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Jo’s Blog: An escape from reality - some wonderful armchair viewing

It may be a bit grim out there and so, ever the optimist and seeking some inspiration, I decided to take some solace in a little additional armchair time and vowed to try and catch up on some of the current TV travel shows.

I'm pleased I did. We are all desperate for some kind of escape from reality and although that may not be physically possible right now, for a few hours I was totally absorbed in wonderful places, journeys and sights from around the globe.

Many a bucket list will have been expanded thanks to some of television's most engaging and charismatic travellers sharing their time and stories. If you didn’t manage to catch some of the following, I highly recommend that you get comfortable and allow yourself to become immersed.

A Perfect Planet

The velvety tones of the wise old sage, David Attenborough, are still hard to beat and his new five- part series, A Perfect Planet, began with a look at how, without volcanoes, there would be no life on earth.

The series focuses on how incredible, awe-inspiring life is driven by its natural forces and how we can ensure humans become a force for good. Sir David never fails to draw me in and I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions I didn’t think was possible in the space of an hour.

Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime

Michael Palin is another of our national treasures and the godfather of the travel documentary.

The autumn saw BBC2 revisit his journals and revealed his personal stories from his most iconic travel shows, including his astonishing journey of discovery to the Himalayas in 2004.

Christmas saw a one-off special with us being able to listen to him from the comfort of his own home, reflecting on the trip his younger self made. Totally brilliant.

Caribbean with Simon Reeve

The younger generation of travel documentarians is led by the intelligent and charming, Simon Reeve, whose three-part BBC series took us around the edge of the Caribbean Sea and gave us a fascinating look at one of the most beautiful, vibrant, exciting and extreme regions on our planet.

Waterhole: Africa's Animal Oasis

I was utterly captivated with Chris Packham’s incredible Waterhole, Africa’s Animal Oasis. I decided to feature Tanzania as a highly recommended safari option and this programme perfectly illustrated why.

In a groundbreaking event, the BBC’s Natural History Unit partnered with the Mwiba Wildlife Reserve in Tanzania, to build the world's first waterhole with a built-in specialist camera rig.

With half-submerged and weather-proofed remote cameras, Chris and biologist Ella Al-Shamahi’s aim was to uncover the complex dynamics of the waterhole for the very first time. Filming across three dramatic periods, they gained unique and captivating insight into the lives of some of Africa’s most iconic animals.

South Africa with Gregg Wallace

Occasionally I find ITV manage to step up to the plate with something that stands up against the might of the BBC’s travel related offerings and I did enjoy the first of Gregg Wallace’s escape from the MasterChef kitchen for a jaunt around South Africa in his new six-part food-themed travelogue.

In this opening instalment Wallace visits the stunning safari landscapes of the Amakhala game reserve, tracking leopards and staring agog at warthogs and giraffes, before snacking on some beef biltong and sampling the open-fire stew potjiekos.

I have never underestimated the power of a good television show to drive consumer interest and whet appetites for a specific destination and it was good to be reminded of ones that will have had that effect on many others, along with myself.

I am certain that several life lists will have been updated accordingly and I look forward to discussing making those adventures come to life over more positive times ahead.


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