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AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS - 20th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

Michael sets out on Around the World in 80 Days The 20th Anniversary Special Edition of Around The World In Eighty Days is not a brand new Palin book, but an entirely re-designed version of the BBC original, first published in 1989 and which, so they tell me, has now sold over a million copies. This one has a completely new layout, lots of new photos, a new preface and, to bring it right up to date, the diary of my return to Dubai and Mumbai twenty years after we first filmed there.

Around The World In Eighty Days was a journey that changed my life. From being and actor and a writer of silly jokes, I suddenly became a television tour guide, and, in the company of my trusty crew, have, in seven series, crossed every continent in the world. If Around The World In Eighty Days changed my life, it was Episode Three - Ancient Mariners - that changed Around The World In Eighty Days. Almost overnight it was transformed from a well-received travel series to an un-missable adventure. The week I spent on a dhow, travelling painfully slowly from the Dubai to Bombay (now Mumbai), out of contact with the rest of the world, sleeping on top of the cargo and using a barrel slung over the side as a toilet, captured the imagination. After the dhow, the book sales and the audience figures took off.

No wonder then that when it came to ideas for celebrating twenty years on the road it was the dhow journey which came top of the list. Rather than just show it again, I decided to try and find out what happened to the "Al Shama" and to the crew who sailed it. So we set off in October 2008 for a return visit to old haunts and old friends. The result, a one-hour documentary, Around The World In Twenty Years, was first shown on BBC One on December 30th 2008. My account of our attempt to discover the fate of the dhow and her crew, and the changes I found in the Gulf and India after twenty years, are all part of the Special Edition book and are fully available on Palin's Travels.

I hope you'll enjoy the copious photos of the journey which have only just come to light, and the additional, all new, diary entries.

Whoever said nostalgia's not what it used to be ?

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Michael Palin, 16th January, 2009.