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The Incredible Journey

Billy Connolly’s journey along the north-west passage, recently on ITV, is on DVD. I just got a chance to review it and wow, some of the stuff (especially the scenery) is just…well, amazing.

My review’s below

Following in the footsteps of Stephen Fry and, most notably, Michael Palin, Billy Connolly is the most recent comedian to record a travel series for TV. In “Journey To The Edge Of The World,” Connolly does what many esteemed travellers have failed to do, travel the north-west passage, travelling by land, sea and air through the Arctic Circle from Nova Scotia to Vancouver, sampling the food, culture and scenery along the way.

The two-disc collection of the series includes all four forty-minute episodes, along with Connolly’s previously unseen confessional-style travelogue that provides something of a behind-the-scenes look at all four episodes.

Connolly’s travels take him from the familiar to the alien, both in terms of landscape and culture: in fact, Connolly’s journey begins in a very familiar Scottish-and-European influenced Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. As the series continues, however, we’re treated to some magnificent scenery, involving icebergs, glaciers and magnificent mountain ranges. In the face of this, it’s refreshing to see a very human side to the always-on Connolly, especially by the end of the second episode when he observes a seal-hunt (not one for the squeamish or to be watching over dinner).

It’s Connolly’s observations that make this series worthwhile, and while many might wonder why Connolly, Fry and Palin end up doing series like this, you merely need to compare and contrast with Judith Chalmers and Kathryn Thomas. Connolly is a comedian at heart, something that we can still appreciate (even when discussing his need to pee in a bottle) but seeing his reaction to a melting glacier underfoot is not funny, especially not when Connolly reminds us that, a few years ago, his journey would have been impossible, only now proving able to do so due to climate change.

The only downside to “Journey To The Edge Of The World” is that the sheer magnificent scenery leaves you wanting more, and with a two disc presentation, a travelogue doesn’t quite tick all the boxes for expectations of special features.

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