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Great Railway Journeys
Format Travel
Country of origin  United Kingdom
No. of episodes 27
Production
Running time 50 or 60 min
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Two
Original run 1980 – 1999

Great Railway Journeys, originally titled Great Railway Journeys of the World, is a recurring series of travel documentaries produced by BBC Television. The premise of each programme is that the presenter, typically a well-known figure from the arts or media, would make a journey by train, usually through a country or to a destination to which they had a personal connection. There were four series broadcast on BBC Two between 1980 and 1999, with the shorter series title being used for all but the first. A new series entitled Great British Railway Journeys started on BBC Two in January 2010.

Contents

Series

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Series 1: Great Railway Journeys of the World (1980)

Episode summary for Series 1: [1]

Episode No. Episode Title UK Broadcast Date Presenter Details of Journey Countries Visited
#1.1 Introduction (extracts from forthcoming episodes in the series) 1980-10-23 - - -
#1.2 "Coast to Coast" 1980-10-30 Ludovic Kennedy New York to Los Angeles USA
#1.3 "The Long Straight" 1980-11-06 Michael Frayn Sydney to Perth Australia
#1.4 "Deccan" 1980-11-13 Brian Thompson Bombay to Cochin India
#1.5 "Confessions of a Trainspotter" 1980-11-27 Michael Palin London to the Kyle of Lochalsh England, Scotland
#1.6 "Zambesi Express" 1980-12-04 Michael Wood Cape Town to Victoria Falls South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe-Rhodesia
#1.7 "Three Miles High" 1980-12-11 Miles Kington Lima to La Paz Peru, Bolivia
#1.8 "Changing Trains" 1980-12-18 Eric Robson Paris to Budapest France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary

Series 2: Great Railway Journeys (1994)

Episode summary for Series 2: [2]

Episode No. Episode Title UK Broadcast Date Presenter Countries Visited
#2.1 "From Hong Kong to Ulan Bator" 1994-01-13 Clive Anderson Hong Kong, China, Mongolia
#2.2 "Cape Town to the Lost City" 1994-01-20 Rian Malan South Africa
#2.3 "St Petersburg to Tashkent" 1994-01-27 Natalia Makarova Russia, Uzbekistan
#2.4 "Derry to Kerry" 1994-02-03 Michael Palin Northern Ireland, Ireland
#2.5 "Santos to Santa Cruz" 1994-02-10 Lisa St Aubin de Terán Brazil, Bolivia
#2.6 "Karachi to the Khyber" 1994-02-17 Mark Tully Pakistan

Series 3: Great Railway Journeys (1996)

Episode summary for Series 3: [2]

Episode No. Episode Title UK Broadcast Date Presenter Countries Visited
#3.1 "Crewe to Crewe" 1996-09-04 Victoria Wood United Kingdom
#3.2 "Aleppo to Aqaba" 1996-09-11 Alexei Sayle Syria, Jordan
#3.3 "Great Zimbabwe to Kilimatinde" 1996-09-18 Henry Louis Gates Jr Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania
#3.4 "The High Andes to Patagonia" 1996-09-25 Buck Henry Argentina
#3.5 "Mombasa to the Mountains of the Moon" 1996-10-02 Benedict Allen Kenya, Uganda
#3.6 "London to Arcadia" 1996-10-09 Ben Okri England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece
#3.7 "Halifax to Porteau Cove" 1996-10-16 Chris Bonington Canada

Series 4: Great Railway Journeys (1999)

Episode summary for Series 4: [2]

Episode No. Episode Title UK Broadcast Date Presenter Details of Journey Countries Visited
#4.1 "India East to West" 1999-01-05 Ian Hislop Calcutta to Rajasthan India
#4.2 "Granada to Salamanca" 1999-01-12 Michael Portillo See episode title Spain
#4.3 "Tokyo to Kagoshima" 1999-01-19 Fergal Keane See episode title Japan
#4.4 "Los Mochis to Veracruz" 1999-01-26 Rick Stein See episode title Mexico
#4.5 "Guantanamo to Pinar del Rio" 1999-02-02 Nick Hancock See episode title Cuba
#4.6 "St Louis to Dogon Country" 1999-02-09 Danny Glover See episode title Senegal, Mali
#4.7 "Singapore to Bangkok" 1999-04-06 Stephen Tompkinson See episode title Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand

Great Little Railways

In 1983 the BBC made a further series on rail travel (entitled "Great Little Railways"), this time exclusively featuring narrow gauge railways.[3]

Episode No. Episode Title UK Broadcast Date Presenter Details of Journey Countries Visited
1 "The Gold Rush Line" 1983-02-15 Simon Hoggart White Pass and Yukon Railroad Alaska, USA and Yukon, Canada
2 "The Other Poland" 1983-02-22 Brian Blessed See episode title Poland
3 "Slow Train to Olympia" 1983-03-01 Michael Wood Athens to Olympia Greece
4 "Dragons of Sugar Island" 1983-03-08 Colin Garratt See episode title Philippines
5 "Line of Dreams" 1983-03-15 not known Jodhpur and Jaipur [4] India
6 "Journey to the Land Behind the Mountains" 1983-03-22 Ray Gosling Douro Valley Portugal
7 "The Good and Quick" 1983-03-29 John Shrapnel Quayaquil to Quito Ecuador

Great British Railway Journeys

In January 2010, a new 20-part series entitled Great British Railway Journeys started on BBC2, presented by Michael Portillo, who had previously presented an episode of Great Railway Journeys.[5][6]

DVD and books

Although there have been no complete series of Great Railway Journeys released on DVD, Michael Palin's 1980 and 1994 programmes are available individually (BBCDVD1626) and as part of a box set of his collected travel documentaries, The Michael Palin Collection (BBCDVD2214).

Books have been published to accompany the first three series, with a chapter by each of the presenters on their particular journey:

  • Frayn, M. et al. (1981), Great Railway Journeys of the World, BBC Books, hardcover, ISBN 0-563-17903-1
  • Anderson, C. et al. (1994), Great Railway Journeys, BBC Books, hardcover, ISBN 0-563-36944-2
  • Allen, B. et al. (1996), More Great Railway Journeys, BBC Books, hardcover, ISBN 0-563-38717-3

The BBC are considering releasing a new DVD, incorporating the complete four series, early in 2009, however they are seeing how many requests they get from viewers.

External links

References


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