crazy in far away places, to the bemusement/amusement of various indigenous peoples. A sure ratings winner.
The later episodes of the Trans-Siberian Adventure include a ballet school in Perm, a trip to a gold mine, a visit to a Rolls-Royce dealership and a drive with a billionairess, a trip to Chekhov’s house in his Siberian “Paris of the East”, samovars and more. Enjoy.
You can view our full range of Trans-Siberian trips here.
[Photo by ITV]