British TV is packed with loads of inspiring programmes this Christmas-time: from high octane racing, breathtaking wildlife shows and epic journeys across the four corners of the globe. Check out these gems to inspire your travels in 2014 and beyond.
Bear’s Wild Weekend With Stephen Fry, 25th December, 8.30pm C4
What do you get if you combine the dry wit of actor and presenter Stephen Fry with the audacious adventure skills of survivalist Bear Grylls? A wild weekend in the Italian Dolomites of course! Bear sets Stephen a series of nerve-trembling challenges, from descending a waterfall to riding on the skids of a helicopter.
Downton Abbey – 25th December, 8.30pm ITV
Here’s to a cheerier season for the Crawley family (RIP Matthew) whose feature length edition (2 whole hours) sees a whole host of famous faces making an appearance, as well as a trip to Buckingham Palace. And if you’re one of the few who haven’t visited Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey, in Newbury, then 2014 is the perfect time.
Idris Elba: King Of Speed – 26th December, 8.15pm BBC
Idris Elba, star of British TV series Luther and the movie Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, gets to live a boyhood dream as he explores the colourful history of car racing. The King of Speed two part series takes his across the world whilst also allowing him to experience the thrill of driving various competition vehicles.
Ben & James Versus The Arabian Desert – 26th December, 9.15 BBC2
Stay tuned on BBC2 as Ben Fogle and James Cracknell reunite to cross part of the infamous Rub' al Khali Desert, which is nicknamed the Empty Quarter. Spanning Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE and Yemen, the two part series sees Ben and James train with Bedouins and venture into the mysterious desert atop grump camels.
Michael Palin in Wyeth’s World, 29th December, 9pm BBC2
The much-loved star of Monty Python heads to rural USA to learn about the life and works of realist painter Andrew Wyeth. Michael explores Chadds Ford in Pennsylvania; where Wyeth was born and died in January 2009. He also visits Cushing in Maine, which was where Wyeth kept a summer home.
The Sacred Wonders of Britain, 30th December, 8.30pm BBC2
Historian and archaeologist Neil Oliver explores the revered sites of ancient Britain in this new three part BBC TV series. As the previous presenter on gems such as A History of Scotland and Coast, Neil is perfectly placed to investigate early religion in the UK and how it shaped the landscapes and architecture.
Nature’s Weirdest Events, 31st December, 8pm BBC2
This three part series is bound to inspire your travels in 2014 and beyond as Chris Packham investigates the weirdest events in nature. This is the third series from naturalist and wildlife enthusiast Chris, who discovers killer sharks on a golf course in Australia, dogs that commute the Moscow Metro and a town that is under siege from tumbleweed!
PQ17:An Arctic Convoy Disaster – 2nd January 2014, 9pm BBC2
Controversial presenter Jeremy Clarkson recounts the tale of the dangerous convoys that kept the Russian soldiers armed during World War II. The serious story is offset with some stunning shots of the stark yet fascinating Arctic area, as well as Russia.
Dolphins: Spy In The Pod, 2nd January 2014, 8pm BBC1
Utilising the same camera skills as in the earlier documentary series, Penguins: Spy In The Huddle, the BBC introduces us to pods of dolphins. Narrated by David Tennant, the programme uses cameras disguised as a turtle, tuna and even another dolphin to capture the daily lives of bewitching spinner and bottlenose dolphins on film.
And if you miss any of these great shows, they’re all available on the various catch-up and on-demand TV services:
The Whale – 22nd December, 9pm BBC1
This new big-budget one-off drama stars Jonas Armstrong (of Robin Hood fame) in a period drama that tells the tale of a shipwrecked whaling ship in the South Pacific. The Essex’s voyage in the 19th century is recounted from the 14 year old cabin boy’s view.