To mark the 20th anniversary of Michael Palin's first travelogue – Around The World In Eighty Days – he has once again left UK shores on a journey in which he will take a new look at an old adventure.
Currently called Eighty Days Revisited and due to be broadcast as a one-hour special on BBC One later this year, the programme follows Michael as he returns to the scene of one of the best-remembered sequences of all his travel adventures: the dhow journey from Dubai to Bombay (episode three of the original series).
In the original adventure, as Michael sailed agonisingly slowly down the Persian Gulf on board one of world's oldest surviving traditional sailing ships, he and his team formed a unique relationship with their Indian crew.
Mutual incomprehension gradually gave way to friendship and affection as they accepted the fact that their lives, and the success of the journey, was in the hands of this band of ragged, underpaid sailors from Gujarat!
After a week together at sea, Michael found their farewell at Bombay to be one of the most emotional moments on all his travels.
Commenting on film at the time, Michael said: "It's almost impossible to accept that I shall never see them again."
Twenty years after they waved each other goodbye – and with the same cameraman who shot the original dhow journey – Michael hopes to prove that nothing is impossible as he sets out to search for the crew of the Al-Shama.
His adventure takes in Dubai and continues to Bombay, now Mumbai, where he finds out whether, in the intervening 20 years, the great teeming city has changed in more than just name.
Next it's on to the little town on the Indian Ocean from where many of Al-Shama's crew hailed. What will happen here is far from certain, but Michael hopes to make contact with as many as possible of his old shipmates to reminisce and share stories of their slow but happy way from the Middle East to India.
This return journey, the first Michael has ever attempted, will no doubt be as much of a challenge as the original, but it is precisely the unknown aspects which make this trip all the more exciting for him.
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