AFTER COMPLETING New Europe in 2007 I found many good reasons to take off my travelling boots and put my feet up on the sofa. Almost twenty years had passed since I’d set off on Around The World In Eighty Days. Since then I and my tireless crew had travelled every continent and seen so much that, rather than keep on doing it, I felt it was time to sit back and take in what we’d done.
But once a traveller, always a traveller, and I realized that however happy I might be at home, as long as there were maps and guide books and airline schedules I was still fatally susceptible to the lure of the open road. And although I had visited every continent there was one country, almost as big as a continent, that I knew nothing about, and that was Brazil.
Apart from being in a film of the same name, directed by Terry Gilliam in 1985, all I knew about Brazil was that it represented sun, sea, samba and the most successful national football teams in history. But as our Western world tipped into recession, Brazil emerged in a more serious guise. It was the ‘B’ of the BRICs, one of those economies surging forwards as fast as we were sliding backwards. In 2012, they leap-frogged the UK to become the world’s fifth-largest economy. Suddenly there were lessons we could learn from them, there was an export market we desperately needed. Trade delegations were being hastily assembled and shipped out to São Paulo and Brasília. Economists were writing glowing essays and environmentalists beginning to nod approvingly. As London began to plan for her own Olympics, the venue for the next games was highlighted. It was of course, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The 2014 World Cup was going to be hosted by the country that had won the trophy more often than any other: Brazil. As all roads once led to Rome, it now seemed that all roads led to Rio. A second New World was opening up.
It became glaringly obvious that in all my travels, I’d missed a bit. And a very large bit too. Twice the size of India, for heaven’s sake. Not only must I go to see Brazil, but I would probably need to go several times, just to take it all in. And given the size and scale and beauty and vivacity of the place it seemed a good idea to take a television crew as well. I asked around. Most of the old crew, and some new faces, leapt at the chance. The BBC nodded agreement and in June 2011 we set off on the first of four shoots, which were completed in April 2012.
Choose another day from Test