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Where Next ? by Michael Palin on 8 May 2006 6:06pm
 
It's been far too long since the last message, but I'm pleased that the site goes on regardless and there are plenty of issues raised and travellers talking to each other without my getting in the way !

Truth is that I haven't been doing much travelling myself over the last few months as I've been working on a volume of my diaries, covering the period 1969 to 1979, which are to be published in October this year, and purely coincidentally, around about the time that Eric Idle's Spamalot, based on Monty Python And The Holy Grail (book now!) opens in the West End of London. I've also briefly revived my acting career, playing the Narrator in Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls for Radio 4's classic serial. (Part One went out Saturday 29th April at 9 o'clock and Part Two on Saturday 6th May). It should be available online on the BBC website. And you can also hear my dulcet tones in Simon Gray's Quartermaine's Terms, on Saturday 17th June, also Radio 4.

Now back to the important stuff. In mid-May I and the regular crew from Himalaya and Sahara will be embarking on a new journey, planning to make 6 one-hour programmes for BBC-1 on what we are currently calling "Palin's New Europe" - I've always disliked having my name above the geographical title but for the moment it distinguishes my new Europe from Donald Rumsfeld's New Europe or Keira Knightley's New Europe or Wayne Rooney's non-Europe.

So what is Palin's New Europe ? At the moment it is a combination of twenty-one countries all of which were once in the Soviet bloc and are now either part of or about to be part of the EU, as well as countries like Turkey which are considering applying to join the EU. We shall visit many countries, like Bosnia, Albania, Moldova and Macedonia, of which we may know the names and not the detail.

The idea is to look at the way people live now in countries which will all be part of the EU over the next few years - hence the New Europe in the title. Many of these countries didn't exist when I was born (63 years ago this May 5th !) and those that did exist have been through difficult times. I hope that the series will reflect an optimism about the new Europe, but we shall show whatever we get.

I'm looking forward very much to learning something about my own continent. We shall try to get off the beaten track and to convey some of the beauty of the remote, unspoilt parts of Europe, whilst never being more than three hours' flying time away from my new grandson, Archie, born on St Patrick's Day (March 17th) this year - and the most beautiful boy you could ever wish to see (apart from all the others!).

The itinerary for our journey will be constantly changing and forgive me if I don't give away anything more about the series until we're decided on exactly what's going to be in it, otherwise we might raise false hopes and give a few wrong impressions. I hope you'll appreciate if I go a little quiet whilst we do the filming. Much of what we shoot will be spontaneous, so I can't even tell you what we're doing ! But I'll definitely tell you what I can whenever I can. I know that sounds like a real politicians answer !

What I can tell you is that there will be a book to go with the journey (Basil Pao is sharpening his cameras even as we speak) and that it will come out, along with the TV series, in the autumn of next year, 2007.

I hope you regular and faithful followers of the website will be making plans for more travels yourselves. There's much talk these days about the cost to the environment of our insatiable urge to move around. My view is that until the aeroplane is dis-invented then we should continue to use it to learn more about our world. But you know my personal view by now. Simply flying to a resort which looks just like home and learning and absorbing nothing of the country you're in IS a waste, not only of the world's resources, but also your own brain. Please travel but use this precious privilege (available only to a tiny minority in the world) to try and understand, appreciate, value and enjoy how other people live. Only in this way can we who love travel, go some way to reducing the well of anger and resentment which motivates those few, but influential people, who don't want us to get to know each other.

End of sermon. I must go and get the second of my anti tick-borne encephalitis jabs. Apparently the little bastards, sorry, our dear sweet little brother and sister ticks, are lurking in the forests of Central Europe, along with the boars, the bears, the vampires waiting to bite my bits.

Happy travels ! Look and learn !

Michael
 



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