Chris Tarrant: Excessive Railway Journeys assessment, in this episode “Destination Timbuktu”

November 15, 2017

ronting a journey programme must be the final word TV job. Chris Tarrant might not be on the helm of primetime quiz exhibits, however Chris Tarrant: Excessive Railway Journeys (Channel 5) looks as if a pleasant, cosy place for him to land. Journey the world, discuss to digital camera a bit, put ft up. However what must be a pleasant excuse for a working vacation is trying an increasing number of like a tough prospect within the fashionable age. Journey exhibits are in a state of flux with low cost flights which means it’s typically potential to get from the UK to a European metropolis for lower than a prepare fare. You don’t even have to go away your front room, actually: merely sort “Hadrian’s Wall”, for instance, into Google Maps and get a direct, first-person 360-degree perspective. Then there’s the truth that, as tourism has boomed, so too has the anti-tourist backlash, with cities creaking below the burden of their Airbnb friends.

Chris Tarrant: Excessive Railway Journeys.

The place does the journey collection sit in these instances? Ought to it showcase more and more acquainted locations by way of new eyes, or ought to it discover new, comparatively undiscovered areas and threat ruining them by publicity? Sue Perkins’ current journey down the Ganges was a semi-confessional travelogue that provided stunning intimacy. Levison Wooden walks all over the place – which is extra spectacular because it’s the Himalayas or the size of South America relatively than, say, a stroll to the native Tesco. Richard Ayoade’s Journey Man finds wry intrigue in cities’ vacationer traps by exposing standup comedians to native customs, equivalent to zorbing. All are a manner of respiration new life into the format, turning journey into relatable expertise, relatively than a distant spectacle, when it’s probably not so distant any extra.
Then there’s Chris Tarrant: Excessive Railway Journeys. I don’t imply to choose on Tarrant, or kick a Channel 5 present when it’s down, however he’s one in every of quite a few presenters who plough an identical furrow. Tarrant jogs my memory most of Rick Stein, whose Lengthy Weekends are sometimes an train in find out how to be as patronising to locals as potential.

Run the size of Morocco’s nationwide railway system

Together with his railway gimmick, Tarrant is a form of Stein-lite, bumbling by way of environments, desperately attempting to not imitate the accents of the folks he’s speaking to (and he doesn’t at all times handle it). On this opening episode of the collection, he’s in north Africa. “The intention is to journey your entire size of Morocco’s state-owned railway system on the hottest time of the 12 months in the midst of the interval the place no person eats or drinks,” he explains, declining so as to add a much-needed reply to the query of why. With out such caveats it might be Chris Tarrant: Railway Journeys, which, I suppose, isn’t fairly so showy.

Railway Journeys “Destination Timbuktu”

Nonetheless, what Tarrant learns in Morocco is bafflingly particular. He’s obsessed along with his early discovery that the railway stations and trains on this nation are clear, and brings it up with insistent regularity. He’s additionally fast to notice when trains are late. “It’s possible you’ll be questioning, the place is that this freight prepare? Effectively, so am I,” he grumbles. I used to be questioning why he’s filming with a coat on in 40C (104F) climate, notably since one in every of his different observations is that it’s scorching. He’s seemingly thrown by Arabic names, and says issues like, “Chris. Good and simple,” when he introduces himself. When a lady named Leila tells him what she’s known as, he will get carried away: “Good title!” he beams, then begins to sing Eric Clapton’s Layla, and briefly strums an air guitar.

It’s Alan Partridge-like in different methods, too – Tarrant limps as a result of the new tarmac has melted the only of only a single shoe – nevertheless it’s not the doddery-ness of all of it that jars. It’s the truth that, as a journey presenter, making an attempt to point out viewers elements of the world which may be new to them, he’s so resolutely uncurious, so unwilling to see past what he already is aware of. When he will get to Taza, he jokes, twice, about it being a city named after him – a few of his associates name him Tazza – however he additionally casually decides that “there’s not lots to see or do round right here”. It’s like a restaurant critic complaining that there’s solely meals in entrance of them, so what are they supposed to put in writing about?

It’s not Tarrant that’s the issue, precisely. He’s solely one in every of a sure breed. However it’s odd that this old-hand TV presenter made me ponder whether it was time for journey programmes to develop up a little bit bit.

In this episode Chris Tarrant to decide to travel to Morocco. It’s summer, the temperatures are pretty hot, Chris is on a mission to discover a legendary railway through the desert in Timbuktu, if it’s a reality or a dream that will be stuck in the heart of Sahara…