Silk Road Siren

Silk Road Adventure

by Ben Felsenburg 

It would have been enough, surely, for any ordinary mortal to have given the world not only the immortal Purdey bowl- cut from The New Avengers, but also Ab Fab’s ineffable Patsy. But Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventure (Wednesday, ITV, 9pm) is only the latest epic leg of the star’s most recent career, in which she’s elevated the travelogue to perfect champagne entertainment as a sort of chic Michael Palin, the ever-curious Englishwoman abroad. Having explored Greece, India, Japan, Egypt and even the expanse of the trans-Siberian railway, this time the star is following in the footsteps of Marco Polo over four episodes and tackling nothing less than the 7,000 mile Silk Road, all the way from Europe to the further reaches of the East. The starting point is Marco's home city of Venice, where once 30,000 silk workers turned out rich fabrics for those who could afford them. Now only one silk house is left, but what treasures it contains, and after viewing material costing 5,000 Euros a metre, Lumley is sorely tempted by dazzling pink embroidered handbags. There’s temptation too on the canals, as she admires a powerfully muscled gondolier in his costume, our hostess is moved to exclaim: ‘ooh, how lovely!’ as we move on the journey is full of surprises, not least among the fascinating Roman remains in Albania, before Lumley discovers the opulent lifestyle available only to the very wealthiest in Istanbul. Patsy would feel right at home.


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