Joanna Lumley is a very well known British actress who has specialised in playing upper class roles (with a distinctive voice that reinforces this) and in the well-known Absolutely Fabulous series she epitomises everything I seek to avoid. When she first started doing travel shows, I avoided them thinking that she was the last person that I’d ever want to be watching as her style must surely be so different to my own.
But I was very wrong. The characters she plays are very different to the person behind them as I have now discovered. Her background is one that I can relate to as she also lived in several exotic countries as a child: she was born in India and her family lived England, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Lumley is also known for her support for Gurkhas (her father was a decorated Gurkha officer who fought in World War II), the exiled Tibetan people and government, the Kondha indigenous people of India and the Prospect Burma charity, which offers grants to Burmese students; along with a range of other charities.
Joanna is a more recent convert to the travel genre but she is building up quite a repertoire of documentaries that she both presents and produces:
Joanna Lumley in the Land of the Northern Lights (2008). Joanna Lumley pursues a life-long dream to track down the elusive and beautiful Northern Lights. She travels North across the Arctic Circle, up through Norway and finally to Svalbard, the most northerly permanently inhabited place on Earth, where she has to cope with temperatures approaching minus 30° C. Her journey takes her from train to boat and husky-sled to snowmobile as she is pulled ever northwards and finally, she gets to see the spectacular beauty of the Northern Lights – the Aurora Borealis. I saw this on television but you can also see it on YouTube.
Joanna Lumley’s Nile (2010). Joanna Lumley embarks on the trip of a lifetime; to follow the River Nile. On a 4000 mile journey Joanna revisits the romantic history of the longest river in the world and talks with the people working and living there today. As she travels past pyramids and ancient temples through deserts jungle and war torn landscapes Joanna’s charm enthusiasm and graceful fortitude carries us along a fascinating and epic journey.
Joanna Lumley’s Greek Odyssey (2011). Greece is where western civilisation began; drama, democracy, language, science, philosophy and medicine all originated from here. This country has given the world so much, leaving an enduring legacy on the fabric of our everyday life. In this four-part series, Lumley embarks on her own Greek Odyssey to explore Europe’s most influential country, a land so rich in history, myth and romance. From the Greek islands to its far northern borders, from Mount Olympus to Corfu, “Joanna’s passion for travel and understanding of people makes for some of the best travel documentaries on television”.
Joanna Lumley’s Ark (2012). This trip encompasses 3 continents and also involved adventurously venturing into Iran, in search of Noah’s Ark. Noah’s Ark and the catastrophic global flood is one of the oldest tales of all time – a story that has great meaning to Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths. In this documentary, Lumley travels from a small village church in the UK, to Turkey, India and Oman, and behind the scenes at the British Museum, as she discovers more about the account of Noah, the flood and the ‘ark’. I watched this on YouTube.
Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventure (2015). In this new series Lumley travels 6400 miles from Hong Kong to Moscow, along the Trans-Siberian Railway – it is definitely on my keep an eye out for a chance to watch list.
Intrepid Travel (a range of different travel styles – see my post on travel styles)
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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