Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure

    Author/Presenter: Michael Palin

One hundred years after the birth of Ernest Hemingway, Michael Palin sets out to discover the man behind the legend: a hard-drinking womaniser who liked cats and shooting – but wrote like a dream and left an indelible impression on the twentieth century through his work.

Fuelled by intensive reading for his best-selling novel, Hemingway’s Chair and, as always, driven by a desire to discover new places, Michael Palin attempts to put himself into Hemingway’s World. The past and the present intertwines, sometimes to startling effect, as Michael travels from Chicago to the forests and lakes of north Michigan, and from the First World War battlefields in Italy, to Paris, and Spain where he pauses to learn about the art of bullfighting and to experience Pamplona during the feria and the famous running of the bulls.

 He visits Venice at Carnival time and samples the infectious madness of the unique Fallas festival in Valencia with its burning effigies and ear-splitting fireworks. Hemingway’s wanderlust draws Michael to the island of Key West in Florida, once unspoilt, but where the Hemingway industry now flourishes and a look-alike competition is the high point of the centenary celebrations. It takes him …

Around The World In 80 Days

Author/Presenter: Michael Palin

In the autumn of 1988 Michael Palin set out from the Reform Club to circumnavigate the world, following the route taken by Phileas Fogg 115 years earlier. The rules were simple. He had to make the ‘journey in 80 days and never use aircraft, only forms of transport that would have been available to Fogg.

But if the rules were simple, nothing else was. Palin’s Passepartout was not a loyal French manservant but a 5-person BBC film crew, there to record his every move. The golden age of sea travel with regular timetables and ocean liners was, he discovered, long since dead. State cabins and deck quoits were replaced by crowded Red Sea ferries, mattresses of date sacks on an open dhow, hospital beds on a Yugoslav freighter and bunks on eerily creaking container ships.

He discovered, too, that the days are past when a signed photo of Queen Victoria was enough to admit an Englishman anywhere. Passports, visas, customs forms, carnets delayed him at every frontier – and there were 17 of them.

Whether seeing Venice from the back of a rubbish barge, riding round the Pyramids on a camel called Michael, drifting helplessly in the …

The Body In Question

Author/Presenter: Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller, co-author and a star of the world-famous revue Beyond the Fringe, director of films, plays and, most recently, of operas, qualified as a medical doctor in 1959 and has held a research fellowship in the history of medicine at University College, London. In his remarkable new book, as in the 13-part B.B.C. television series with which it is linked, Dr Miller considers the functioning of the body as a subject of private experience. He explores our attitudes towards the body, our astonishing ignorance about certain parts of it and inability to read its signals.

We are mystified to experience pain in internal organs like the heart or the liver when neither the quality nor the location of the sensation gives a coherent indication of what is going wrong. And to complicate matters we feel the pain in some spot other than the seat of the mischief. But pain, he says, is not the only thing that prompts a person to go through the elaborate social process of ‘falling 111’. It might be finding something-not intrinsically painful, but alarming-like a lump in the breast, or embarrassing, like a drooping eyelid, or inhibiting to efficiency like a …

The Age of Uncertainty

Presenter: John Kenneth Galbraith

The ideas of economists and social philosophers shape actions and events even when we are unaware of their sources. They have a decisive influence on the great rush of revolution and change through which the world has passed in the last two hundred years.
Professor Galbraith traces these ideas and their consequences from Adam Smith, through Marx and Lenin, to Keynes and to the thinking that gave shape to the concepts of the Cold War, the corporation and, now, the conflicts and concerns of the Third World.

It is a notable book, written with Professor Galbraith’s accustomed wit, clarity and high professional competence – the qualities that have made him one of the most widely admired and widely read writers of the time, not only in English but in a full dozen other languages. But this cool and amusing volume is also written for a yet wider audience than his earlier books – it is for all, in fact, who wish to know and understand the sources both of their own ideas and of those that shape the world.

The first chapter, which examines the ideas of the prophets of classical capitalism, leads on to one …

The Great War

In the early 1960s the BBC embarked on one of their most important and ambitious series ever. It was to be the definitive history of the First World War, complete in twenty-six 40-minute episodes. An inspired account of the world-shattering events of 1914-1918, The Great War is narrated by Sir Michael Redgrave and employs the voice skills of many other leading actors of the day including Sir Ralph Richardson and Marius Goring. 

The series includes authentic archive footage and stunning photographic images gathered from 37 separate sources around the world. It also features interviews with many veterans of the war (by this time most were still only in their 60s), as well as almost 150 separate extracts from diaries, letters and reports from the war.

  • “on the idle hill of summer…”
  • “for such a stupid reason too…”
  • “we must hack our way through”
  • “our hats we doff to General Joffre”
  • “this business may last a long time”
  • “so sleep easy in your beds”
  • We Await the Heavenly Manna
  • Why Don’t you Come and Help?
  • Please God Send Us Victory
  • What Are our Allies Doing?
  • Hell Cannot Be so Terrible
  • For Gawd’s Sake Don’t Send Me
  • The Devil is Coming
  • All