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Michael Palin is set to revisit some of his incredible travels around the world as part of a new BBC Two documentary Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime. In just over 20 years, the actor-turned-explorer documented his adventures across the North and South Poles, Africa, China, Russia and South East Asia.
During that time, he connected people across a spectrum of cultures and got to witness some phenomenal changes in the world.
“In just over 20 years I filmed eight series in every corner of the globe, building up an enormous stack of memories and experiences,” said Mr Palin.
“They were indeed Travels of a Lifetime and I sometimes think I need another lifetime to take them all in.”
Though the world has definitely witnessed some major shifts in recent years, with the coronavirus pandemic, in particular, overhauling the entire way we approach world travel, Mr Palin said there are some places that really stand out.
“Some places have changed more than others,” he pointed out.
“China, for instance, has changed out of all recognition – cars
instead of bicycles, jeans and T-shirts instead of Maoist boiler suits, skyscrapers instead of shantytowns.”
Mr Palin first documented his travels to China in 1988 documentary Around the world in 80 Days.
By the time he revisited in 1997 documentary Full Circle with Michael Palin, the travel enthusiast was already shocked to see how dramatic some of the changes to the nation were.
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He specifically notes how modern Chinese trains have become since his first journey there.
Witnessing these changes, it just one of the things that has made global exploration so eye-opening for Mr Palin.
“I didn’t set out on any major travels until I was 45, so I’d read a lot about foreign places and taken in a lot of foreign movies and books, but I found they were no substitute for the real thing,” he said.
“Once on the road sights, sounds, tastes, comforts and conditions were quite different from what I’d heard about.
“Travelling woke up my senses and emotions and showed me a whole new way of life.”
This education to far-flung nations and ways of life is why the TV traveller places such an importance on global exploration.
He describes feeling “lucky” to have had the “opportunity not just to travel but to report back” on the different experiences he has gotten to enjoy.
“Real travel is more about asking questions than discovering answers,” he adds.
In the new BBC Two documentary, airing on Sunday, he will get to relive some of his most impressive travel moments.
For the first time, Mr Palin will take a look back on archived footage from the creation of four of his famous documentary series – Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Full Circle and Sahara.
Some familiar faces will also join the programme, including Sir David Attenborough, Simon Reeve and Joanna Lumley sharing how they feel the actor encouraged them to embark on their own journeys.
Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime will air on BBC Two at 8pm on Sunday.
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